In European politics, the big divide is not open v closed but innovator v conservative
IT IS tempting these days to divide the continent of Europe into two opposed camps. On the one side, the flat-white-sipping liberals of Berlin’s Prenzlauer Berg or Warsaw’s Praga, led by the impeccably globalised Emmanuel Macron of France. Arrayed against them, the nativists of Treviso in northern Italy or Fréjus in southern France, whose leaders are Hungary’s prime minister, Viktor Orban, and Italy’s deputy prime minister, Matteo Salvini. The deep divide between “open” and “closed” visions of society can be illustrated with dramatic images. Those from far-right riots and anti-fascist counter-protests this week and last in Chemnitz, in Germany’s former east, are one. Sweden’s election on September 9th, at which the hard-right Sweden Democrats will make gains, may prompt a similarly simplistic take.
Look more closely, however, and it all seems more tangled. Mr Orban may be undermining the rule of law in Hungary, but he sits in the European People’s Party (EPP), a group that includes Angela Merkel, Germany’s chancellor. Mr Macron may be a globalist, but he nationalised a French shipyard to prevent its takeover by an Italian firm last year, and this June declined to take in Aquarius, a refugee ship rejected by Italy. Ordinary Europeans are similarly complicated. Most residents of Chemnitz, for example, attended neither pro- nor anti-migration protests.
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