2023: divided world, divided societies?

After a 2023 dominated by war and conflict, European commentators consider what consequences this will have for the world and for individual countries. They discuss whether increasingly irreconcilable fronts are emerging between liberal, constitutional powers and authoritarian forces.

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Corriere della Sera (IT) /

Work together instead of against each other

The world is at a crossroads, emphasises physicist and pacifist Carlo Rovelli in Corriere della Sera:

“On the one hand, we have the multipolar, democratic, joint management of shared problems that takes into account the interests of the entire planet. On the other, there is the United States' determination to divide the planet into allies and enemies and impose the supremacy of a minority, hiding behind the empty rhetoric of democracies against rogue states. The question is whether we should think in terms of conflict or cooperation. Whether to try to win wars or to end and avoid them.”

De Volkskrant (NL) /

The West must repair its moral compass

The Global South displayed a new self-confidence in 2023, notes De Volkskrant:

“The West's objections that its new business partners are autocratic countries which, for example, attach less importance to respecting human rights, sound ever more shrill and implausible. The West is increasingly being accused of double standards and of turning a blind eye to human rights violations when it suits its own interests, such as when it comes to stopping refugees at Europe's borders. ... The West would do well to repair its moral compass and contribute to the emancipation of the Global South, which is quite rightly demanding an equal role on the world stage.”

Süddeutsche Zeitung (DE) /

Far-right parties as EU adversaries

In almost all European countries, the nationalists gained ground in 2023, the Süddeutsche Zeitung notes with concern:

“In the long term, this shift to the right could change the very nature of the European Union. The EU as a generally progressive, supranational political project would come to an end, ambitious climate and environmental policies would be blocked and 'Fortress Europe' would become even tougher. A 'Europe of fatherlands' would primarily seek to protect European civilisation from alleged external threats.”

Denik N (CZ) /

Two different peoples in one country

The 2023 elections in Slovakia and Poland have shown how deeply divided these countries' societies are, says Deník N:

“One part is more or less liberal politically, while the other is afraid of change and does not trust the democratic institutions. ... In Poland, it was the former part that won the elections this time, while in Slovakia it was the latter. It's beginning to look as if two different peoples are living in each of these countries – not yet openly hostile towards each other, but already very alienated. ... As we know, this also applies in every respect to the Czech Republic. It would be really bad if this disease were to break out in full force in Germany, too.”

Tygodnik Powszechny (PL) /

Tusk drew the right conclusions

In Poland, it was the opposition's opening up to other parties that helped it win, reflects Tygodnik Powszechny:

Tusk won because he understood what Kaczyński did not. When the PiS's poll ratings began to drop, the party leader went into overdrive to mobilise the hard core of the electorate and take the wind out of the competition's sails. He gained nothing: he began to strangle himself and offended every one of the potential coalition partners with his language. Tusk chose the opposite path. ... He also wanted to stifle the competition around him, but he changed his mind and reached out to his future coalition partners because he realised that they would not agree to his dictates.”