< SWITCH ME >
On the 4th of December 60 % of Italians voted against the constitutional reform package proposed by then PM Matteo Renzi, that resigned in line with his promise to step down if he did not win the referendum. On the same day green candidate Alexander Van der Bellen won the Austrian elections for President of the Republic, against extreme right wing Norbert Höfer. And it seems that in a post-Trump, post-Brexit Europe news can only be reported in binary mode, with reference to their effects on the European Union: in this case the Austrian victory stands as a positive result for Europe, while Italy’s results would be the next domino to fall in an extremely disheartening 2016, towards dissertation of our Union. Now, whilst I too fear for the great political uncertainty this referendum result presents for Italy, it is far too nuanced a situation to befit most of the polarised mediatic representations. So with the extreme parties on the rise around Europe and the world and increasingly divisive, hateful rhetoric permeating European mainstream discourse, what do the Italian referendum results mean for Italy, Europe and the world?
Photo Courtesy of Stronger in Manchester
Our former editor Chris Ruff gives an enriching insight into the experience of those volunteering for Britain Stronger In Europe.
At my first campaign stop, decent-length conversations were at a premium. Somewhat awkwardly positioned outside Manchester Victoria train station, with staff having kicked us out, we were at the mercy of the biting winds characteristic of that part of the world. Yes, even in May.
Cartoon by Alice Baruffato
This month Alice Baruffato continues her series of cartoons for E&M and focuses on the hot topic that is the Greek crisis. With the sweeping "no" in the Greek referendum regarding the EU austerity measures leading to the resignation of minister of finance Yanis Varoufakis and eventually also of prime minister Alexis Tsipras, Greece's instability was a concern for the whole of Europe. Greece's future seems wholly unpredictable; the first female prime minister for Greece, Vassiliki Thanou, will head the caretaker government until the elections, but will she help Greece cross the tight-rope and reach the financial and political stability it so longs for?
Another week has flown away but not without two of E&M's editors sharing some articles that got them thinking about our continent. This time around, Edgar and Veronica have picked up some online pieces about the value of history and the aftershocks of an Italian earthquake, passing through the Scottish referendum, a law in favour of the rights of transsexuals and Europe's immigration debate.
Edgar, Baby editor
HISTORY AND HUMILITY
In one of the first tutorial sessions of my undergraduate history degree, I clearly remember a classmate nonchalantly reeling off George Santayana's famous quotation about the value of history: "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." The tutor was unimpressed. "You're lucky you didn't say that in your interview," he said. His point, reprised by many of my teachers throughout the next three years, was that history is not a crystal ball. If we gaze into the past we do not see the future; only the past.
At the time, these historians' strident insistence on the practical uselessness of their subject was a little deflating. Why were they devoting their lives to such a futile endeavour? They were clearly jaded, I thought, if not outright depressed. Only gradually did I realise that this warning against drawing lessons from history was a valuable lesson in itself. If history teaches us anything at all, it is how little we can control or even predict our own fate.