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The Spectator Podcast: The fight for Europe

On this week’s episode, we look at the emerging ambitions of the Visegrád Four in a new Europe. We also look at whether there’s a way out of the government’s current drift, and celebrate 70 years of radio’s finest quiz.

This week’s cover story looks at growing friction between two European factions. On one side, the Macron and Merkel led federalists are looking for greater integration, whilst, on the other, the Visegrád Four are starting to reassert their anti-immigration stance. Will the alliance hold, asks John O’Sullivan in the magazine, and can it arrest the momentum of the EU project? First off, we were joined by Sean Hanley from the School of Slavonic and East European Studies at UCL to understand what’s going on, and then by John himself, from Budapest, along with Mikołaj Kunicki from the University of Oxford. As John writes:

“The political status quo that existed after the Cold War is falling apart — but it has not yet settled down into a new system of parties and ideologies. Much is still in flux. The post-1989 left is collapsing almost everywhere: Czech social democrats got only 7 per cent in the elections; Poland’s left all but disappeared in the last few Polish elections, leaving a contest between an urban Whig party and a rural Tory one — the Civic Platform and Law and Justice respectively. Three years ago, five parties on the Hungarian left formed a single coalition to maximise their vote which, in the event, maxed out at 25 per cent compared to 20 per cent for the populist-right Jobbik party and 45 per cent for the ruling Fidesz conservatives. In Slovakia, the electoral contest is between a centre-right coalition and a Babis-type ex-communist entrepreneur turned ‘populist,’ Robert Fico, whose party dominates the scene.”

Next: “#wherestheboldandbravesofaritsdulldulldull” These are the words, if they can be described as words, of Nicholas Soames, criticising his own party.

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