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A new future for Europe

Posted June. 28, 2019 07:31,   

Updated June. 28, 2019 07:31


In every presidential election in Korea, candidates rising from the frontier made a sensation such as Kim Jong-pil, Park Chan-jong, Lee In-je and Ahn Cheol-soo. It was not a rarity that a group of politicians moved to other party and the political circles pursued reform. Traditional political parties have changed their name to start anew. Every time it happened, politicians and media outlets commended with envy that the European political world maintained bipartisan balance in stable manner for the past 100 years.

Then, a sign of change was witness in European countries such as Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Spain. In their elections, we saw the fall of the bipartisan system. While French and Italian voters chose moderates voicing pragmatism and populism over the established, Britain, Germany and Spain, whose traditional political parties managed to hold power, have relegated to minors with less authority.

As European voters realized that the 100-year-old parties, which used to be their source of pride, did not work for them but for the few with vested interests, their realization turned into fury with the spur of the moment. It took less than five years to overturn the 100-year-old political party system. Of course, it is not that a certain new mainstream group of politicians take control of Europe. It is rather true that elections end up with new winners every time. Each European nation shows its own characteristics in politics even though all EU nations argue that they protect their vested interests from the inflow of refugees and immigrants.

The rise of the Green Party in the European Parliament Election is gaining attention. It is noticeable that young people on the fringe of politics led change. The Green Party was the most preferred among the electorates under 30 in France, Britain and Germany with around 30 percent of votes. Young voters express a great interest in the trend of climate change affecting the planet. Good examples abound including young protesters who fight for aggressive government policy on environmental preservation every weekend and teenager joining the school strike protest “Friday for Future” starting from last year.

There are still many critical voices that newly rising political parties lack alternatives and try to jump on the bandwagon of populism without a long-term view. However, their rise has made traditional parties listen more carefully to citizens, brining vitality to the political arena. Obviously, the new trends of change following the 100-year-old European bipartisan system will make an interesting difference that garners attention from people dreaming of new politics.

Jung-Min Dong ditto@donga.com