European Unrest

January 9, 2015 • Volume 25, Issue 2
Is economic stagnation fomenting extremism?
By Brian Beary


Supporters of the anti-Muslim PEGIDA movement demonstrate (Getty Images/Sean Gallup)
Supporters of the anti-Muslim PEGIDA movement demonstrate in Dusseldorf, Germany, on Dec. 8, 2014, against what they call the “Islamization” of Germany. Europe's continuing economic woes led to stunning wins for far-right and anti-immigrant parties in last May's European Parliament election. (Getty Images/Sean Gallup)

Europe has been unable to haul itself out of the doldrums wrought by the 2008–09 global financial crisis. In addition to economic stagnation and high joblessness rates, immigration from poorer to richer countries has led to social tensions, made worse by a new influx of refugees fleeing Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. Meanwhile, after decades of dormancy, anti-Semitism appears to be on the rise again. The 28-member European Union (EU) has responded to the economic malaise by bolstering its fiscal authority, but that has provoked a backlash from critics who believe national governments — and not the EU — should set policy. In such a climate, far-right, anti-immigrant, anti-EU and even neo-Nazi political parties have been gaining eyebrow-raising victories at the ballot box. At the same time, foreign-policy experts say Hungary, an EU member, is sliding toward authoritarianism, adding to fears that Europe is headed in a dangerous direction.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
European Unification
Apr. 05, 2019  European Union at a Crossroads
Dec. 16, 2016  European Union's Future
Jan. 09, 2015  European Unrest
Apr. 17, 2012  Future of the EU
Aug. 2007  The New Europe
Oct. 28, 2005  Future of the European Union
Nov. 27, 1998  European Monetary Union
Jun. 28, 1991  Europe 1992
Jan. 13, 1989  Europe 1992: Danger or Opportunity?
May 11, 1979  Electing Europe's Parliament
Jan. 17, 1973  European Security
Sep. 03, 1969  Benelux Cooperation
Jun. 15, 1966  European Realignment
Sep. 19, 1962  Political Integration of Europe
Mar. 27, 1957  European Economic Union
Jan. 02, 1952  European Unification
Jan. 08, 1951  Defense of Europe
May 21, 1947  Federation of Europe
Nov. 16, 1939  Federal Union and World Peace
Apr. 12, 1933  European Political Alignments
Economic Analyses, Forecasts, and Statistics
Economic Development
Global Issues
Low Income and Public Housing
Protest Movements