Text: Žikica Milošević
Even Bill Bryson said once that the most conservative people in the 1970s in Europe were somewhere in the Austrian Alps, and it was in the times when even the American Midwest was hippy-and-loose. There is a legend that there is a conservative core of Europe, called Mitteleuropa, stretching from Eastern France over Catholic Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Northern Italy, up to Western Ukraine, Romania, Croatia and Serbia in the South. Unsuprisingly, this is where all the conservative “rebellions” seem to happen, the last among them being Kurz & Strache.
EUROPE STRONGER IN THE WEST, WEAKER IN THE EAST
After Brexit, there were some grim predictions in the world. The first was that the Old EU (i. e. The Western EU) is sick and tired of Europe, of immigration, of the backlash from their colonies and the backlash from the Eastern European immigrants. Yeah, maybe you liked the fact that the streets and pubs of Birmingham are full of pretty girls from Poland and Lithuania working hard for their salaries, but, hey, the “Polish plummer” is stealing your job! The first logical step was the vulneralbe far West of the EU, where there were two countries where popilist were strong, the Netherlands and France. And precisely those two countries were against the “European Constitution” during their referenda in 2005. So, they were perceived as “the next targets” of the populist wave. But, in a twist and turn of events, it did not happen. France elected Emmanuel Macron, a liberal and a pro-European politician, and the Netherlands equally turned its back to Geert Wilders. It seemed that the Brexit could only strenghten the ties between the remaining EU-members.
But, it did not actually happen. The easternmost members of the European Union, so-called Visegrád Four, were adamant in their refusal of the Western European standards. The Polish clash over judicial powers, the Hungarian clash with the Soros-backed Central European University, and constant refusal of the four countries to accept refugees/migrants have shown the Eastern firmness to remain in their way. As one of the Eastern European (but EU!) girls told me “They are teaching us the culture and the values that supposedly belong to Europe and we know better what Europe is. They are simply arrogant.” Almost unnoticed went the move of Sebastian Kurz to stop the Balkan Migrant Route and face Angela Merkel’s “Open Door Policy”. Simultanously, Putin intevened in Syria, Iran joined, and the United States finally stepped in so so-called Islamic State is pretty much doomed. Territorially at least. The source of migrants is closed, the people don’t flee Syria, some of them are coming back.
AfD, KURZ AND BABIŠ
And after the presidential elections in Austria when Van der Bellen won the race, it seemed that the Greens are on the rise, Austria is “felix” and liberal again, and the FPÖ is losing ground. But, again, in a strange twist of events, the Greens fell apart, Kurz won the parliamentary elections and the goverment is going to be formed between him and Hans-Christian Strache. It is said that Kurz did the clever game changing the colours of his party from black to turquoise, but he stole the ideology from the rightist FPÖ, so in fact the party is blacker than ever before. Strache will jump into the waggon and promulgate all the ideas they seem to sherish together: immigration is cool, Austria is traditionally country where genetically Germans meet Czech, Hungarians, Serbs, Italians, Poles, Croats and Slovenians, so who said Austria is ethnically nationalistic? It is different that pretty monoethnic Germany. But, the idea is that you can accept the people who are similar to you. That is precisely the ground on which AfD, the right-wing party in Germany used to win the votes. And it was not in the East! More votes were won in former West Germany, which became the stronghold of another formerly East party, The Left (Die Linke). Angela Merkel is still Die Mutti, the Mother, but her policy of open doors and stronger European intergrations is now, with Kurz as the leader of Austria and with AfD breathing down her neck, is going to be tougher than before.
And the situation in Czechia is even more illustrative: Andrej Babiš is an ethnic Slovak tycoon, and the prominent place was taken by Tomio Okamura, a guy who is Japanese by name, and one-quarter Korean, at the same time a strong opponent of immigration. It might sound ridiculous to the Westerners but the Mitteleuropeans know that the racism here is mainly targetted towards the Romani people, Middle East and African immigrant, but not towards Japanese and Koreans, Chinese and alike (the Chinese being in fact most vulnerable).
Antrfile: EUROPE FROM STRASBOURG TO VLADIVOSTOK
Having in mind that Orban’s rule in Hungary is not shaking, that the far-right nationalists are marching in Kiev, that Simon Petliura has his monuments everywhere (even infamous Stepan Bandera has them!), in Croatia there is an endless discussion about the “Za Dom spremni” plaque, and Serbia is rehabilitating Draža Mihailović, well, the whole of Mitteleuropa is stongly positioning as a conservative place, from Germany and Switzerland to the borders of Russia. Or to Vladivostok. For the good of the EU, it will be good to sit and negotiate again how to preserve this precious and fragile achievement. Yes, the EU itself.