Don't Lose Faith in Europe! The May 6 Syndrome Is Dangerous!
The elections in France, Greece, and Serbia (and some other places in Europe) on May 6, 2012, seem as an indication of the waning of the United Europe idea, and even a more convincing one than the steadily declining turnout at the European Parliament elections held once every 5 years.
Socialist Francois Hollande beat Sarkozy for the French Presidency – even if by a minor margin – running on a promise to renegotiate the EU Fiscal Pact with German Chancellor Merkel (who herself suffered a setback in the elections in the Schleswig-Holstein province), thus casting a shadow over the unity of Franco-Germany – the central beam of the EU that has been unquestionable under both Chirac and Sarkozy.
Hollande keeps saying (in that he's echoed by the temporary Bulgarian President of the Party of European Socialists Sergey Stanishev) he wants to refocus Europe on growth, rather than austerity. Unfortunately, in the Socialists' case growth is probably a euphemism for spending, which is where they (though they are not the only ones) have excelled across Europe.
In Greece, after failing to guide the nation to better times, the two mainstream parties – rightist New Democracy and leftist PASOK – have hardly performed decently, while witnessing the rise of a number of far-left and far-right formations as if crawling up from the abyss of the past. Seeing that, one can't help but thinking that history does repeat itself – because 1929 was followed by 1933, with the far-left and the far-right clashing in the streets of European cities (hopefully, today's clashes will be verbal only). The Greek election results have resurrected fears about Greece dropping out of the euro zone and the EU. A nightmare scenario!
In Serbia, even though most major parties are pro-EU, the more solidly pro-EU party of incumbent President Boris Tadic – who now stands equal chances in the runoff for the Presidency with his opponent Nikolic – has lost the parliamentary elections, while polls showed that barely half of the Serbs are convincing that the EU is the way to go for their country. Of course, the Serbian case is vastly complicated by the loss of Kosovo, and the Kosovo Serbs issue but the mood there is still indicative.
Unfortunately, Europeans seem to be failing to realize as of yet that all the challenges they are faced with are not caused by the "economic crisis". The global economic crisis has been over for a while. This is no longer a crisis, it has just ushered the world into a new era – the post-2008 world is different from the post-1989 and even the post-9/11 world. It requires greater competiveness, greater skills, probably even longer hours on the job, and changes to the European welfare states and the "welfare mentality", combined with deeper regional (that is, EU-wide) integration. All of that is the opposite of the May 6 syndrome!
The EU is the best thing that's happened to Europe since the advent of agriculture, or even since the invention of fire. Few may realize it now but if the EU is allowed to crumble – instead of being reinforced, there will be a lot more at stake than welfare and the economy. Basic security and peace might collapse! So, please, don't lose faith that the EU is the way to go. That thought alone would be dangerous!