A powerful coalition of forces – ranging from the driest of conservatives to Greens and the radical left and taking in big business, trade unions, churches and universities – has come together to underline the negative economic, social and political consequences of Brexit.
The UK leaving the EU, it is argued, will not only do lasting damage to the country’s economic prospects and political influence, but could have wider repercussions and might even cause the Union to start unravelling.
This is not simply a matter of absorbing a mighty economic shock, the complexities of negotiating the terms of Brexit, or the umpredictable effects of a sharply changed balance of forces within a downsized Union – the greater weight of Eurozone vis-a-via the non-Eurozone, for example – but the new political dynamics that might take hold.
Some have argued that, emboldened by the example of Brexit, eurosceptics across the EU, will start to push for the exit option, triggering a kind of ‘domino effect’. Writing for France Inter. Bernard Guetta gloomily takes for granted that post-Brexit
… so many politicians and political parties would follow headlong down this route to get a slice of the action. The pressure for similar referendums would arise all over Europe. The defenders of the European ideal would find themselves on the defensive. In such a crisis it would be very difficult to rebuild the EU.
Available evidence does suggest potential for such a process. Polling by Ipsos Mori shows high public demand for referendums on EU membership in with significant minorities France (41%), Sweden (39%) and Italy (48%). favouring withdrawal. Other polling even suggested that post-Brexit a majority of Swedes would support exiting the EU.
French, Dutch and Danish electorates do have experience of rejecting EU treaties in referendums – with voters in the Netherlands getting further practice in last month’s referendum on EU-Ukraine trade deal, which some see a dry run for a Nexit vote.
And demands for exit from the EU – or referendums about it – have been raised by expanding parties of the populist right pushing their way towards power: Geert Wilders’s Freedom Party in Holland advocates Nexit, while French Front National plans to organise a referendum on Frexit within six months of coming to power.
FN leader Marine Le Pen, who relishes the idea of becoming Madame Frexit, also recommends that every EU member should have one (although her offer to visit the UK and help out the Brexit campaign has been abruptly turned down). Read More…
Don’t worry though, readers, I haven’t taken up crack cocaine or blown the house on internet poker. Just belatedly discovered hit Danish crimi The Killing (Forbrydelsen), now being re-run on BBC4, and splashed out on the boxed DVD set to find out whodunnit.
We Brits, it seems, just can’t get enough of Inspector Norse (see BBC4’s excellent documentary Nordic Noir ) who inthis case is austere, self-sufficient, jumper-wearing obsessive DI Sarah Lund.
There’s a very strong political sub-plot in the series as Lund’s investigation of the brtual murder of 19 year old women Nanna Birk Larsen leads ever closer to Copenhagen City Hall and the closely contested mayoral election between Liberal candidate Troels Hartmann and incumbent (Social Democrat?) mayor Bremer. Hartmann is most closely implicated as one of his campaign cars is used to dump the body of the victim,.
I won’t give the plot away, but what’s interesting from a political science point of view is how well the Danish political system comes out. Although clearly a political pro accustomed to wheeling and dealing, Hartmann is (with some key exceptions) basically a rather principled reformer. He refuses some of the dirtier strategems proposed by his advisors and the pressures to comprise his core beliefs for the sake tactical conveneince or because of pressure from his national party.
The police are subject – and for a while amenable – to political pressure to protect powerful figures from investigation, but in the end they are prove independent enough to go for them.
The municipal public administration perhaps comes out worse, although personal failings rather than institutional failure seem to lie at the heart of the what the ‘tecs uncover.
Power corrupts then, but not that much maybe.
A big contrast then with some of the older more established works of Scandi-crime writing, especially that of left-wing Swedish writers like Stieg Larsson, Henning Mankell and more distantly Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö . Here, behind the facade of a well-governed welfare society something is rotten in the state of Sweden with big businesspeople (sometimes pervvy or psychopathic), right-wing extremists, sinister spooks, blowback from the exploitation of the Third world and (post-1989/91) collusion with East European mafias being some of the favourite themes.
Personal crimes and misdemenours peel back to reveal inner social and political malaise.
The Killing has it the other way round.
Despite shockingly delivered plot twists, very dark subject matter and lashings of human tragegy and personal destruction wreaked on all characters, its underlying image of Denmark’s social and political institutions is, realistically, a rather positive one. Although individuals crumble and collapse – and issues such integration of migrants, while constantly mentioned, by Hartmann et al are basically rather glossed over – the country’s institutions work tolerably fairly and tolerably well.
I don’t know if Francis Fukuyama reads crime fiction – I would guess not – but I think he would like it. I do.
|Rally backing Indonsia’s anticorruption committee – Photo Ivan Atmanagara||.|