September 26, 2023

Europe’s ‘mini-Trumps’ survived his fall. Now they’re hoping for his comeback | Paul Taylor

From Orbán in Hungary to Fico in Slovakia, populists are looking to a Trump win to boost their power in the EUWhen Donald Trump lost the White House in 2020, Europe’s strongmen, populists and climate change deniers lost a powerful ally and a protector. Yet most of Europe’s mini-Trumps have survived his fall, his denial of defeat and the storming of Congress by his supporters, and are now hoping that a comeback for the Republican frontrunner in next year’s US presidential election will put fresh wind in their own sails.In his four years in office, Trump described the European Union as a “foe” and Nato as “obsolete”. He had earlier openly applauded the UK’s vote for Brexit and encouraged other countries to follow suit. He pulled the United States out of global agreements to fight climate change, tore up arms control treaties, slapped tariffs on his allies and picked fights with Germany over trade and defence spending. And he rolled out the red carpet for the populist leaders of Poland and Hungary just as they were defying EU censure over moves to snuff out judicial independence, civil rights and media pluralism.Paul Taylor is a senior fellow of the Friends of Europe thinktankDo you have an opinion on the issues raised in this article? If you would like to submit a response of up to 300 words by email to be considered for publication in our letters section, please click here. Continue reading...
September 21, 2023

The Guardian view on Europe’s politics: volatile and drifting rightwards

New research exposes the growing influence of the radical right on more mainstream forces. A counteroffensive is overdueThe taxation of property in the eastern German state of Thuringia would normally be a subject of strictly local concern. But last week a vote to cut stamp duty in the regional parliament in Erfurt made national headlines. Ignoring a cross-party taboo on collaborating with the far-right Alternative für Deutschland party, local Christian Democrats and liberals co-opted its support to force the measure through. Loud condemnation duly followed. But with the AfD running second in national polls, there are grounds for fearing that this will not be the last occasion on which the cordon sanitaire surrounding the party is breached.The Thuringia vote is just one sign of changing and volatile times in European politics, as the radical right expands its influence on the mainstream. New PopuList research by 100 political scientists in 31 countries, reported in our new digital Europe edition, finds that almost one-third of Europeans voted for anti-establishment parties in national elections held last year. Half of that number voted for the far right, which is increasing its vote share among these disaffected voters most rapidly. Illiberal, nationalist parties hold power in Italy, Hungary and Poland. They have a share of it in Finland and Sweden and anti-establishment forces have every chance of acquiring it in forthcoming elections in the Netherlands and Slovakia. Austria’s Freedom party, ostracised at the time of its emergence in the 1990s, is well ahead in the polls, with elections due next year. Continue reading...
September 18, 2023

Ukraine files WTO case against Poland, Hungary and Slovakia over grain

Ukraine has launched legal action against Poland, Hungary and Slovakia over their unilateral bans on grain exports, which it considers to be a "violation of their international obligations."
September 16, 2023

‘In the depths of the city labyrinth, here he was’: Tamás Andok’s best phone picture

The photographer had given up on his quest to capture a poetic moment of city life when he came across a solitary figureBudapest has three train stations that, between them, can take you to Vienna, Warsaw, Zurich, Berlin and Bucharest (to name but a few). Nyugati Pályaudvar is Hungary’s busiest station, with its peaked glass facade bookended by ornate domed buildings. Inside, cafes and commuters jostle for space, but nearby lies a closed-up line, almost derelict.Tamás Andok had been searching on foot with his camera for an entire day for “peculiar, intimate, poetic moments of city life”, and was on his way home. In fact, he’d put his camera away when he came across this man. It was an early October evening, and Andok remembers it being rather chilly. Continue reading...
September 16, 2023

Hungary is funding European publications. But have they had an impact?

Viktor Orbán’s government is linked to funding for several right-wing publications in English. But have they had any impact?
September 15, 2023

EU lifts bans on Ukrainian grain but Poland and Hungary keep embargo

The European Commission has lifted the temporary bans on Ukrainian grain after Kyiv agreed to tighten control over its agricultural exports.
September 5, 2023

At a stroke, Slovakia could soon become Russia’s newest ally | John Kampfner

Robert Fico, the former PM who showers praise on Moscow and models himself on Viktor Orbán, is leading the polls for the coming electionsSlovakia matters far more than Europe realises. On 30 September, the small European country holds a parliamentary election that will have ramifications far beyond its borders. If the opinion polls are correct, it would mark the return of Robert Fico: a man who lavishes praises on Moscow and models himself on Viktor Orbán, the “alt-right” leader in neighbouring Hungary. The European Union and Nato could soon have a new troublemaker within.When Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, Slovakia went all in to defend Ukrainian sovereignty. Per capita, it has been one of Kyiv’s staunchest backers, becoming the first Nato country to send fighter jets. If Fico is elected, it is in danger of doing a 180-degree turn and giving its support to Vladimir Putin. Continue reading...
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