Recent French primaries gave the victory to Mr. Francois Fillon, a center-right politician running on a platform of accommodating Russia. This election, as well as other European elections, have increasingly given more power to populist, pro-Russian leaders. Fillon advocates an advance of friendly relations with Russia, increasing migration between the two countries, and stepping away from NATO.
There are several motives for this Eastern shift, some of them more likely or more troubling than others.
These primaries could reflect a growing trend of isolationism in the world, an appealing philosophy to Europeans in the middle of a refugee crisis. The logic? Stop wasting energy and resources trying to contain Russia when we can just let Putin do what he wants and spend the money at home.
This could also be a populist reaction against elitism and intellectualism in foreign politics. The status quo political leaders traditionally care about balance-of-power politics; therefore, the antithesis party must disdain these notions.
This could be a fearful reaction to growing U.S. isolationism. The world’s largest power, and opponent of Russia, has been signaling a desire to stay out of world politics. With a more powerful neighbor on their eastern border, European nations may be seeking to align themselves with a more present power.
The last, and most troubling, explanation for this shift was offered by the author of this article: Europeans like Putin’s style of government. Hard-lining against refugees, homosexuality, and Islamic terrorism are key components of Putin’s reign. Putin seeks to establish a state of traditional conservative values. These things are appealing to voters. Unfortunately, these policy stances also come with human rights abuses, limits on traditional first amendment rights like the freedom of speech, the press, and religion, and the gradual dissolve of democracy itself. It is unclear whether European voters are choosing to turn the other cheek to Putin’s less than savory policies, or whether they believe that these principles are worth sacrificing to maintain greater security.
What do you think? Why the shift in Europe towards Russia?
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