Another year in the books...
This has been a lackluster year for European Union economies. Meanwhile, domestic protest movements in countries like France, Poland, or Hungary have cast a gloomy shadow.
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The Republic of Ireland is an unlikely pick for EU economic and political maverick of A nation of fewer than 5 million inhabitants , it was one of the hardest hit by the global financial crisis. But the country has managed to grow its economy at rates well above the EU average and this year went through several landmark cultural transformations that brought it closer to its European neighbors.
For all the good intentions, these costs are now crushing Europe. But not all these intentions are so noble.
The driving force has become rent seeking. This means that Europe is aging and shrinking. The logic is compelling.
This European country is bucking 2018’s downward trend
And when adults exclude themselves from the joys and challenges of parenthood, they are less likely to learn the virtues of self-sacrifice and even more likely to become self-absorbed free riders. How to avoid this fate? Policies must change. Even in Scandinavia, long a bulwark of social democracy, the once-dominant center-left parties are in decline, and nationalist parties with nativist tendencies are growing.
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Under pressure, center-right parties have felt compelled to adjust by shifting toward populist policies and rhetoric. Similar shifts are evident among center-right parties in Scandinavia. Populist governments in Hungary and Poland have intensified their efforts to weaken core liberal institutions such as a free press, independent civil society, and constitutional courts.
Majorities in both countries increasingly are defining their national identity in exclusionary ethnic and religious terms, and anti-Semitism in on the rise. After Poland criminalized public discussion of its role in the Holocaust, the Polish prime minister characterized some Jews as collaborators in the destruction of European Jewry.
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He offers an attractive model of renewed, unapologetic patriotism and national confidence. He has shown that when liberal democracy is not deeply rooted, democratic governance failures can open the door to authoritarianism that enjoys widespread support, despite the erosion of individual liberties and the rule of law.
This means, in particular, adopting policies on immigration and refugees that the peoples of Europe can live with. These policies will fall short of the lofty ideals Angela Merkel invoked in , but they will increase the odds that liberal democracy can resist continued corrosion from within. Order from Chaos. A how-to guide for managing the end of the post-Cold War era. William A.