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Monocle Reports: Is democracy in trouble?
The. This week on monocle reports is Europe headed for a democratic crisis. Full faking it sick urity and alliance is obligated very seriously on matters of security Poland's, president is with Europe, but its so-called judicial reforms have led to questions over the country's ruled Lowell. Meanwhile, in Germany, we ask all the other countries, you can take one to four million illegal migrants from Africa and try to solve your democratic problems with them go for it. We don't want that. We don't think that this is solving problems. This is causing problems beef. I ride alternative for Deutschland party is making gains split it suspiciously. Close ties to the Kremlin. And it's not the only party on the extreme end of politics funding its way into the mainstream is democracy in trouble. And can the European Union? Do anything about it from the Dory. House in London. I'm Ben Ryland. And this is Monica reports. On the first of January nineteen ninety nine Europe's new single currency. The euro made its official debut, though, the euro is starting off on a fairly firm around about one percent from the levels at the time of the the conversion in less than a decade. However, the euro was already facing an existential challenge as the scale of the global financial crisis in two thousand eight became painfully clear. CNBC's special report is your money safe. The fall of Lehman Brothers ABS news special report presidential address to the nation evening. This is an extraordinary period for America's economy over the past few weeks. Many Americans felt anxiety about their finances and their future in Europe Slovenia had just joined the euro filleted by milta- and Cyprus that same year leaders over European Union announced a stimulus plan for the European economy with two hundred billion euros in a bid to prevent recession. But the worst was yet to come. Greece is on the verge of default tonight hours from what many believe is a near certainty. It will miss a Tuesday deadline in two thousand ten the European Union revealed severe irregularities in Greece's budget and the country's deficit was revised from three point seven percent to twelve point seven percent more than four times the maximum allowed under. The e u rules Greece's future in the EU became an open question. But it was just one of many European countries grappling with massive debt, and at Europe's debt crisis is wisened island is joined Portugal and Greece is third euros. I nation to have its credit rating downgraded to junk status. Germany has one of the world's most developed economies. But even eat wasn't immune to the dangers of the crisis. The Federal Republic experienced its worst decline ever with the country's manufacturing sector hit especially hard Stephanie boats, and he's the London correspondent for developed. I think the particularly event or time was in the spring of two thousand ten when it was clear that Greece was literally defaulting and there was one emergency summit after another. I as I was correspondent in Brussels, then and I remember we hardly couldn't leave the council building anymore because they were overnight summits. It was a real feel of existential threat to the whole project of the euro-zone. And of course, Germany played a crucial role because Germany was going to be the country that would have to play the biggest amounts of money to bailout the Greek sate, what was the initial reaction amongst Germany's lawmakers, the political reaction. The put into good reaction was pretty skeptical. I mean, there was a mixture of political and public reaction that was kind of while. I would almost say we experienced clash of civilizations. And I mean from this time to be honest, also comes quite a wariness of the German role in the European Union because Germany was seen as the spa mice the country that was detaining, the Greeks of very harsh time of territory, but that was reflecting very much the national mood, which was kind of. Well, if you spent more than you actually have in your pocket, that's the price you have to pay and it also reflected certain it's it's in the German mentality to be very careful about spending money and a lot many in the German public thought. Well, we have been hard working we have been saving our money. Those Greeks Spaniards they the so-called club Mediterranean, if they spent more than actually have. Why should we pay for them? And in retrospect, it's clear now that this was quite a turning point for those on the far right of the political spectrum were you aware of that at the time. I was Sydney aware of that. Because in those days there were a lot of traditional cases brought to the German constitutional court. There were parties or groups of people who actually sued the German government for bailing out countries such as island or Greece because they sold it in breach of the European treaties. Because the European Tweety say, in fact, no country in the euro-zone, it's not allowed to bail out countries in the euro-zone, and it's still it's happened. And that's why we went to a lot of domestic political turmoil because every bailout had to be or every extension of the bailout program had to be adopted by the Bundestag that German parliament, the politics of far-right bodies, such as the L tentative George into the potty reference there, they quite different to the regime's. We might describe as authoritarian. But some members of that. Gary have spoken of the government of Hungary Poland as allies of the do you think that complicates matters for journalists in Germany win covering the erosion of democracy in other European countries that a somewhat Popular Party at home? She has many of those same undemocratic values. It is certainly not easy to cover the tentative before Deutscheland if you'll reporter in Berlin or in anywhere in Germany on two levels, the has been in my own colleagues have experienced quite some threatening situations when they were putting on marches and protests, especially in eastern, Germany, where met not necessarily always to put us off the tentative for land. But right wing protesters or the so-called piggy data, which is an anti Islam movement that have been physically threatened by people at this protest margin prevented from reporting on this marches at the same time. I'm it is quite a challenge to cover IFP, Paul. Takes and to be critical of politics experienced that myself, you you get a lot of disturbing sometimes disturbing reactions very often from anonymous sources, you get a lot of quite disturbing reaction on social media. But in the end, if you are journalist new out there that's your challenge, and you go to manage it, of course, in the background of this. There's Russia which has played a crucial role in hoping propel the rise of the af AFC. And of course, the has expressed some alignment with the regimes of hungry as well. Can you explain a little bit about how the forces of hungry Helvi politics of Russia has helped give the AFC more of a platform? Probably best to give a very, simple example. But it's a kind of example from real life. So Gemini saw the crisis in the summer of twenty fifteen and not much apple of month. Afterwards was the case the alleged case of a of a girl that that she had disappeared for. Days, and then she was found and she claimed that she had been assaulted and raped by refugees, she came from a Russian German family and the story when completely viral in especially in Russia and was covered heavily by Russian media. That was then picked up especially by right wing German parties or movements like the tentative for dodged as a actually as proving that the people who were coming in from Syria and beyond in reality. There were not refugees asylum seekers, they were criminals are the worst case even there were terrorists. That was actually the first time that Germany on a broader scale experience the effect of fake news because it came out that girl had made up that story. But the story was there, and in that case, it proved that very much it was that the story became so big and had such an effect was also with the help of Russian media and Russian trolls and Russian social media that is. Very much. Let managed by the Kremlin. Stephanie Bolton from developed. Many Germans have long suspected link between the AFC and Russia. This may some of those bishops were confirmed when German media citing Russian sources reported that three members of the AFC took a flight on a private jet to most go during a campaign in twenty seventeen with expenses covered by a mysterious d'arno, Russia's network online Balts and trolls designed to inflame divisions and support far right political candidates across Europe is by now a barely concealed secret. But it's public meddling in German politics, coupled with the af dis affinity for Europe's authoritarian regimes raises the stakes to a new level. But why is it Russia apparently so intent on destroying the European project, and if Europe's democracies so vulnerable to disruption isn't the same also true in Russia, Stephen deal covered the collapse of the Soviet Union for the BBC. He explains how. The Kremlin became such a paranoid institution. And why it's foundations may not be sold as they appear. Russian diplomatic relations. The first pictures of Montgomery's visit to Moscow to remind us that when ordinary Englishman beach, ordinary Russian, misunderstandings disappear, and it is merely a meeting of citizens of the world common interests and common. The term revolution. At a number of different meanings in Russia in the twentieth century when spelt with a capital letter. The revolution was taken to mean, the great October socialist revolution of nineteen seventeen. This was when the Bolsheviks seized power and one of the bloodiest civil wars ever seen established the Soviet Union. This was already the third revolution. Russia seeing that century the first nine hundred five came in the wake of a humiliating defeat for Russia in the Russell Japanese war and called for social change a few halfhearted attempts were made it reform such as creating the country's first parliament, the Duma, but little changed in the country. February nine hundred seventeen Russia's suffering badly because of the first World War a revolution. Overthrew is our provisional government was established. But the Bolshevik could Ataur in October. Put a swift end to that. The next seventy years little changed in Russia. The communist party is the Bolsheviks have become held a firm grip on power maintaining the status quo with the help of a brutal secret police force, which would not tolerate any descent in the late nineteen eighty s a revolution of a different kind took place. Good evening. This is the CBS evening news. Dan, rather reporting Constantine, John was the oldest man ever to have top power in the Soviet Union. And he held that power for the briefest time three days short of thirteen months. The death of Nicole was not as a prize, but the speed with which Mikhail Gorbachev took over the leadership. Realizing that the Soviet Union could not continue with the failing economy and an increasing arms race with the United States of America the Soviet leader. How good watch off set in motion a program of reform under the names gluttonous openness and Billy striker restructuring. The idea was that if the US is always to be open about its failings, which you'd never had been it could do something about changing and improving things secretary and MRs Gorbachev I've welcome a good number of foreign leaders to the White House in these last seven years. Today marks visit that is perhaps more momentous than many which have preceded because it represents a coming together. Not valley is but of adversaries, but Gorbachev's quiet revolution became louder as the pillar of fear on which the Soviet system stood crumbled away. People began to damone liberty such as free speech, political pluralism and independence for the various non Russian nationalities within the Soviet Union. This is heavy she likely news Paul Brokaw tonight the Soviet coup. Doll from NBC news headquarters in New York. Tom Brokaw, leaving Wednesday, August twenty first nineteen Ninety-one day for bowl Prenton history remembered in savored as the day when the power of the people in the Soviet Union proved to be greater than the power of the gray and old what'd man who thought they could return their country to the darkness of state of Russian in nineteen Ninety-one matters came to a head. Hardline tried to turn back the clock. But the old system was swept away on a tide of enthusiasm and chaos this Russian revolution. Nip the people with the freedom to think and say what they wanted but frequently with no money or jobs to achieve it. Oh, you believe the last Russian revolution of the twentieth. Century was the one which solve leading Putin come to power on the last day of the century. That was here. Wouldn't you know good in which? Sort of in the seeking someone who would guarantee him a safe retirement Boris Yeltsin handed power to the KGB officer, Putin, probably neither realizing nor caring in doing. So he was paving the way for Russia to turn back to the days of restricted freedoms. No one party police state. But he said you interested. But in addition you. Do what stuff? Unless he dies in office. Putin will have been running Russia at least for the first quarter of the twenty first century. It is a period, which is not only seen freedom in Russia manacled. But after an initial upturn has seen living standards plummet, nationalism and intolerance of any dissenting views increase, well, many in Russia praised Putin forgiving Russia back. It's pride on the world stage. More liberal minded citizens are bitterly disappointed by the lack of democracy. The absence of open debate and political pluralism and the way in which anyone disagreeing with the official line is labeled as a traitor or a fascist in twenty seventeen is Russian noted, but hardly celebrated the centenary of the Bolshevik revolution the country witness the biggest mass demonstrations, which it had seen since the heady days of pity striker, the younger generation in particular responded across the country to call for protests against corruption among the ruling clique. These were led by Alexander Vanni who would have presented a genuine opposition candidate to President Putin. Had he been allowed to stand in the presidential election of March twenty eighteen he was excluded on trumped-up criminal charges. But what the Navan inspire demonstrations showed is that there are dissenting views in Putin's Russia, and this creates a real dilemma for Putin and his circle, especially as living standards continue to decline. This decline is happening for number of reasons. The Russian economy remains far too dependent on natural resources, especially oil and gas despite much talk since the fall of the Soviet Union of diversification. And encouraging the growth of small and medium businesses far too little as being done. So when the world oil price falls Russia's suffers this situation has been made even worse by the imposition of western sanctions following the seizure of Crimea from Ukraine in twenty fourteen. Despite the bravado of the leadership. These sanctions have had a series of fact on the availability of goods for population who increasingly do not remember the days of shortages, which characterized the Soviet economy this and the suppression of liberty of fuelling an undercurrent of discontent society for now Putin and his security services much beefed up in recent years, I've been able to keep a lid on dissent, but what he perhaps fears. Most of all is a phenomenon known in Russia as bund. This is the spontaneous outbreak of protests turning to violence something which happened in nineteen thousand five a small spark even a local protest about housing conditions. Could lead to the swift spread of protests across the country and even within hunt security services. Putin may not be able to prevent it. The result could be very different from what it was in nineteen o five. Putin may believe that he has to -bility. But does he know just how firm it's foundations are? That was the Russia analyst, Stephen DL. This is Monica reports the weekly analysis of politics and the media. I'm Ben Ryland. The latest issue of monocle magazine includes an interview with Mel good Sutter Gerstl off president of the supreme court in Poland. She warns that her country is now the hull of democracy, tending towards authoritarianism since Poland's ruling law and Justice party came to power in twenty fifteen. It's tightened its grip on the country's judiciary forcing out judges and blurring the lines between political power games and the rule of law. Dr rock dune von Cevic is from the department of social science at the UCLA institute of education. Some say Poland is sliding into authored hairiness him others. Cool. It illiberal ISM. What do you make of recent developments? I think we should differentiate between those terms the first one third -tarian ISM. I don't think there is enough evidence to make that claim. Tearing his implies restrictions and personal freedoms. And elections not really taking place. This isn't happening in Poland. This has not been happening. Poland, thankfully, and recent local elections are also a testament to this to the to the vibrance of polish democracy at the same time liberalism. Absolutely. And that's not only happening in Poland. It's happening all over Europe. But I would say this happens on a discursive level. So it's part of the discourse that the government is producing it's part of their view of the world. It's very conservative, very nationalist. This is something that the us in order to rally support. This is what some sociologists called a discursive strategy. So populism is more on what is said rather than what is being done. They delineate very stark differences between us and then between the elites and the populace between Poland and Europe perhaps as well. But then when it comes to the real politique when comes to. They're doing in terms of everyday governance, and in terms of their international or foreign relations. It's probably less less extreme the supreme court, president has spoken to Monaco and said that she does feel as though role is under some kind of threat, but so far she's absolutely refusing to go anywhere. Do you think that those moves from the government, represent at least the government looking towards the idea of authoritarianism and seeing that I that concept of governance as something that is attractive the continuous reforms since twenty fifteen the Justice party have been implementing in Poland are definitely a breach of separation of powers. But again the standpoint from which they're coming from is that they have a clear electoral mandate to do this so part. So that agenda is not that different to what other democratically elected governments have been doing across Europe or in the United States whereby fifty plus one gives you a majority or a sense of. Entitlement to throw established order political order into the dust bin of history. So given the results that we saw at those recent elections, and the fact that there are actually a lot of polls out there who are expressing dissatisfaction with the government. It feels as though there is quite a gap between how polish voters feeling about all of this. And the way that the government is behaving given that. Do you think that the link between authoritarianism and what's happening in Poland? Or even just this idea of the far right being on the rise. Has it been overblown by the international press? I think that using that category with or Terry, Missouri. Rather skews our judgment of things I think it's worthwhile to speak of liberalism of majoritarian democracy of populism of an Ethno nationalist understanding of community. I don't think there have been any movements on the side of the government to imply that they have authoritarian yearnings per se just. Be an elliptically clear coming back to that split between what the what the society wants. And what the government has been doing since twenty fifteen. This is definitely been. It was exemplified the recent local elections twenty fourth Tober. So the law and Justice party have one they got one third of the vote, which is their largest party. But at the same time, they will be governing only and perhaps three out of the sixteen local governments, and they will only have majority in perhaps nine of the sixteen local parliaments when I look at polar society feels as though the polls really feel as though they've come a long way since the days of Soviet rule, and they would be modern day Russia as a regime that is a threat to the way of life in Poland with that in mind, if any polish government word who start replicating the kind of rule that the Kremlin inflicts upon its society. There will be a little polls who might have a bit of a problem with that. When you think, thankfully, even the car? The government has its suspicions about Russia. And rightfully so considering its rogue activities in Poland's immediate neighborhood. I think that the comparison between Poland and Russia is also not very analytically helpful Russia has never had a functioning democracy. It had moments when this was on the horizon, but it never really materialized. So authoritarianism light authoritarianism in Russia is definitely been entrenched since the nineties what is happening in. Poland is more similar to the developments the pull our as -ation within the political sphere cross Europe. But yes that split between liberal understanding of democracy, and the sovereign understanding of democracy is as Vladimir Putin likes to call. It is still very visible in polish society, and even people on the right wing side of politics would probably not want to aspire to follow putting in his footsteps, Dr rock dune advantage from the UC L institute of education. This is monocle reports. It's. Poland's judicial changes may have set off alarm bells internationally. But according to some locals, the political landscape isn't necessarily as polarized as it might same. The ruling party didn't perform as well as expected in recent local elections and one poll suggests that an openly gay pro European candidate could be third favourite full president the hind the incumbent Andre Duda. And the former prime minister don't took now president of the European Council. A progressive turn would Mark a major shift full Poland. But nation's history and be a tricky thing to shake off when right wing politics makes a seemingly stunned comeback. It's often less a case of the past returning, then an expression of a sentiment that never really went away, and it can be found in some fairly unexpected places. Monaco's Kiara mellow has this. Report. Cillian town of son veto Kappa is famous verse couscous, the Laker recipe dictates that it should be gone est with seafood and thick fish sauce when recommending somewhere to try it many will mention afraid one of the best restaurants in area. Its website features glossy shots of prawns and Choon stakes. But fails to show the other reason why is known around some of these. This restaurants. Deco features references to its own political leanings busts and photographs of Benito. Mussolini don't awards alongside fascist memorabilia, illusions image is also printed on its business cards alongside picture of some vetoes beautiful beach last year, the Italian Senate approved an update to a nine hundred fifty two law against sanctioning fascism. The new version renders the production distribution or sale of objects representing fascist figures or the fascist. Purchase symbols. Illegal. The change was particularly unwelcome at the veneer shops near tomb in the town of put it up where you can buy such treats as muscle any branded trenches yet restaurants, bars and cafes such as Fred os are easy found across the country. What Italy's should do with the architectural and artistic legacy of its fascist past is a discussion that is unresolved gleaming Russian buildings can be found in most Italian cities and make for architecture remarkable attractions. But accumulations by some petitions members of the populace five star movement included that the law infringes freedom of speech on misleading in Spain controversy around Franck was mausoleum is forcing a discussion on the line between memory and commemoration when it comes to talion Russia's them. The beginning is too often shunned. The monocle. I n Kennedy men. Kiara Ramallah reporting from Sicily for more news and analysis. Tune into monocle twenty four's live daily programming or catch up by your preferred podcast platform and don't get to pick up a copy of the latest issue of monocle magazine. Which includes that interview with Poland supreme court, president milk sought guest off this program was edited by Kenya. Scarlett, I'm Ben Ryland. That's monocle reports. Goodbye.
Monocle 24: Midori House