God Rest Ye, Merry Gentlemen - Jars of Clay - listen now

Thursday, October 13, 2005

EUROPE: IS IT CHANGING?

It would seem so. As Debra Saunders points out in her column "One Less Better in Europe" a lot has changed since the French-German alliance staunchly opposed the United States in the run-up to the Iraqi liberation.

In France: Chirac has lost an Olympic Bid and an EU Constitution. A 57% "non" vote was an unexpected slap in the face for Jacques. He also faces a serious challenge to his rule within his own party from Nicolas Sarkozy, they dynamic Interior Minister; 69% of Chirac's own party perfers Sarkozy as their candidate for president (Sarkozy is France's Angela Merkel). With Chirac's health failing, it seems his political power may be waning as well.

In Germany: Slim though it was, Angela Merkel has forced Gerhard Schroeder from office. A tearful Schroeder took some final potshots at the US and George Bush before walking off into the political history books.

"I will not be a part of the next government -- definitely not be part of it," a tearful looking Schroeder told a rapt audience of union members in his home city of Hanover.

He quickly composed himself, hitting his stride in a passionate defense of a strong German state and lashing out at "Anglo-Saxon" economic policies favoured in Britain and the United States, which he said had "no chance" in Europe.
As Tammy Bruce noted: "...this from a man who is out in part because his country is collapsing economically." Merkel doesn't have the strong majority she hoped for in the weeks before the election. But the Chancellor's office is a powerful one, and I hope she uses it well.

In Spain: The socialist Prime Minister Jose Luis Zapatero elected in the wake of the 3/11 terrorist attack in Madrid now has only a 31% approval rating.

In the United Kingdom: Tony Blair was relected in spite of being the staunchest American ally in the War on Terror and supporting the liberation of Iraq. Now, despite pressure from Chirac and Schroeder, he is distancing himself from the Kyoto treaty.

Yes, these are sad days for the European leftists, non? Yet heartening for those of us who hold out hope that Europe can find a new path to security and prosperity. Is it coincidence that Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy are both from former communist nations? Merkel grew up in East Germany and Sarkozy in Hungary. Not when you consider where the most open economic policies and most support for the United States is in Europe these days. It's the former Soviet satellites. The people who grew up under totalitarian socialism are the most ardent supporters of democracy and freedom in Europe today. Perhaps the complacent western European nations would do well to listen to their newly free, and prospering, neighbors.

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