Produced by The Local’s Creative Studio in partnership with Arte 

The video series shining a light on personal European stories

The video series shining a light on personal European stories

Every day we are confronted with news and views on the many issues that concern us as people living in Europe. 

The lives of those living in modern Europe are subject to ever greater, and often conflicting, pressures. But monitoring the flow of events can easily seem bewildering, abstract and impersonal. Too often the very real, personal impact of a news story is hidden from sight.

Pan-European television channel, ARTE.tv addresses this gap with ARTE RE: European Stories, a series uncovering the main issues issues impacting Europeans today.

Migration and movement

Digitalization and increased transport infrastructure means that the world has never been so small. National borders are no longer the barriers they once were to movement, and as a consequence, many people are migrating to where they feel that there are more opportunities. 

In the ARTE RE: series, Viktoria and Zoltan make the move from Hungary to Germany. Both workers for Bosch, they see Germany as a land removed from the ‘frustration, nepotism and corruption’ that they see in Hungary. However, it’s not all smooth sailing. The language barrier, job rejections for Zoltan and a lack of assistance for new arrivals all must be overcome.

The series also follows Pippa, who is the British descendant of Jewish Germans as she seeks to return to the land of her ancestors. Pippa, especially, wants to learn about her grandfather’s role in the First World War, before the wide-scale persecutions of Jews began. However, it is really her homeland? What connects her to it? How long does it take us to lose our sense of identity? 

As Pippa muses as she follows her family’s history: “Where exactly was I? Home or elsewhere?

Follow Viktoria, Zoltan and Pippa as they navigate their way through migration journeys with the ARTE RE: series from ARTE.tv

Pippa searches for her Jewish roots in Frankfurt. Photo: ARTE.tv
Viktoria & Zoltan dance in front of the Brandenburg Gate. Photo: Arte.tv

Saving the planet

Reversing the damage that man has done to the planet has been a hot-button issue for decades. In recent years, the startling increase in global warming has brought the issue to the fore. It seems that every day we are faced with debates over what can be done to prevent perhaps fatal climate change. 

ARTE RE: takes us to see people making extraordinary choices in the battle against climate change. In France, Vincent struggles against scepticism and the challenges of farming as he tries to bring a hemp crop to fruition – a material that he believes is far more sustainable than other crops used to make both foodstuffs and fabrics. 

In Wales, the Watkinsons live a life completely off the grid. They generate their own power, maintain their own water source and pick their own food, in an attempt to live in such a way that their ‘ecological footprint’ is far smaller than the average consumer.

As Matthew Watkinson states: “We’re only using our fair share of the earth’s renewable resources. In the West, we’re living as if we have two or three planets. In America, they’re living as if they have five.

 “The party is coming to an end, I think. The planet can’t take it, the climate can’t take it.” 

Far away in the Hebrides, Rock lives a similar lifestyle in such a way that it leaves as little trace as possible – yet as both can see, change may be irreversible, despite their efforts. 

Rock, for example, ponders the inexorable arrival of plastic on his island: “More and more keeps coming in. We can’t win”. 

See how the Watkinsons, Vincent and Rock are all trying to live in harmony with an earth that is rapidly changing, with the ARTE RE: series from ARTE.tv 

Rock walks in the Hebrides. Photo: ARTE.tv

Matteo Salvini and supporters in Rome. Footage: ARTE.tv

Populism and the power of the people 

With an ever-changing environment, and human movement on an unprecedented, it can be hard for governments to keep up in governing individual nations. This has both fed, and enabled a rise in populist movements that who have scapegoated both certain minority groups, and institutions such as the European Union. These groups are portrayed as being technocratic, out of touch and not fit for the realities of the 21st century. 

In one recent ARTE RE: episode, Italy’s Republic Day is the scene for rising tensions, as supporters of populist politician Matteo Salvini meet Daniel and Emmanuele, supporters of a pro-European group. Can Daniel’s impassioned entreaties of “Italy and Europe, together strong!” win over his opponents, or will it only further inflame their anger? With emotions high, and the pan-European response to the coronavirus pandemic at the forefront of many Italians minds, will there be a chance for dialogue – or will polarisation continue? 

Walk through an anti-European protest with Daniel, Emmanuele and their friends as they seek to stand up for what they believe in, in the acclaimed ARTE RE: series from ARTE.tv

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POLITICS

EXPLAINED: How right-wing is Norway?

Politics in Europe appears to be trending towards the right, with right-wing and far-right parties performing well in recent elections in Sweden and Italy. So, how much of a right-wing presence is there in Norway? 

EXPLAINED: How right-wing is Norway?

Across Europe, recent election results have shown a trend towards the right. In Italy, election winner Giorgia Meloni of the far-right Brothers of Italy party is set to become the new PM, while in Sweden, the anti-immigration Swedish Democrats will form part of a right-wing government there. 

Norway appears to be one of the exceptions to this recent trend. In last year’s election, the centre-right government was ousted in favour of a minority coalition of the Labour Party and Centre Party, with the new regime relying on budgetary and parliamentary support from the Socialist Left Party. 

So, where does the country lie politically? Professor Knut Heidar, Professor Emeritus at the Department of Political Science at the University of Oslo, said that Norway could be placed moderately to the left of the political spectrum when compared to the rest of northern Europe. 

“(There is a) broad agreement among the parties about redistribution (of wealth) and an active welfare state. Also, the far-right Progress Party argues for broader state welfare provisions for ‘ordinary people. At the same time, (there is) a broad consensus on providing good opportunities for private enterprise, although (there are) disagreements (between the parties) on taxes,” he explained to The Local. He added that Norway’s political leaning as a country was typical of Scandinavia as a whole. 

Historically, the Labour Party has been Norway’s biggest and most popular political party, with the Conservatives, the country’s largest right-wing party, winning the 2nd or 3rd most seats in parliamentary elections. 

However, Norway is not too far removed from eight years of centre-right government, which included the Progress Party (FRP) for over six of those years. 

The presence of the far-right party in governemnt has had the effect of normalising the populist party as one which could be seen as being part of government- not just in opposition, according to Heidar. 

When asked what impact the Progress Party had while in government, Heidar said: “(It was) small in the overall picture, but they won some symbolic victories. More importantly, (they) moved public debate onto issues that previously had been ‘no-go’ areas.” 

Eventually, though, governmental fatigue would set in for both the Progress Party and Conservative Party and their popularity dipped by the time the 2021 election rolled around. The Conservatives and Progress Party ended up being the two biggest losers on election night, losing nine and six seats respectively. 

The Progress Party would leave governemnt more than a year before the election though. It walked out of government over Norway’s decision to allow a woman linked with the Islamic State terror group back into the country on humanitarian grounds.

What draws voters in Norway to the right? 

Heidar explained that voters of the Conservative Party are typically drawn to its policies on tax and competition between the public and private sector for public services such as health, social services and education.

The political scientist explained that voters of the Progress Party are most concerned with immigration, slashing government red tape, and cutting taxes. 

In this regard, Heidar explained, the Progress Party is similar to other right-wing parties in Scandinavia but that it was less extreme than populist parties in Denmark and Sweden. He added that there was one aspect in which the Progress Party outperformed other parties on the far-right. 

“(They are) also much better in building party organisation and educating their politicians, some of which were much more liberal (in a European sense) than populist,” he said. 

What about the long-term?

The shift from a centre-right to a centre-left government is unlikely to represent a shift in the paradigm or indicate a longer-term trend towards the left. 

Instead, it may simply represent a continuation of the politics and policies that have come before, according to Heidar. 

“No”, the professor said when asked if there was any evidence that Norway could shift further to the right or the left in the longer term. He added that due to serious challenges internationally, the country would likely favour stability over sweeping changes. 

READ ALSO: Why isn’t Norway an EU member?

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