Billionaire philanthropist George Soros penned an op-ed in The Guardian Tuesday in which he argued that anti-EU forces in the U.K., Germany, Italy and elsewhere are driving the European bloc toward the same fate suffered by the Soviet Union in 1991.
"Most of us assume the future will more or less resemble the present, but this is not necessarily so. In a long and eventful life, I have witnessed many periods of what I call radical disequilibrium. We are living in such a period today."
The big picture: Soros argues that European parliamentary elections in May will be "an inflection point,"with nationalist, Eurosceptic parties projected to win at least one-third of seats, according to the European Council on Foreign Affairs. As kingmakers, these parties could use their vote share to block consensus and limit actions on the rule of law or civil liberties.
Soros highlights the precarious situations in Germany, the U.K., Italy and Hungary as those most threatening to the long-term health of the EU.
- In Germany, the far-right Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) has become the largest opposition party in the federal government — and has the establishment parties, and Chancellor Angela Merkel, in retreat.
- In the U.K., where Brexit will be "the defining event for the country for decades to come," both the Conservative and Labour parties are bitterly divided.
- In Italy, support for EU membership rests at just 44%, as the country's far-right, populist coalition continues to rail against globalism.
- And in Hungary, Prime Minister Viktor Orban has transformed the country into an "illiberal democracy," while the center-right European coalition to which his party belongs — the European People's Party — sits idly by.