The European Union As A Wedge Against Extremism

The+European+Union+As+A+Wedge+Against+Extremism

Eric Thorndyke, Writer

Since James Madison penned Federalist Paper No. 10 in 1787, it has been generally accepted that larger nations are better equipped to deal with extremism than small ones are. For example, a political faction that governs in a small town in Wyoming or in the City of Chicago will not hold the same views as the federal government, because elected representatives must appeal to a wider range of people.

And so, the United States has limited the worst effects of extremism by combining the separate thirteen colonies into a union. Unsurprisingly, other groups around the globe have wanted to do the same, the farthest along of which is the European Union.

Twenty-seven member states, with a combined 450 million people, elect 705 representatives, every five years, to send to Brussels. The government in Brussels does not have as much power over its members as does the government in Washington. For example, while the US federal government holds authority over New Jersey, the EU Parliament’s authority over France depends on the subject matter.

For a while, it seemed as though Madison’s ideas had failed. Multiple members of the EU had devolved into radicalism. Hungary and Poland curbed media freedom, passing laws promoting so-called national unity over the truth. Poland’s ruling party has spent years packing the judiciary to protect their own interests. Austria’s Chancellor allegedly used government funds to buy positive news coverage. Andrej Babis, prime minister of the Czech Republic, is under investigation for misusing EU funds.

For a while, Brussels was occupied with the COVID-19 pandemic. A fiscal stimulus was drawn up to deal with the effects on the Union’s members, that is, with a catch. In it’s aid package, the parliament reserved the right to withhold funding to countries violating basic principles such as the “rule of law.” Soon after the passage of the bill, it was announced that Hungary and Poland would not receive any money until conditions were met.

A week or so ago, the Pandora Papers caused an international frenzy by naming prominent business leaders and politicians conducting question business transactions. On the list was Czech prime minister Babis, whose party lost reelection this week as a result.¬†Austria’s Chancellor has stepped down after continual criticism from all edges of the country.

After it was alleged that Poland’s ruling party wants the country to leave the EU, citizens took to the streets to protest. The party was already facing relatively united opposition, and trying to leave a Union which has a popularity rating of 70% in the country will probably not help them in reelection.

In Hungary, every single opposition party has agreed to run together in an attempt to oust the country’s right-wing populist leader. As of now, the two groups are polling at 50 and 48 percent, respectively.

To summarize: The situation in the European Union is improving, and the future is bright, thanks to unrelenting efforts by many. However, things can always turn for the worse. The EU should look further integration as a way to prevent such extremism from taking hold.

Sources:

The Economist

The New York Times

Bloomberg