2017: The Year of Real Threats

Dr Case via flickr || Creative Commons

Year 2016 brought many political shocks to the world. Many people have not yet digested them. Even though the Brexit Referendum, Donald Trump’s victory or the death of Fidel Castro all happened last year, the events will bear their fruit (either sweet or bitter) in the year that follows. In addition, there are several more social experiments ahead. The internal issues of Slovakia and Europe will not just disappear in 2017.

2017 will be the year when we have to learn to differentiate between valid criticism of real mistakes of the current systems and real authoritarian threats that lay ahead. In 2017, the European Union and Slovakia will hold elections with the potential to define the future direction of their political scene as regards the fundamental rights and freedoms of their citizens.

French presidential elections may truly result in a victory of extreme right wing. Even though Marine Le Pen seems to have veered off the views of her father – a known revanchist Jean Marie Le Pen – it is the first time her National Front brings a realistic threat of a key country of the old Europe being led by a party drawing on racist ideas and left-wing separatist politics – a state that cinstitutes one of the pillars of Eurozone and European Union as such. It is therefore essential to understand why Le Pen exhibits such great support and to start working actively towards decreasing the frustration of European people towards the systems, which in their belief do not care about their needs.

Slovakia will soon face a similar test, as the County Elections planned for autumn approach. The political parties learned nothing from the victory of Marian Kotleba. There still remains a space for him to undermine the belief in democracy and fundamental freedoms with populism. Similarly to Le Pen, Donald Trump or Brexit, Kotleba has been playing on the same phenomenon (the frustrated, dissatisfied people), which he skillfully manipulates to such an extent that he easily gets public support. In case he wins in the County Elections again, it will not only be a slap in the face of other parties and a victory of fascism. It will be a clear sign of how easily the democratic potential and European integration can be wasted by not acknowledging the risk of diminishing the emotions and sentiments of the society. The real threat to Europe is right now posed by Europeans themselves.

Martin Reguli