Europe’s outlook in 2014

An unhealthy sense of complacency about Europe’s economic and political outlook pervades European policymaking circles. It does so despite the fact that the European periphery’s economy is still very depressed, which is driving a disturbing political divide between the euro’s southern and northern member countries. And there are few reasons to expect that the year ahead will bring progress either in reducing Europe’s record unemployment rate or in preventing a further fragmentation of its politics.

One of the more striking features of the European political economy over the past three years has been the radicalization of its politics. In Greece, for example, at the start of the economic crisis in early 2010, its two main centrist political parties, New Democracy and PASOK, received around 70 percent of the vote. Today, after six years of painful economic recession, those parties command barely 30 percent of the vote and extremist parties on both the left and the right have ascended.

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