News | Noticed in the Press 2016

Noticed in the Press – July 11, 2016

In the July 10 edition of The Washington Post, a book review by David E. Hoffman: "Recalling the confusion and regret over Soviet collapse"

The book is: "Secondhand Time  The Last of the Soviets" by Svetlana Alexievich, Random House, $30, 470 pp.


In the July 9 issue of the Hungarian daily Magyar Nemzet, an opinion piece by István Dobozi: "Brexit – Az elfelejtett dimenzió"


In his opinion piece "Brexit – the forgotten dimension", Coalition member István Dobozi challenges the prevailing view, particularly on the liberal side of the political spectrum, that the British voters were defrauded and demagoguery won over democracy.  This elitist view considers a large chunk of the voters (17 million of them) as politically ignorant, or even xenophobic to the massive inflow of foreign workers and the constant threat of illegal immigration.  Conflating the legitimate concerns over economic insecurity and racism is unjustified.  In fact, the majority of Leave voters  rejected the EU because they think it has become an out-of-control and overbearing institution.  Furthermore, the EU has failed in achieving the much-promised convergence. Contrarily, the author claims, income and development divergence has prevailed both across countries (center vs. periphery) and within individual member countries. In this regard, Britain stands out as having the starkest income and wealth inequalities in Europe.  The EU and globalization in general have indeed divided the nation into winners and losers, and brought down crashing the Blairite myth of a post-class society.  The Brexiters have risen up against the status quo.

Mr. Dobozi lets the underlying social facts tell the story of Brexit.  For the most part, class was the deciding factor in the vote, which dents the claim that the anti-EU sentiment was driven by disdain of foreign workers. In fact, the Leave-Remain divide splits almost perfectly along social lines. For example, of local authorities that have a high number of manufacturing jobs a whopping 82% voted Leave compared to 42% in areas with low manufacturing activity. Of local authorities with average house prices of less than 282,000 pounds, 79% voted Leave; where house prices were above that figure, just 28% did.  Mr. Dobozi concludes by noting that these facts strongly suggest that British voters were rather aware of the stakes involved in the Brexit referendum, including their own economic interests.  Unless Brussels draws the right lessons from Britain, Brexit may well trigger a domino effect across Europe.



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