Polarization Instead of Dialogue? Responsibility of EU Leaders to Turn the Tide
The result of the Austrian presidential election is one of the rare cases showing pretty accurately how politically divided is the society. The difference between the winning Green and losing far-right candidates was less than 1%, which was 30 thousand votes. Although it was not the only moment when a moderate kind of resistance defeated the recently strengthened far-right, it was a more obvious victory for the moderates at the regional elections of France in December 2015 – despite the fact that, eventually, the candidates of the Republican Party of Sarkozy did not stand down so there were even competitors for moderate candidates.
Since the EU is facing the refugee crisis, electoral maps have significantly changed not only in Austria and France, but in Poland, Slovakia as well as in German regional elections. Although the Austrian political situation marks another milestone in the escalating the process, there is no sign of willingness to understand it to greater extent. The proposed idea of (financially) sanctioning countries not willing to accept refugees – as an addition to the concept of refugee quotas – does not answer the most important questions: what exactly are the responsibilities and obligations of the EU in this situation? There are two parallel debates going on in Europe: an ideological one about the role of Europe, and a technocratic one, about policy solutions proposed based on the first debate. And while many of the member states and their political parties try to win the first, the EU only seems to care about the second one.