Pro-Europeans challenged by the rise of extremist populism

Populist partiePopulism_Em96dpi-14s claim that they are the only ones who care about people’s preoccupations, while the elites are deemed to be solely motivated by their own interests. Populist parties thus consider themselves as anti-system and anti-establishment. This simplistic rhetoric has seduced more and more Europeans this last decade. A variety of electoral results illustrates the rise of extremist populist parties, particularly in Denmark, where the Danish People’s Party obtained 22 seats in the National Parliament elections in 2011, in France, where Front National leader Marine Le Pen obtained 17,9% of the votes in the presidential election of 2012, and in Hungary, where the extreme-right wing party Jobbik won 47 seats in the national parliament in 2010. Continue reading

Bulgaria, Hungary and Poland: from EUphoria to post-accession EUrealism?

IMG_1341Ten years ago, the political geography of Europe changed when ten countries mostly from Central and Eastern Europe joined the European Union. Then Bulgaria, Romania, and eventually Croatia followed, thereby creating the largest single market and the biggest area of freedom of movement in the world. However, after the initial EUphoria, the “new” members soon faced the reality of the stark discrepancy between them in their ability to keep up with the integration-stride of the “older” kids. The recent crisis in particular has not only left some newbies vulnerable in the economic department, but allowed populists and eurosceptics to dominate the domestic discourse on European affairs. Yavor Aleksiev, Economist at the Institute for Market Economic (Bulgaria), Csaba Tóth, Director of Strategy at the Republikon Institute (Hungary) and Błažej Lenkowski, President of Fundacja Industrial (Poland) discussed whether the biggest enlargement in EU history has meet the expectations of the new members and what the greatest challenges are for liberals with regards to the upcoming European Parliament elections. Continue reading