Ill feeling towards the European Union has grown substantially across virtually all of Europe in recent years, with anti-EU parties — following the lead of the UK Independence Party — popping up across the continent.
Since the UK’s vote to leave the bloc, many eurosceptics have used it as a jumping off point to argue for their own referendum on EU membership.
In the weeks since the Brexit vote, Austria’s far-right presidential candidate Norbert Hofer has called for “Auxit,” France’s Marine le Pen has reemphasised her calls for France to leave the EU, and the Italian banking crisis has thrown into stark light the possibility that the country may end up leaving the 28-nation bloc. Much of this has been spurred on by the UK’s vote, which gives credence to eurosceptics across the continent.
In the bank’s quarterly report on the state of the European economy, Karen Ward and Fabio Balboni at HSBC illustrate just how strong the ill feeling is, and how new EU referendums are the likely next step, noting (emphasis ours):
“Referendum contagion remains a risk. The UK’s decision was met with cheers from other Eurosceptic parties around the EU. The head of the Dutch Freedom Party immediately called for ‘Nexit’. Marine Le Pen, head of the National Front in France said, ‘If I win the presidential election, there will be a referendum…The question should be asked in every EU country.'”
HSBC also provides a chart of all the eurosceptic parties who saw the Brexit vote as a positive, with politicians from France, to Finland, to Hungary backing the decision of the British people. Check it out below:
HSBC notes that what happened in the UK could happen across the continent. Namely, fundamentally pro-European governments will grant membership referendums on the assumption that citizens will vote to remain in the EU, but eventually end up voting to leave thanks to the rise of a populist anti-EU party. Here is the bank again (emphasis ours):
“The danger is that mainstream parties respond by promising some kind of renegotiation or referendum in their election manifestos in a bid to take away the main campaign promise of the populist party. The hope might be that, on winning the election, the population can be educated about the benefits of the EU and ultimately take a pro-European view.
“This is essentially what happened in the UK as Prime Minister David Cameron fought against defections within his party to the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP), which was gaining support rapidly. This gamble didn’t pay off as he didn’t get the referendum outcome he hoped for. For a similar reason, the Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi called for a referendum in October on the constitutional reform approved earlier this year, putting his own future as prime minister at stake.”
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