The Franco-German political landscapes have seen some heavy turbulence in the their most recent elections. And despite the rise of fringe right-wing parties, it is the centrists who have received a mandate to set Europe on a steady course.
Is there a growing likelihood of a renewed Franco-German axis in the troubled environment of an economically stagnant Europe? With the continent still reeling from Brexit and the fear of a populist surge, there may be no better alternative.
France is gearing up for presidential elections in the midst of a wave of anti-EU populism. With the Socialists in crisis, the center-right must strike a difficult balance if it hopes to navigate between the ascendant far-right and the shattered left.
The social unrest France has been experiencing bears many resemblances to May ’68. Unlike then, however, the current populism is taking hold in a context that sees traditional political parties and blocs declining.
The European Union is facing several crises at once. In the face of what risks becoming a perfect storm, the EU is trying to regain lost momentum. In the processes more fissures keep coming to light.
The Catalonians, in their desire for more autonomy from Madrid, might have gotten ahead of themselves. With momentum behind them they appear to be pushing Spain toward a real break-up.
The Greek crisis has had a huge impact on the plans for a more integrated European Union. Structural inadequacies that had been conveniently ignored in more prosperous times now threaten to undermine the entire project.
As negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program head into the final stretch, it becomes increasingly clearer that what is really at stake is the balance of power in the Middle East and the degree of influence other countries will have there.
Russia’s annexation of Crimea comes with a price. As with previous revanchist actions, Moscow must weigh the cost of subsidies and damaged credibility against the benefits of gains in resources and national pride.
Ukraine has forced the West to rethink its relationship with Russia and vice versa. All parties are urgently trying to figure out what went wrong and how to prevent the situation from worsening. Working out a compromise will require leadership and courage.