What to expect in 2017

The coming year will see elections in the Netherlands, France and Germany and the beginning of the Brexit negotiations. But journalists are not entirely pessimistic about Europe's prospects in 2017.

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euinside (BG) /

EU to fight propaganda

The rise of the populists in Europe reached a peak in 2016; in 2017 the other parties must take up the struggle against it, Adelina Marini writes in the Blog Euinside:

“Populism is based on distorting the facts or on the deliberate dissemination of untruths. In 2017 the EU will declare war on fake news, myths, untruths and propaganda. This struggle has been going on for some time already, but it is mostly rather uncoordinated. Up till now it has taken the form of spontaneous campaigns and public reactions. Through Brexit and the election of Donald Trump the populists have been unmasked. That is a decisive step in the struggle against them, but it is also a challenge for the traditional parties, which are apparently unable to offer the voters alternatives. Their biggest mistake would be to go on giving the electorate more of what they have been dishing up to them for decades. New ideas are needed. ”

Verslo žinios (LT) /

Economic crisis unlikely

Why won’t 2017 see an economic crisis like the one in 2008? The economist Gitanas Nausėda from SEB-Bank provides an explanation in the business newspaper Verslo žinios:

“First of all, the mood in the banking system is completely different to ten years ago. Back then the banks' credit portfolios were full of holes. Their goal was to hide behind the barricades of bags of money and in this way survive the eruption of the financial volcano. But now it's not the banks that are waiting to see what happens, but their customers. Secondly, the central banks have flooded the market with so much easily accessible money - a situation we could only have dreamt of in 2008. The main problem of the banks is how to achieve a yield with which customers are satisfied, given the current interest margins. There is one similarity with 2008, however: the low interest rates have created the right environment for a real estate bubble.”

Hospodářské noviny (CZ) /

A year that could change everything

Hospodářské noviny takes a look at the year ahead:

“Will [Front National leader] Marine Le Pen become the next French president? Will the European Union begin to collapse? Will Donald Trump trigger a small war with his next Tweet? These are the kind of questions we ask every year, but this time it's different. First of all the [Dutch] populist Geert Wilders may become prime minister in March. Le Pen plans to hold a referendum on France's EU membership as soon as possible. In the meantime the new government in Italy could fail; new elections could see comedian Grillo [of the Movimento Cinque Stelle] emerge as the winner. The high point in Europe will come on October 22, when the Germans go to the ballot box. Angela Merkel is once again the favourite but her refugee policy may drive more than ten percent of the voters towards the [nationalist- conservative] AfD. All in all the year ahead could bring many changes.”

Denník N (SK) /

Terror, Brexit and populism

Sticking its neck out, Dennik N makes some concrete predictions for 2017:

“Merkel will be re-elected chancellor, but the [nationalist-conservative] AfD may become the second-strongest force. After protracted negotiations Germany will end up with a Grand Coalition [with the Social Democrats] again. ... The two chambers of the British parliament will trigger the Brexit Article 50, ignoring the warnings of economists. ... [Front National leader] Le Pen has never been so close to the presidency and yet the populist politician will lose against [the conservative candidate] Fillon. ... The war in Syria will not end. That will bring new but fewer refugees to Europe. The more IS comes under pressure on the battlefield, the more it will show the power of its terrorism in Europe. ... Trump won’t bring any big surprises. He will realise his election promises, but without going to extremes. ”

The Irish Independent (IE) /

Be careful with predictions

One should be cautious about making political predictions for the year 2017, journalist Andrew Rawnsley warns by contrast. With elections in France, Germany and the Netherlands, Trump's taking office and the beginning of the Brexit negotiations the new year is likely to be even more unpredictable than 2016, he writes in The Irish Independent.

“Whether your forecast of the future leans to the optimistic or the pessimistic probably says more about your personality than it does about what is going to happen. Let's be honest. No one should be terribly confident that they know anything after a 2016 that confounded the expectations of pundits, pollsters, financial markets and the voters themselves. The only truly robust prediction I make about 2017 is that sensible people are going to be a lot more cautious about making predictions.”

hvg (HU) /

The end of politics

We are heading for times dominated almost exclusively by prejudice, xenophobia and irrationality, the philosopher Gáspár Miklós Tamás predicts in the weekly hvg:

“Politics no longer exists - politics as rational, self-regulating, public governance nurtured by the polemics and debates of the people - but now there is only the market and systematic violence. And since, particularly in exploited, poor countries, that is not sufficient, they have to be supplemented by the madness that goes by the name of 'religion' and 'xenophobia', so that those incapable of acting have the feeling (erroneously and in vain) that they are actually doing something. … Today, prejudice, intolerance, irrationality and egoism are raging everywhere. And what does the growing right prescribe as medicine in this situation: yet more prejudice, intolerance and egoism, with literally explosive success.”

Jutarnji list (HR) /

Things can hardly get worse

This last year has been the worst the EU has ever experienced, Jutarnji list concludes:

“Terrorist attacks, the failure to manage the refugee crisis jointly, the British desire to leave the EU, the Dutch rejection of the EU association agreement with Ukraine. Everything went wrong. The whole idea of expansion and integration, which is as old as the EU itself, has been reversed. Things that until now had been regarded as sacrosanct accomplishments and that were the pride of the EU, like freedom of movement without border controls in the Schengen Area, are under threat. Many member states are rejecting the fair distribution of the refugees and two of them [Slovakia and Hungary] are even appealing against it. And to top it all off in the refugee issue we are entirely dependent on a Turkey led by its unpredictable sultan Erdoğan. … We can only hope that despite Brexit, Trump and national elections amidst populist hysteria, 2017 won't be even worse than this year was.”

Landesecho (CZ) /

2017 will be a great year!

Commentator Luboš Palata writing in the German-language Prague-based paper Landesecho looks forward to the coming year and jokes that 2017 will be the best year since the start of the millennium:

“Donald Trump won't become president after all because a recount of the ballot papers will show that 99 percent of his votes were generated by a computer virus in a Pyongyang suburb. The UK will ignore Brexit and apply to join the Eurozone as the British people cheer it on. Marine Le Pen won't even make it to the second round of the French presidential election. Angela Merkel will win the German parliamentary election by such a large margin that she'll be able to govern the country without the Bavarian CSU. A second coup in Turkey will be successful and Erdoğan will be banished to Turkmenistan for life. Vladimir Putin will realise that it's impossible to build a bridge to Crimea and give the peninsula back to Ukraine. And shortly before Christmas Czech President Milos Zeman will resign. As an expression of their gratitude his opponents will drink 250 litres of choice Slivovitz [a fruit brandy] in his honour, which will probably last them until New Year's Eve.”