The Foreign Service Journal, May 2018

28 MAY 2018 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL other countries in the region seeking to make a similar change. Following the victory of the Law and Justice Party in Poland in 2015, however, the European Union and human rights groups have raised concerns involving the courts and justice system, press freedom, nongovernmental organizations and treatment of the previous party in power. They have voiced similar concerns regarding Viktor Orban and his Fidesz Party in Hungary. As FreedomHouse notes in its 2018 survey, “In Hungary and Poland, populist leaders continued to consolidate power by uprooting democratic institutions and intimidating critics in civil society.” While Poland remains strongly suspicious of Putin, Orban has been much more receptive to returning to “business as usual” with Russia, threatening to undermine European unity in confronting the Putin challenge. That said, both countries joined with the United Kingdom, the United States and others in expelling Russian diplomats in March for the Kremlin’s alleged role in the poisoning of a former Russian spy and his daughter in the U.K. Turkey is another country going in the wrong direction; Freedom House moved it from the “partly free” to the “not free” category in this year’s survey, the “culmination of a long and accelerating slide” in that country, according to the human rights organization. Since a coup attempt in 2016, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has arrested tens of thousands and fired many more from various government and other jobs. More journalists are in prison in Turkey—roughly 150, many accused of support for the Gulenist movement—than in any other coun- try in the world. According to the Freedom House survey, “In addition to its dire consequences for detained Turkish citizens, shut- tered media outlets and seized businesses, the chaotic purge has become intertwined with an offensive against the Kurdish minority, which in turn has fueled Turkey’s diplomatic and military interventions in neighboring Syria and Iraq.” That has created problems for the United States and the forces it backs in Syria and Iraq. Again, the way Erdogan treats his own people reflects the way he aggressively and dangerously goes after forces he doesn’t like beyond Turkey’s borders. Beyond these three countries, right-wing populists and nationalists are winning seats in various European parliamen- tary elections, as well as in the European Parliament. They deni- grate democratic values, demonize immigrants and refugees, and play into the hands of Putin by threatening the sustainability of the democratic model. The fact that far-right leader Marine Le Pen made it into a runoff election against Emmanuel Macron is frightening, even if Macron ultimately won. The rise of the Alternative for Germany Party, the first far-right party to win representation in Germany’s Bundestag since 1945, should be additional cause for concern. The victory of the Five Star Move- ment and the League in Italy’s elections made Putin happy but has pro-E.U. and pro-democracy forces deeply concerned. The United Kingdom has long been one of the continent’s leaders in defending and promoting democracy, but Brexit has reduced its profile considerably in this area, and in the European Union more broadly. A Lack of Confidence Brexit demonstrates how Europe lost confidence in the path it was on—toward greater integration, solidifying of democratic gains and a market system. Negotiations between London and Brussels have damaged the union’s standing and energized other countries, such as Poland, to defy Brussels. Splits within the E.U. cause it to lose its appeal among aspiring nations like Ukraine and Georgia, as well as countries in the western Balkans. The desire to join the organization has long been an incentive for nations to undertake difficult reforms to meet the criteria for membership. If the image of the E.U. suggests confusion and disenchantment, aspiring states might rethink their goals and, in turn, abandon important but difficult democratic and economic reforms. That would be a further setback to the cause of democ- racy on the continent. Equally important, the European Union seems uncertain how best to fight the authoritarian challenge. In contrast to the strong sanctions imposed after Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, only four states—the United Kingdom, Estonia, Latvia and Lithu- ania—have imposed sanctions for Russia’s gross human rights abuses. Failure to enact measures like those the United States has in place under the 2016 Global Magnitsky Act (the Russia- specific Magnitsky Act passed in 2012) signals Europe’s weak- Brexit demonstrates how Europe lost confidence in the path it was on—toward greater integration, solidifying of democratic gains and a market system.