Europe’s got a fever, and the only prescription is…more referendums.
Eurasia Group, a geopolitical risk consultancy, shared this map today after analyzing EU countries for the potential of further Brexit-like events:
It’s not the type of quantitative data we usually seek, but in this case we’ll make an exception – Eurasia Group, headed by Ian Bremmer, is the largest political consultancy in the world.
Austrout or Nexit?
According to Eurasia’s analysis, the two countries that are most likely to have referendums on EU membership are Austria and The Netherlands.
It’s been 20 years since Austria held the referendum to initially join the EU. However, according to a pre-Brexit poll, nearly 40% of the population now wants to hold a referendum to leave.
“Europe can collapse because of the refugee crisis and uncontrolled immigration,” says Sebastian Kurz, the Austrian Foreign Minister. “Only by a speedy transformation can we prevent a wildfire. The EU needs to be rearranged. Everyone, who is for Europe, also needs to be a force in making the necessary changes.”
In other words, there must be fast, sweeping changes to their arrangement or they are out. Unfortunately, making fast, sweeping decisions is not what the European Union is known for.
The Dutch share a similar sentiment.
Despite Netherlands being a founding member of the EU and currently holding the EU presidency, a June poll showed 54% of people want a referendum to leave. So far, in a theoretical vote, the independence camp is leading with 48% of the vote, while 45% would seek to remain in the EU.
While Eurasia Group sees Austria and the Netherlands as the frontrunners for the next referendum vote, there are many other dominoes that could fall. France, Italy, and Sweden are among the key countries that have strong Eurosceptic movements.
If a Brexit result was a tinderbox that got the fire going, then any major developments in these countries could be the gasoline. Another “exit” event would make clear to everyone that there is an inevitability of failure around the Union.
Brexit negotiations and populist dissent will be in the news for some time, and markets will be volatile, extremely sensitive, and over-reactive as a result.