After the Berlin State Election on Sunday, it seems unlikely that any of the leaders of the countries in the European Union will get a good night’s sleep for the next couple of days.
Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) suffered a huge blow, receiving just 17.6 per cent of the votes, their lowest in its history. Meanwhile, Alternative for Germany (AfD) secured their first seats in the German capital’s legislature, becoming the first right wing party to do so since the reunification.
Opposing immigration, sceptical of the Eurozone and calling for the country to withdraw from the European Union (EU), the rise of similar far right political parties in Europe, such as the National Front, led by Marie Le Pen in France, or the Golden Dawn of Greece, could spell trouble for Europe.
In fact, many people are already sick of Brussels forcing their hand on decisions they don’t agree with. For example, Greece, a victim of its own economic crisis, has to impose financial restrictions to satisfy the EU into passing them emergency loans, meaning an increase of taxes and slashed welfare benefits. The reaction has been to elect Alexis Tsipras, whose party, Syriza, promises to abolish these restrictions.
Citizens in financially secure countries, such as France and Germany, are unhappy with how the EU handles other affairs, like the refugee crisis. Instead of all countries in the Union accepting similar numbers of people, well-off countries in Western Europe and Scandinavia have to take in most of the immigrants. These countries complain that this is unfair and will negatively affect their economy.
Brexit could be the final straw in ending the European Union. Until Britain left the EU, it seemed to be all just talk. But the Leave camp made that a reality. That could trigger more countries to act on their discontent.
This gives right-winged parties in Europe a huge boost. With rising support from citizens who are increasingly frustrated with Brussels, nationalists can pressure their individual governments to follow in Britain’s footsteps by setting up a referendum to decide if it should leave the EU.
Worst case scenario? If prominent members like Germany or France leave the EU, it will be a big blow to the EU, especially in financial terms. Nations heavily in debt, such as Greece, Spain and Portugal, will face a new wave of economic struggles, causing the Euro to plummet, and leaving the global economy in turmoil.