Article by Pablo Ribera Payá, Student of European Governance Master at Utrecht University
Years of lies, of austerity and arrogance, of ignoring whatever role might the people have in democracy. Years of playing the victim of the EU, and using her to push the reforms no one wanted to sign. Years of dumping shit on her name for the sake of own political profit. And the striking result of a backfiring gamble. The Dutch SVP and the National Front of France are already celebrating, and asking for their own version.
Yes, it’s a lovely day to be a racist. But it’s also a good day to start thinking, when the waters calm, that the British voters who chose to leave where no exception or minority. Surely, they were influenced by fear, xenophobia and nationalism. But they also were the angry old working (and parts of the middle) class rejecting the current world, one they probably feel they have no place or voice in. The picture, once one accepts this, looks rather familiar: Trump voters in the US, supporters of Marie LePen in France, or voters of PiS in Poland and Fidesz in Hungary. Mainstream politics seems unable to connect with them anywhere. The ‘Europe of Sovereign Nations’, closer than ever. When has nationalism or xenophobia ended up badly?
We can just sit and cynically regret their stupidity of falling for a pile of slogans, racist bigotry and non-sense poorly disguised as arguments. Truth is, neither the European Union nor our democracies will go much further if we systematically ignore that a growing number of people feel that they are left out of our society and politics. Should not come as surprise when they fall for a gambler who offers salvation from the two evil enemies that are to blame for all world problems: the elites, whoever these might be, and the hordes of Schrödinger immigrants who came to steal their jobs and their unemployment benefits simultaneously.
Dwell too long on this we should not, as the Refugees are still there, Erdogan is probably waiting for the best moment to reap the benefits of turmoil, and islamophobia is the last nail in the coffin of liberal democracy, not to mention Putin’s amusement in his divide et impera. A reform away from stark austerity, to get rid of the sorts of Juncker, is more necessary than ever. To disband the illegal Eurogroup gang and put the Euro under control of an accountable body and the European Parliament. Politicians that stop using the EU as the scapegoat for unpopular policies are necessary to stop the centrifugal forces. If the EU plays the game of Banks, far right policies with migration, fear and fight against solidarity, will be no one to stand for her when the far right wins and disbands the EU and democracy.
Be this an opportunity to rethink where do we want to go. The European project cannot rely upon favourable numbers in the balance for every country, but only on solidarity and close cooperation. And we need the share of Trump Voters, the leavers, the angry supporters of Law and Justice, to be understood, convinced, and on board.