Coming up with coherent EU responses to today’s ‘revolutions’ is more difficult. The problem for the EU is not so much the lack of visibility, but the lack of a clear-cut position with which to be visible. Back in 2003-2005, EU’s sympathies were clear (though not always as explicitly articulated at
As protests sweep Cairo and other big cities in Egypt for a seventh day in a row, parallels with Eastern Europe circa the autumn of 1989 are aplenty. Gerontocrats facing a wave of popular discontent, plummeting living standards, unbound aspiration for a better life vs. the utter political bankruptcy of the system and, dare I say, a distant hegemon unwilling to cast its lot and prop up deluded rulers clinging to power until the bitter end. But what makes Eastern Europe particularly relevant is not so much the reminiscences of revolutionary fervour, not even the domino effect from one country to another but the pragmatism of what came next.
This is an old, old story told first by the “transitologists” writing on the momentous developments in Greece, Portugal and Spain in the 1970s. The key to success in a move to a democratic regime is the pact, tacit or open, between moderates
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If the recent polling data published in the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) is any indication, the European Union has much more to fear than euro-wariness and eurozone doomsday theories. While last year’s sovereign debt crisis has undoubtedly taken its toll on any fairytale accounts of the future of Euroland, a new threat has come to quell any inspirational telling of the European story at all. It is a threat coming directly from its main protagonists, its own citizens. Did Germany, a leading character in the early chapters of the EU saga, change the storyline? The German public seems to be answering this question in the affirmative. According to the survey quoted in FAZ, only 41 per cent of respondents agree with the statement: “Europe is our future”, more than 20 per cent less than in May 2005. The number of Germans feeling they have “little” or “no
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As Tunisia’s interim government settles down, with plans underway for elections in 6-12 months and civil society in the country starting to reconvene in new ways to pressure for reform, all eyes will on developments in this post-revolutionary state. What happens in Tunisia in the coming months is absolutely critical – not just for the Tunisian people, but as a testing ground for the ability for democracy to take root in an Arab state.
Attention is inevitably moving - as coverage of Egypt shows - to the wider region and the impact that the Jasmine Revolution will have. Opinion is divided on which way this will go. Other North African leaders are certainly rattled, so one possible scenario is a major crackdown on protests in Tunisia’s neighbourhood. Following the elections in Lebanon people have taken to the states in a number of cities there; Libya and Algeria are also seeing
There has been another blast in Moscow. The explosion at the baggage-belt of Russia’s largest airport was tragic—dark, shaky clips began circulating online minutes afterwards—but for Russia depressingly familiar. Last March bombers struck the Moscow metro, killing 40 people. One bomber detonated herself at the station bearing the mocking name of the secret service headquarters, ‘Lubyanka.’
Vladimir Putin came to power after a wave of terror in the Russian capital, gaining popularity through his aggressive response to the threat. “If we find them (terrorists) in the airport,” he said at the time “and excuse me… if we find them in their toilets, we’ll kill them in their outhouses.” Yet despite having rolled back democratic freedoms and given huge power to the secret services, why has the ‘Alpha dog’ president has been unable to stop terror’s return to Moscow?
One answer is
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