Category Archives: Extreme Left

22/10/17: Italian North: another chip off Europe’s Nirvana


Having just written about the Czech electoral pivot toward populism last night, today brings yet another  news headline from the politically-hit Europe.

In a non-binding referendums in two wealthiest Italian regions, Veneto and Lombardia, the voters have given local governments strong mandates to push for greater autonomy from Rome and the Federal Government. Both regions are dominated by the politics of Lega Nord, a conservative, autonomy-minded party with legacy of euro scepticism, strong anti-immigration sentiment and the past promotion of outright independence for the Northern Italy.

In both referendums, turnout was relatively strong by Italian standards (58% projected for Veneto and over 40% for Lombardia). And in both, exit polls suggest that some 95% of voters have opted for stronger regional autonomy.

The referendums were not about outright independence, but about wrestling more controls over fiscal and financial resources from Rome. Both regions are net contributors to the Italian State and are full of long run resentment over the alleged waste of these resources. Both regions want more money to stay local.

In reality, however, the vote is about a combination of factors, namely the EU policies toward Italy, the monetary conditions in the euro area, the long-term stagnation of the Italian economy and the centuries-old failure of Italian Federal State to reform the economy and the society of the Southern Italian regions. Italy today is saddled with stagnation, huge youth unemployment, lack of business dynamism, weak entrepreneurship, dysfunctional financial institutions, high taxes, failing and extremely heterogenous public services, collapsed demographics and centuries-old divisions. Some of these problems are european in nature. But majority are Italian.

Greater autonomy for wealthier regions, in my view, is a part of the solution to the long running problems, because it will create a set of new, stronger incentives for the Southern regions to reform. But in the end, it is hard to imagine the state like Italy sustaining its membership in the euro area without an outright federalization of the EU.

In the nutshell, within a span of few weeks, the dormant political volcano of the Europe has gone from stone cold to erupting. Spain, Austria, Czech, & Italy are in flames. Late-stage lava flows have been pouring across Poland, Hungary and the UK, Slovakia and parts of the Baltics for months and years. Tremors in Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, (especially Eastern Germany) and Finland, as well as occasional flares of populist/extremist activity in other parts of the Paradise are ongoing. And, it is only a matter of time before populism resurges in France.

All of this with a background of stronger economic growth and booming markets. So wait till the next crisis/recession/market correction hits...

21/10/17: Prague Pages Brussels… Following Vienna


Just after Austria, the Czech Republic too has swung decisively in the direction of embracing populism as Populist billionaire's Eurosceptic party wins big in Czech Republic.

As Radio Praha describes it: "The Czech Donald Trump or Silvio Berlusconi, maverick millionaire, political populist, mould breaker; these are all labels that have been tagged on to ANO leader Andrej Babiš".

Jakub Patocka for the Guardian: "Open racism has become a normal part of public discourse. Trust in democratic institutions and the European Union has been crumbling before our eyes. It is shocking how easily and quickly this has happened. Many Czechs are going to the polls with grim fears for the future. A broad coalition of democratic parties is not likely to have enough votes to control parliament. Apart from the far right, communists and a peculiar Czech version of the Pirate party are expected to do well."

The headlines from Prague are sounding more like something the 'Kremlin-backed' news outlets would produce. Except, they are printed by the mainstream international media this time around.

But things are much worse than Babis and ANO victory and 29.8 percent of the vote implies. Four out of top five parties by voting results are now parties with populist leanings, far removed from the traditional Czech elites. The mainstream opposition conservative party, the Civic Democrats, are now a distant second with only 11.2 percent of the vote. Czech Republic's "most radical anti-migration, anti-Islam and anti-EU party, Freedom and Direct Democracy", came in the third place with 10.8 percent of the vote, statistically indistinguishable from the Civic Democrats. Another populist party - the Pirate party - is on 10.6 percent with a Parliamentary representation for the first time in its history. And the Communists got 7.9 percent. In simple terms, more than 59 percent of the voters have gone either extreme Left or extreme Right of the Centre, and backed populist politics.


Credit: Petr David Josek/Associated Press

In a recent paper, we explain how the trends amongst younger voters around the world are shifting away from support for liberal democratic values. These shifts are now starting to translate into votes.
Corbet, Shaen and Gurdgiev, Constantin, Millennials’ Support for Liberal Democracy Is Failing: A Deep Uncertainty Perspective (August 7, 2017): https://ssrn.com/abstract=3033949

21/10/17: Prague Pages Brussels… Following Vienna


Just after Austria, the Czech Republic too has swung decisively in the direction of embracing populism as Populist billionaire's Eurosceptic party wins big in Czech Republic.

As Radio Praha describes it: "The Czech Donald Trump or Silvio Berlusconi, maverick millionaire, political populist, mould breaker; these are all labels that have been tagged on to ANO leader Andrej Babiš".

Jakub Patocka for the Guardian: "Open racism has become a normal part of public discourse. Trust in democratic institutions and the European Union has been crumbling before our eyes. It is shocking how easily and quickly this has happened. Many Czechs are going to the polls with grim fears for the future. A broad coalition of democratic parties is not likely to have enough votes to control parliament. Apart from the far right, communists and a peculiar Czech version of the Pirate party are expected to do well."

The headlines from Prague are sounding more like something the 'Kremlin-backed' news outlets would produce. Except, they are printed by the mainstream international media this time around.

But things are much worse than Babis and ANO victory and 29.8 percent of the vote implies. Four out of top five parties by voting results are now parties with populist leanings, far removed from the traditional Czech elites. The mainstream opposition conservative party, the Civic Democrats, are now a distant second with only 11.2 percent of the vote. Czech Republic's "most radical anti-migration, anti-Islam and anti-EU party, Freedom and Direct Democracy", came in the third place with 10.8 percent of the vote, statistically indistinguishable from the Civic Democrats. Another populist party - the Pirate party - is on 10.6 percent with a Parliamentary representation for the first time in its history. And the Communists got 7.9 percent. In simple terms, more than 59 percent of the voters have gone either extreme Left or extreme Right of the Centre, and backed populist politics.


Credit: Petr David Josek/Associated Press

In a recent paper, we explain how the trends amongst younger voters around the world are shifting away from support for liberal democratic values. These shifts are now starting to translate into votes.
Corbet, Shaen and Gurdgiev, Constantin, Millennials’ Support for Liberal Democracy Is Failing: A Deep Uncertainty Perspective (August 7, 2017): https://ssrn.com/abstract=3033949