Europe’s political class on the hook

On the European political scene, in the pandemic times, dominated partisan and regional particularisms. About political parties in different countries approach COVID-19 writes prof. Kazimierz Kik, political scientist, Jan Kochanowski University in Kielce.

 

 

In a growing pandemic, Rui Rio, leader of the opposition Portuguese Social-Democratic Party, appealed in public to activists and supporters of his party. He called for support for the socialist government, stressing that he did not support the ruling socialist party with this gesture but supports – as a Portuguese – the government whose success in the fight against the pandemic will be the success for all the Portuguese. This is a rare example of cross-party pro-state thinking in Europe.

German consolidation

Another example of thinking in the spirit of consolidating the political scene is the politics of German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The consolidation of the majority political forces around the government is an expression of the policy of dialogue and compromise. This is reflected in the formation of a government consisting of two main political forces, CDU/CSU and SPD. By itself, this required the ability to compromise.

Such tactics created optimal conditions for Germany to fight the pandemic and to actually marginalize the actions of German populists from the Alternative for Germany. The tactics of Merkel, full of compromise and pragmatism, created favorable conditions for consolidation of the political majority in Germany around the government’s activities.

Pandemic as the axis of dispute

Unfortunately, these examples do not reflect the situation in the attitudes of the political class of the rest of Europe. Here, consolidation activities are in the minority, and polarization tendencies are dominating.

In Hungary, the state of emergency introduced by Victor Orban is mainly used to deal with the opposition. In Poland, on the contrary the opposition  focuses on the overthrow of the PIS government by subordinating its attitude to the government’s efforts to fight the pandemic to these goals.

In Spain, Great Britain and Belgium, instead of supporting government efforts to fight the pandemic, most of the political class focuses their efforts on supporting separatisms (Scottish, Catalan or Flemish), which further hinders the fight against pandemics and further polarizes the political scene.

Particularisms prevail

Against a slightly different background, the processes of political polarization can be seen in France. There, after only three months of fighting the pandemic, the increasingly criticized President Macron lost a majority in the French parliament. In France, this heralds a new attack on political struggles and divisions.

All in all, the European political scene of the pandemic period does not rather reflect a high level of political awareness. Party and regional particularisms seem to dominate it.