Popov: Continental Europe Wants to Replicate Brexit

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Translated by Ollie Richardson for Fort Russ

3rd July, 2016

By Eduard Popov

On 1st July, “The People’s Party – Our Slovakia” (LSNS) started collecting signatures for the holding of a referendum on secession of Slovakia from the EU and NATO. This was stated by the party leader Marian Kotleba speaking in front of the Parliament building, according to the Bratislava newspaper SME.

“Signatures will be collected solo (for each of the two subjects – ed.),” said Kotleba. “Ideally, there would be two referendums”. He explained this option by the fact that some citizens may wish to vote differently in each referendum. For the announcement of a referendum in Slovakia it is necessary to collect at least 350,000 signatures, despite the fact that the population of the country is 5,400,000 people. 

On the same day the message from their neighbouring Czech Republic came. Czech President Milos Zeman urged the country to hold a referendum on the membership of the Republic in the European Union and NATO. However, he noted that he would vote for continued membership in both organizations.

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“I do not agree with those who support an exit from the European Union. But I will do my best to arrange a referendum where they can express their opinion. The same applies to an exit from NATO,” said M. Zeman. Under the Constitution, Zeman has no right to convene a referendum. However, this does not prevent him from creating a public initiative. Zeman potentially risks repeating the fate of British Prime Minister David Cameron, a supporter of continued membership in the EU, who initiated a referendum with a reverse result.

Even if the majority of Czechs would vote for the preservation of EU membership, (probable if the referendum takes place) the fact is that a popular vote will seriously strengthen the position of eurosceptics from the Communists (Communist party of Bohemia and Moravia) to the nationalists (“ANO” party (“Yes”). 

Both of these forces are represented in the Czech Parliament and have significant public support. But besides them there are anti-mainstream forces possessing potential political power  – right and extreme-right. The movement “No to Brussels!”, grown from the party “National Democrats”, has a stake on the country’s withdrawal from the EU and NATO. The party “National Democrats” was one of the forces discouraging the march of the occupational American Army (the so-called “Dragoon March”) in the countries of Eastern and Central Europe in March 2015. Probably, the organization of an anti-war rally served as the reason for the criminal prosecution of the leaders of the party Adam Bartos and Ladislav Zemanek. 

Brexit inspired eurosceptics across the EU. Immediately after the announcement of the results of the British referendum, there were calls in several countries for a vote on EU membership. In Austria, on June 24th, the civil initiative “the homeland and the environment” began collecting signatures on the Internet for the country’s withdrawal from the European Union. By July 1st, it is necessary to collect 100,000 signatures. It is unknown whether they managed to collect the necessary number of signatures. I believe it’s a PR campaign, not a serious political initiative. But yesterday’s decision of the constitutional court of Austria should inspire the Austrian supporters of a withdrawal from the EU. On July 1st,  the results of the second round of the presidential election were cancelled, which was won by the former leader of the “Greens” Alexander Van der Bellen. The court decided to hold a second round again. The reason for this verdict were numerous violations admitted by election commissions during the counting of votes cast by mail. This means that for the leader of the Austrian Freedom Party Norbert Hofer, losing with the minimum result of the second round of elections, there is a serious chance of becoming President. If this occurs, for the first time a eurosceptic will become the head of an EU member state. This will give extra points in the political struggle for the Eurosceptic parties in other European countries, who will refer to the experience of Austria.

The declaration of collecting signatures for a referendum in support in Slovakia and the possible holding of a referendum in the Czech Republic is inspired by a referendum in the UK. This decision, in turn, can serve as the impetus for the holding of referendums in other EU countries, especially in former Warsaw Pact countries. Revising the results of the second round of Presidential elections in Austria and a possible victory for Norbert Hofer, a eurosceptic and supporter of rapprochement with Russia, will increase the chance of a victory in parliamentary and presidential elections in the countries of congenial parties and politicians.

Supporters of a withdrawal from the EU and NATO will be in for a very difficult fight with an uncertain outcome. Washington has developed and perfected mechanisms of control over “rebellious” Europe, and uses all its resources to save the European continent as a zone of its undivided influence. Political, financial, and information resources all belong to pro-American forces. In an extreme case, the United States and their clientele in Europe can opt to use military force. On the side of the European patriotic forces, otherwise known as eurosceptics, the truth and the growing support from the European population, irritated the suicidal European policy in Brussels.

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