Beauty and the Beast

Whether Democratic or Republican, what will be the new United States president’s relationship with the Old Continent? 

Europe is at a crossroads, and for once, that is no exaggeration. At the time of writing, the European Union is still awaiting the outcome of the referendum that will decide whether the United Kingdom will continue to be a part of the EU. A Brexit has the potential to put the Old Continent on the skids: the EU would suddenly become much smaller economically, muster less geopolitical clout, and have a weakened political standing. Moreover, the British precedent could bolster the credibility of the many political forces in European countries that are openly hostile towards integration (at times calling for their own country to leave the EU or at least the eurozone) in the name of an ascendant ‘sovereignism’ which is nationalistic, protectionist and xenophobic. The electoral circumstances appear to favour anti-EU forces. The presidential elections in France in the spring of 2017 will probably see Marine Le Pen, the leader of the ultraright National Front party, go to an electoral run-off with a plurality of votes in the first round. In the following September, the antieuro and anti-immigration party Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) looks poised to clear the hurdle for election to the German Bundestag, further weakening pro-EU parties and potentially undermining Angela Merkel’s bid for a new term as chancellor. But while Brexit, electoral success for Le Pen and the rise of the AfD are all factors that endanger European cohesion, the greatest danger of all comes from across the Atlantic, where this November’s presidential elections could radically alter relations between the US and Europe.

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