Weekly Digest: October 28

Every week, the head editors of the European Review gather and analyze the most salient topics of the week, and present them to you in the form of a easy-to-read digest. Enjoy!

Politics

British politician at heart of #MeToo scandal named

On Thursday, British MP Peter Hain revealed the name of a British tycoon at the heart of a major #MeToo scandal in Britain: Sir Philip Green, the chair of a well-known British retail company, after a court had ordered his name kept secret. The next day, the Guardian revealed that Green had paid seven figure sums to his victims in order to keep them silent about the accusations. Although the so-called “name and shame” process has revealed the truth about yet another powerful white man, it is still a shame that Britain’s legal system kept the truth hidden for so long and that it took a MP acting under parliamentary privilege to reveal the accusations against Green.

Russian GRU accidentally reveals agents’ children

Russia’s intelligence service, known for its (alleged) role in meddling in the American presidential election, had a bit of an “oops” moment this week, as a savvy pension fund investigator found out that the GRU had tried to disguise the identities of its operatives’ children by changing their birthdates by 100 years (i.e. a 2005 birth was listed as being a 1905 birth). Although silly moments like this bring into question the ability of Russia’s intelligence services to conduct sophisticated attacks, this is probably more the exception than the rule.

Exit polls in Irish presidential election indicate win for incumbent

In an election with low turnout, exit polls have indicated that voters have reelected current president Michael Higgins, the holder of a mostly ceremonial position, with enough votes to avoid a runoff. Voters have also appeared to remove a reference to blasphemy in the Irish constitution with a fairly large margin. Along with Ireland’s recent legalization of abortion, this vote indicates that Ireland, formerly regarded to be fairly conservative, has shedded at least some of that conservatism.

Hesse election will ask questions of Merkel’s government

After a crucial loss for Angela Merkel’s governing coalition last week in Bavaria, voters will head to the polls today (Sunday, October 28) in the state of Hesse, and polls indicate similar results to Bavaria’s in Hesse: a decline in the Christian Democrats and Social Democrats and an increase in parties like the Greens and the Alternative for Germany (AfD). If results match the polls, Angela Merkel’s party will be more on the rocks than ever before.

Britain opens all combat roles to women

In the midst of Donald Trump’s actions to reduce the categories of people allowed to serve in the American military (see his attempted ban on transgender soldiers), Britain has gone the opposite direction in allowing women to serve in all military roles, including in combat roles. Although this is a seminal event in military relations, it still illuminates how far America has to go in terms of gender equality, and the decision will reactivate the debate over whether a nation’s military should represent the diversity of its people or should exclude women for the sake of combat readiness.

Economics

Google Suffers a Salutary Setback in Berlin

Google has scrapped its plans to build a new campus in Berlin. This comes after two years of protests from residents citing fears of gentrification. However, the news disappoints Berliners worried that the city is no longer welcoming to investors.

FinTech to Boost Euro Internationally

In order to establish the Euro as a valid currency internationally and as a resilient and stable for monetary exchange, the EU is considering using new technologies to encourage other countries to trade in euro-currency.

Possible Prolongation of UK's Austerity due to Brexit

In the strive to redeem the cutbacks and austerity of the past decade and move away from a possible necktie with the Labour party, Prime Minister Theresa May has commissioned Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond to find more than 20 billion pounds for the National Health Service. However, this attempt might be threatened by the effectiveness of the deal or no-deal Brexit.

Culture/Society

Art Exhibition Highlights Human Side of European Migration

Art has been and continues to be a decisively political and social instrument, an effective means to portray a message in novel and original ways. Manifesta 12, a traveling European art exhibit currently on display in Palermo, Sicily, poignantly explores the subject of human movement and cohabitation through 40 different pieces, a current and contentious topic in a country that is in the spotlight of the subject of Mediterranean migration. These and the other many displays work to engage the public and raise awareness of the realities of and stories within human migration and cohabitation in Europe though avant-garde works.

On this Matriarchal European Island, Ancient Customs Thrive

“Europe’s last matriarchal society” has survived and preserved its culture against exceptional odds. The small island of Kihnu in Estonia was subjected to Soviet occupation, Nazi occupation, and Soviet reoccupation, yet somehow much of its core cultural practices remain. However, its survival is still in question, as it faces new issues of losing families and younger generations to mainland Estonia and becoming a vacation destination for wealthy Estonians, its economy is dependent on cultural tourism.

Hungary’s University Ban on Gender Studies Heats Up Culture War

A society’s culture can often be revealed through it’s educational system; the doctrines and information that the country instills within its youth are key in shaping the cultural future of the nation. In Hungary, the battle between those who force fundamental values and fear modern change and the newer members of Hungarian society has taken a key turn in the direction of the fundamental ruling elite, as the government banned the study of gender studies from all private and public universities in the country. This cultural battle between leftists and conservatives has been plaguing Hungary, and continues to be a defining issue for the nation.