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The Maastricht Diplomat

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The Game of Europe’s Thrones

After 8 years playing with our emotions, making us laugh, scream, jump and cry, Game of Thrones is over. The last episode divided the opinion into two camps: the disappointed, who signed a petition for the season to be re-written, and the satisfied, who argue the untying of each character makes sense and that there would have been people disappointed not matter the ending. However, both camp agree on one point: we are sad it is over. One less reason to be happy on a Monday morning, which leaves us with… Nothing much really.  

Luckily, we still have real life politics to surprise us; and some episodes can easily compete with a TV show. For example, last Saturday in Austria, a hidden-camera recording publication has led to the Vice-Chancellor’s resignation. The video was recorded in July 2017 in Ibiza, and is now referred to as ‘the Ibiza-gate’. It was leaked by two German newspapers and show the leader of the far-right Freedom Party (FPÖ) Heinz-Christian Strache meeting a supposed Russian oligarch’s niece. During the conversation, he offers her public contracts if she buys the Austrian newspaper Kronen Zeitung and compels it to support the FPÖ. At the time, he was running for the Austrian parliamentary elections, in which his party arrived second, leading to a coalition government between the FPÖ and the ÖVP (the centre-right People’s Party). A few hours after the video was leaked, Strache resigned, and the Austrian government collapsed. But the drama is not over yet: on Monday, the Chancellor Sebastian Kurz (ÖVP) is facing a vote of no confidence.

On Thursday, another show started releasing its last episodes: the European Elections. The Netherlands and the United Kingdom had to vote on the 23rd of May, and although the exit-polls  in the Low Countries showed unexpected results (with Timmermans’ centre-left PvDA unexpectedly arriving first), the UK managed to surprise us even more. European voters across the country were turned away from polling stations. The hash tag #DeniedMyVote began trending in Britain as hundreds of voters were denied the right to vote because of an administrative error by local councils. The British government is facing calls to launch an urgent investigation into the treatment of these citizens, and is at risk of being sued on the ground of discrimination.

Still across the Channel, on Friday was the last twist of the Brexit saga happened around noon: the resignation of Theresa May on June 7th. Many would say it was predictable, given the many resignations within her government during the last week, on top of everything else. But I have to say, I was still surprise when I read the news, and definitely felt compassion when watching her speech. Who will replace her as leader of the Conservative Party? Boris Johnson? Dominic Raab? Jeremy Hunt? Well, there’s another episode to wait for!

In any case, if you already feel nostalgic tonight because you do not have any TV show to watch, or if you have never watched Game of Thrones and you just do not know what series to start, go for real life politics! Plus, tonight the last episode of the European Election will finally be out, and it is worth watching. The turn-out increased everywhere in Europe in comparison to 2014, and the results will definitely affect your life more than medieval Kings and Queens fighting for a Throne made of swords.

Chirine Chalak studies European Studies at FASoS and writes for the MD

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