AMAC Exclusive By Daniel Roman
Former Assistant Secretary of State Robert Charles has rightfully warned of the impending danger posed by the election of a hardcore Marxist in Peru, a danger the Biden Administration ignores at its peril. But the Biden Administration has made ignoring political developments around the world into a cornerstone of its foreign policy. That extends not just to the President’s desire to talk about “happy things” in preference to Afghanistan, but to ignoring political developments around the world regardless of what they portend for America. It often seems that for Joe Biden and his Democrat allies, history ended on January 6th, 2021. Events such as those in Cuba are simply an intrusion on their normality.
But politics and history have not stopped, and, in a spinoff of the Great Realignment, this series will provide a rundown of events around the world to show that populism, conservatism, and freedom have continued their march regardless of what the White House press office may wish. While the nations explored in this series are disparate in culture, history, and political customs, this variance is precisely what makes the widespread prevalence of these trends so notable and worth exploring.
Today’s piece looks at the persistent popularity of the Christian Democratic Union in Germany, despite predictions of the Green Party’s ascendency. I also examine the upset victory of Pro-Western reformists in Bulgaria after last year’s election-related unrest, the apparent triumph of free-market minded leaders in Moldova, and the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions in the United Kingdom despite the indignant protest from liberals.
For Greta Thunberg fans around the world, nowhere was more exciting this spring than Germany. Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats had produced a seemingly weak leader after infighting, and all eyes were on Annalina Baerbock, the 40-year-old newly elected leader of the Green party, who polls showed was the favorite to become Germany’s next Chancellor. The Greens were polling in the mid-to-high 20s, well ahead of the Social Democrats and even Merkel’s Christian Democrats, and Greenies around the world looked forward to the first Green leader of a major nation.
Sadly for AOC and the rest of the “Squad,” it looks like they will have to look beyond Germany for their “Green New Deal.” Baerbock has been beset by controversies over her background, and over her party’s insistence on rigid gender quotas in candidate selection, which led her to ban her party from even fielding candidates in an entire state rather than allow the local party to field male candidates who had been democratically chosen. She was also dragged down by the lack of appeal of her radical policies when Germany, like the United States, is beset by rising energy prices.
The CDU has slowly recovered the lead, with recent polls showing it at 28-30% support, while the Greens have fallen back to 17%-19%, potentially behind the Socialists. It seems the example set by Joe Biden’s energy policies has made Germans think twice about whether they want to embark on a Green New Deal of their own.
Bulgaria has long been one of Europe’s most corruption-ridden democracies. During the Cold War, Bulgaria was so close to the Soviet Union that some suggested it become a Soviet Republic. After the fall of Communism, the former Communists, grouped into the Socialist Party of Bulgaria and backed by the former secret police, alternated in office with various center-right formations often backed by the mafia, which itself had links to Russia. With the exception of a brief period from 2001-2004, when the former Tsar of Bulgaria Simeon II served as Prime Minister, these forces monopolized government in alliance with the Turkish minority Democratic party, which represented Turkish criminal elements and the Turkish government.
Mass protests over the last year resulted in the ousting of the government of Prime Minister Borisov of the nominally “center-right” GERB party in the spring, although the elections which followed failed to produce a majority for anyone. The Pro-Western President fired Borisov and appointed a caretaker government to conduct new elections free from fraud. Both GERB and the Socialists denounced this move, but on July 11th it resulted in a stunning victory for Pro-Western reformist parties opposed to both GERB and the Socialists. The winning party appears dedicated to cleaning up Bulgarian politics and reorienting Bulgaria toward the United States.
The former Soviet Republic of Moldova has suffered more than most areas of Europe from Communism, and that is a high threshold. Ripped from Romania by the Soviet Union in 1940, Moldova was devastated by Communist economic policies, then subject to mass population engineering, which brought in a large Russian minority. When Ukraine became independent in 1991, the Soviet Army “withdrew” into Moldova, and when the Moldovan government protested, the Soviet Army proclaimed an independent “republic” of Transnistria. Effectively a mafia state built around a Russian military base, Transnistria has been used to influence Moldovan politics by threatening military action whenever a government begins to contemplate NATO or EU ascension.
The main mechanism for this influence has been the Communist Party of Moldova, which governed during the 2000s, and whose successor party, the Socialists, formed a Pro-Russian regime under President Igor Dodon (2016-2020). Dodon attempted to unconstitutionally set up a pro-Russian dictatorship and was only narrowly defeated in 2020.
However, Dodon managed to nearly engineer a comeback by forming a coalition with corrupt center-right parties against the new pro-Western government. They managed to use the Moldovan courts to block the transfer of power for months, until new elections were finally forced for this July. They were a crushing defeat for Dodon and his Communist allies. Not only did the Communists lose, but they were all but wiped out, winning a mere 32 seats, compared to 63 for the Pro-Western parties. The latter had held only 26 in the outgoing Parliament. For the first time in 25 years, Moldova has both a President and a Parliament dedicated to free market reform and a pro-Western foreign policy.
Monday, July 19th was Freedom Day in the U.K. At midnight, clubs cleared tables from dance floors and moved seats away from bars. The United Kingdom was open for business. After a delay of one month from the original June 17th target date, all remaining Covid-19 restrictions were lifted. Night clubs were allowed to reopen at full capacity, while masks became optional, though businesses reserved the right to continue requiring them.
As can be expected, the prospect of “Freedom Day” produced anger, if not outright panic in certain corners, with 1,200 academics going so far as to suggest that the British government was a “threat to the entire world.” Virtually the entire British media establishment lined up against the planned reopening, demanding a delay until the vaccine program could advance further. Britain’s vaccine program, by the way has delivered first jabs to almost 90% of the population over 18+, and second jabs to almost 70%, far ahead of the United States and Canada, both of which have reopened.
Thankfully, Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his new Health Secretary, Savid Javid, resisted this outcry, staying the course.
Daniel Roman is the pen name of a frequent commentator and lecturer on foreign policy and political affairs, both nationally and internationally. He holds a Ph.D. in International Relations from the London School of Economics.
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