As Britain moves closer to a referendum some time in the next couple of years about whether to remain in the European Union, news out of Portugal this week ought to be giving heartburn to Brussels Sprouts everywhere.
Portugal’s voters recently elected a left-leaning anti-EU majority to its parliament, but the country’s president is refusing to allow the new majority to form a government. Ambrose Evans-Pritchard reports in The Telegraph:
For the first time since the creation of Europe’s monetary union, a member state has taken the explicit step of forbidding eurosceptic parties from taking office on the grounds of national interest.
Anibal Cavaco Silva, Portugal’s constitutional president, has refused to appoint a Left-wing coalition government even though it secured an absolute majority in the Portuguese parliament and won a mandate to smash the austerity regime bequeathed by the EU-IMF Troika.
He deemed it too risky to let the Left Bloc or the Communists come close to power, insisting that conservatives should soldier on as a minority in order to satisfy Brussels and appease foreign financial markets.
So much for the voice of the people I guess. Obama is no doubt envious. (Or perhaps he advised Portugal to govern as he does.)
Meanwhile, Poland has elected a new government that is described as further to the right than the current right-leaning government, but this is not entirely clear. The new majority coalition sounds more socially conservative but more economically liberal. Poland has been resisting the “Brussification” of its order (as a former foreign minister of Poland once described it to me), and looks to continue under the new government. Politico reports:
The outgoing government of Ewa Kopacz wasn’t keen on accepting migrants and battled EU emissions policies while defending the use of coal. Her Poland was a stalwart NATO ally, suspicious of Russia, and in no rush to join the euro. The new crowd is more or less in the same place on every one of those issues — though PiS may be less polite in getting its point across. . .
PiS sits with the U.K.’s Conservatives in the European Parliament’s Reformists and Conservatives grouping and is London’s natural ally when it comes to the defense of national sovereignty.
Warsaw has long ruffled green feathers with its strident defense of coal, which supplies about 90 percent of the country’s electricity. The new government will be just as tough. This could well cause big problems next year, when the EU tries to figure out how individual countries will meet its overall target to have renewables supply 27 percent of the bloc’s energy by 2030.
The folks at MarketWatch think this may be more significant than Greece leaving the Eurozone:
That matters. A currency is not so different from a company. Its influence is either expanding or retreating. Losing Greece was always, in the end, fairly marginal to the eurozone. But losing Poland will matter far more. If the eurozone can’t persuade the rising economies of Eastern Europe to join the club, then it is hard to see that it has a long-term future.
Sounds good to me.