Weekly Digest: April 8

Amsterdam’s Red Light district by day (photo credit Bert K., accessed via Wikimedia Commons)

Amsterdam’s Red Light district by day (photo credit Bert K., accessed via Wikimedia Commons)

Politics

Poland's Populists Pick a New Top Enemy: Gay People

The Polish brand of right-wing authoritarian populism rests on fear, as does right-wing European populism in general. This movement came into power based on fear of migrants, but since the refugee crisis has abated, Poland’s populists have seized upon a new enemy: the LGBTQ+ community. Some mayors have openly supported gay rights, and an up-and-coming gay politician is winning many hearts and minds. While this targeting will certainly hurt Poland more in the eyes of the international community, the move unfortunately seems that it will successfully gun up support for Poland’s ruling Law and Justice party at the moment.

Brexit: What Happens Now?

Nobody knows. Prime Minister Theresa May promised to resign if Parliament would pass something, and Parliament refused to take her up on that offer: it seems that they would rather have Theresa May than a Brexit deal. The complicated flowcharts in the BBC article show the confusion regarding this topic as the extended deadline looms in less than a week.

Economics

Italy’s Move Towards China

The Italian Prime Minister, Giuseppe Conte, welcomed in Rome the Chinese President, Xi Jinping, not only to watch an opera show together but also sign one of the biggest deals in history, the Belt and Road Initiative, whose value is often estimated at $1trn. Despite opposition from his own party and Italy’s European partners, PM Conte hopes the deal will develop Italy’s infrastructure and boost its exports to China.

Irish health care and Brexit

Many initially speculated that the prospect of a “hard Brexit” could act as a uniting force for Ireland, but by now it has become clear that the British NHS is enough to counter this force. The 1.8m people of Northern Ireland who enjoy free access to the state-funded health care system now seem increasingly unlikely to give up on it, even in the face of the hard Brexit and its potential consequences.

Culture/Society

Homophobia Scandal Hits Plovdiv, Bulgaria’s European Capital of Culture

Amidst rising acts of homophobia in Bulgaria, a photography exhibition in Plovdiv, one of the European capitals of culture for 2019, is under attack by the local government. Officials are attempting to stop an exhibit entitled “Balkan Pride”, which features photographs from gay pride events that occured in the Balkans, with an MP even saying that they will use “all legal and, if required, illegal means” to stop the exhibition.

Amsterdam Will Ban Red Light District Tours

Amsterdam’s government is banning tours of the Red Light District, stating that it is inappropriate how sex workers in the area are treated like a tourist attraction. This decision connects to the larger, promelatic issue of locals being treated like cultural objects, or tourist attractions to stare at.