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The Rise of the Sovereignism Movement in Eastern Europe

Photo: AlearningFamily.com

For the past couple of years, a political trend known as sovereignism has gained momentum in European politics. This movement, which emphasizes national sovereignty and often expresses skepticism towards supranational entities like the European Union (EU), is particularly resonant in Eastern Europe. As the EU continues to grapple with issues ranging from migration to economic policy, sovereignist figures and parties have positioned themselves as defenders of their nations’ autonomy and traditional values. This analysis delves into the sovereignist trend in Eastern Europe, focusing on Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, and Hungary, and examines the visions of key political figures who champion this ideology.

Romania: Cozmin Gusa and the Gold Movement

In Romania, Cozmin Gusa, the leader of the Gold Movement and a presidential candidate, embodies the sovereignist ethos. Gusa’s vision for Romania is one that prioritizes national interests, cultural identity, and economic independence from what he perceives as overbearing EU regulations. His political narrative often revolves around reclaiming Romania’s decision-making power and ensuring that national policies are tailored to the specific needs of Romanians. Gusa argues for a recalibration of Romania’s relationship with the EU, advocating for a partnership that respects national sovereignty while still benefiting from economic collaboration and security cooperation.

Serbia: Aleksandar Vučić and the Serbian Progressive Party

In Serbia, a country that is a candidate for EU membership, President Aleksandar Vučić and his Serbian Progressive Party have displayed sovereignist tendencies despite the country’s European aspirations. Vučić’s approach to sovereignty is nuanced; he seeks to maintain Serbia’s autonomy, particularly in relation to the contentious issue of Kosovo, while also pursuing closer ties with both the EU and Russia. Vučić’s vision includes balancing these relationships to Serbia’s advantage, securing economic benefits, and protecting Serbian territorial integrity and cultural heritage.

Slovakia: Igor Matovič and Ordinary People

In Slovakia, former Prime Minister Igor Matovič and his party, Ordinary People and Independent Personalities (OĽaNO), have expressed sovereignist sentiments. Matovič’s approach to governance has emphasized anti-corruption, transparency, and the importance of safeguarding Slovak interests within the EU framework. While not outrightly eurosceptic, Matovič has been critical of certain EU policies and has advocated for more stringent control over immigration and a defense of Slovak national values.

Hungary: Viktor Orbán and Fidesz

Perhaps one of the most prominent faces of sovereignism in Eastern Europe is Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and his party, Fidesz. Orbán has been a vocal critic of the EU’s migration policies and has worked to strengthen Hungary’s borders. His vision is of a Hungary that retains its cultural and Christian heritage, and he has been at the forefront of promoting the concept of an “illiberal democracy,” where the state has a strong role in guiding society while maintaining a degree of political pluralism.

Implications for Society and Politics

The sovereignist trend in Eastern Europe has significant implications for both national societies and European politics as a whole. At the national level, the emphasis on sovereignty can lead to stronger cultural cohesion and a sense of national pride. However, it can also result in increased polarization, as debates over national identity and autonomy often evoke strong emotions and divergent opinions.
For European politics, the rise of sovereignism presents both challenges and opportunities. On one hand, it can complicate the process of European integration and the functioning of the EU, as sovereignist governments may resist certain EU policies or seek to renegotiate the terms of their membership. On the other hand, it can serve as a catalyst for reform within the EU, prompting the bloc to address concerns about democratic accountability, subsidiarity, and the balance of power between Brussels and member states.
The sovereignist trend in Eastern Europe, represented by figures like Cozmin Gusa, Aleksandar Vučić, Igor Matovič, and Viktor Orbán, is a force that cannot be ignored in contemporary European politics. It reflects a deep-seated desire among populations to assert their national identity and control their destinies in an increasingly globalized world. As these countries navigate their relationships with the EU and their place in the wider international community, the sovereignist vision will undoubtedly shape the policies and societal norms within their borders. How this trend evolves will be critical to the future of a Europe that is at once united and diverse. 
By Michele Brunori

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