In an astute article, the WSJ reports that Germany’s election result confirms the overriding trend of European politics in the past year – namely, the crumbling of the Continent’s established parties in the face of voter anxiety over economics and identity.
I particularly liked the following observation:
The future direction of the EU and its major nations is now up for grabs in a fluid contest between internationalists and nationalists, incumbents and insurgents.
It’s interesting in Trump’s government, the power fight is simply between the nationalists and the globalists.
But in the last UK election, the two majority parties gained over minorities who had done well in the previous election.
In practical terms, the EU will now be dominated by Merkel and Macron but both will suffer from widespread pushback of their domestic policies. Many would argue that there’s less appetite for further EU political integration.
It will take Angela Merkel probably until Christmas to for a new government, so the UK’s Brexit team should not look to concessions from post-election Germany. Macron meanwhile will increasingly struggle with left-wing challenge to his Labour reforms, so he too is unlikely to upset French audiences with handouts to the UK.
But there are some dots to be linked. There are increasing concerns about security in Europe, most significantly from Russian aggression in the East and Islamization within. Theresa May shrewdly played a strategic alliance over security and defense as pivotal for the post Brexit settlement with the EU.
Whilst the UK & the EU are way behind Trump’s latest intervention to ban people from eight high risk countries as a nationl security threat, European security will be increasing important for the twenty-seven members (excluding the UK).
This leads me to an open question:
Now that the French and German elections are decided, will strategic issues about defense encourage the EU to cut the UK a special deal on Brexit?