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The new Left and Right division of Europe
by Christos Mouzeviris
2015-12-03 10:21:26
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Ever since the economic crisis broke out, new divisions have formed in Europe. This time they are not restricted necessarily to the previous geographical borders.

In the past we had a Western Europe, that has adopted capitalism.

While the Eastern part of our continent saw communist regimes being established, all united under a Russian led Soviet block.

After the collapse of communism in Europe, we witnessed an acceleration of the democratization of the majority of its Eastern states.

left01_400_01Consequently leading to more markets opening up in the East,plus the expansion of opportunities for wealthy Western companies.

While the Eastern states benefited hugely from the large investment influx that they needed, to rebuild their infrastructure.

This reality sadly did not last long enough. The economic crisis, exposed major faults in Europe's single currency, the euro.

The continent soon was divided once more between the "sluggish" conservative economies of the South and the more liberalized, adaptable and competitive ones of the North.

The financial turmoil combined with the refugee crisis, gave rise to many "radical" political parties across Europe,both from the Right and the Left.

Our continent became a battleground between old competing ideologies again;capitalism and socialism. This time though, it is more of a cross-nation class struggle, than competing ideologies of Europe's superpowers.

Almost in every EU member state, we are observing a turn towards the Left, the Right or both, with Liberal or Centrist parties trying to keep the balance.

And while the European elites are heavily preoccupied with making sure that Leftist parties do not gain more influence, they do little to stop the rise of the far-Right.

When Syriza rose to power in Greece, it faced a harsh and unanimous opposition from all other euro-zone governments, led by Germany. Other Leftist movements in Spain, Portugal and Ireland are similarly treated.

Recently the Portuguese President Cavaco Silva, who belongs to the Right-wing party PSD, made some unfortunate remarks that revealed how intense this struggle really is.

What he said is basically that he would not allow in government leftist parties, like Bloco (Portuguese Syriza or Podemos) and the Communists, that oppose Europe’s regime of austerity and NATO.

The President effectively conveyed that he cared more about what financial institutions and the European establishment think of the Portuguese elections than what Portuguese people want.

Such painfully honest but also arrogant statements, haven't been made by a European leader for a long time. They echo the cold war era and show the commitment and determination of our continent's leaders, to proceed with their plans regardless the backlash of the public opinion.

It is worth noticing that Europe's elites are tolerating nationalist governments like that of Hungary, plus recently Poland and many other European nations. In addition they are not as worried about the rise of the far-Right and in fact in some states like Finland, they form coalitions with them.

They must not forget, that the far-Right was also responsible for the worst crimes and disasters that our continent has ever had to endure. Their tolerance towards them is not just disrespectful, but dangerous for Europe's future unification aspirations.

Another question is what the establishment's plans are, if austerity and the diminution of our social security rights are here to stay for the long term.

Both groups-the establishment, conservative and Right-wing or the Left-wing, people oriented and socialist- have been locked in this tug-of-war for dominance of their interests or ideology.

It seems that they are doing so just to settle old accounts, but they are missing the point. Europe and the world are not the same anymore. New powers are emerging fast and we are heading towards a multi-polar world, where our continent is in danger of becoming irrelevant.

Our societies and economies must adapt and change, if we want to still remain a wealthy region of the world. But the solution lies somewhere in the middle, rather in the absolute dominance of either ideology or approach.

The establishment, threatened by the competition they face by emerging, yet poorer regions of the world, in which workers enjoy little benefits, want to limit those of Europeans.

On the other hand the socialist groups, want rightfully to protect these social rights. But in their effort they often make bad choices, driven by populism, lack of experience and their need to gain support from the ordinary citizens.

Syriza for example, after their victory and in a show of dominance, reversed many of the austerity policies that have been adopted by the previous government. Some were just, while others were nothing more but populist decisions to satisfy the demands of their voters.

What the voters of one party may expect though, is not always the best for a country's interests. And here is where the Left often fails.

As it does not have the resources to establish itself in a country's politics, it relies solely on the support of the average voter. And to maintain their support, the Left often sticks to anachronistic policies that are not necessarily viable, or they obstruct progress for the country as a whole.

Similarly, the establishment is highly influenced by the interests of those who finance the political parties, which represent it. As result, their policies are benefiting mainly the rich few of the society, those with power and money; and that is unacceptable in any society that wants to be called a true democracy.

Sadly Europe's politics are still locked in outdated ideologies and vested interests, obstructing the development or promotion of ideas that will offer long term solutions and a vision for the continent's future.

We need a balance and an absolute coordination of both political outlooks, not the pointless struggle between them.

Europe must secure its citizens' social rights and invest in their future development. It is outrageous that European elites chose to save the continent's banks pouring billions into them, while our youths are left with little opportunities.

The best investment that a capable leader could make is in its nation's future, which is the young people. Ensuring their adequate education and career prospects, will mean that the country will have a rich and capable pool of human resources in the long term.

Which in return, will increase competitiveness and innovation, encouraging economic recovery. Protecting the rights of all workers must not be seen as negative or costly. In a market based economy, having a prosperous and able to consume working force, is vital for the survival of a nation's internal market.

It is illogical what happened in Greece, which was the complete destruction of the country's market, by imposing policies that impoverished the middle class.

We need reforms and a clamp down of old and outdated practices, policies and benefits of certain groups in a society. To achieve those, it is obvious that some policies that many liberals and center-right wing leaders are promoting must be adopted.

The problem is that their proposals are targeting mainly the lower or middle classes, while the upper class of Europe will not have to compromise or be affected by them. In fact these proposals are there to protect and serve them.

What we need is not to decide whether Europe turns Left or Right for solutions; rather find ways to utilize the best of what both have to offer. We must find a compromise between the interests of the ordinary people and reform Europe's economies, in order to compete with the rest of the world.

It is not the right time to stick to ideologies, rather encourage dialogue that will promote ideas. But ultimately, it is the establishment that needs to listen to the citizens and take into consideration their concerns. If their vision for the future of Europe is to be successful, it will need the support of every social group not just the top 1%.

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