Europe in the 1990s and Beyond: A Shift Towards Fractured Politics

Europe in the 1990s and Beyond: A Shift Towards Fractured Politics


The 1990s saw the political establishment in many European countries being rocked by allegations of financial malpractice, corruption scandals, and anti-immigration sentiments. This led to a shift towards more fractured politics, with the rise of nationalist and regional parties across the continent. The 9/11 attacks marked a turning point for Europe’s approach to multiculturalism and immigration. The speech reflects on the US-led ‘war on terror,’ the invasion of Afghanistan and its aftermath.

Table of Contents

  • Issues in French Politics and Italy’s Tangentopoli Scandal
  • New Labour’s ‘Third Way’ and Social Democracy in France and Germany
  • The Rise of Anti-Immigration Politics in Europe
  • Europe’s Response to Global Influences and the Aftermath of 9/11
  • The War on Terror and Its Impact on Europe


1. How did the Tangentopoli scandal in Italy affect the political establishment?

The Tangentopoli scandal was a huge corruption scandal in Italy that led to the dissolution of the country’s political establishment. The scandal involved kickbacks, bribes, and embezzlement on a massive scale, and widespread corruption was uncovered within the Italian political class. The scandal led to the formation of new political parties, including Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia, which promised to bring neo-liberal economic objectives and a new start to Italy, with populist and anti-establishment policies.

2. What was the ‘Third Way’ in social democracy?

The ‘Third Way’ was a model of social democracy that was pioneered by Tony Blair in the UK. It promised to transcend social divides, embrace market forces while maintaining social justice, and provide a new direction for the labour movement. This model of social democracy was soon emulated in France and Germany by Jospin and Schröder, respectively.

3. How did the rise of anti-immigration politics affect the political landscape in Europe?

The rise of nationalist, green, and regional parties across Europe highlighted anti-immigration sentiments and a growing appeal for these parties. These parties were marketed as anti-establishment and Europhobic due to their opposition to immigration. Immigration became an item of growing importance on the political agenda in the years to come and would continue to shape European politics for many years to come.

4. How did 9/11 and the ‘war on terror’ impact Europe?

The 9/11 attacks marked a turning point for Europe’s approach to multiculturalism and immigration. The ‘war on terror’ that followed the attacks led to a widening conflict between Europe and rising Islamic fundamentalism, with terrorist attacks soon scarring Europe’s cities and affecting multicultural relations. This showed that Europe could not be hermetically sealed off from the terror that was commonplace in more disturbed regions of the globe. The war also had a notable impact on Europe’s relationship with the United States and brought new challenges and issues to the forefront.

5. What was the impact of the invasion of Afghanistan?

The invasion of Afghanistan was a part of the US-led ‘war on terror.’ It was an effort to dismantle terrorist groups that had long been working in Afghanistan. Initially, the war went well for coalition forces with anti-Taliban forces controlling about a third of the country and retaking Kabul. However, the Taliban quickly began rebuilding their strength, resulting in the Western powers being unable to achieve their primary objectives. The war had significant impacts on Afghanistan, with many reports of civilian casualties and long-term infrastructure damage.


The 1990s saw a shift towards more fractured politics in Europe. The exposure of Europe to global influences over the centuries, starting from the Middle Ages and unpacking British colonisation in India, Dutch trading in Indonesia, and European expansion into Africa and Asia, play a significant role in shaping Europe’s political landscape. However, the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks marked a turning point for Europe, with significant impacts on attitudes towards multiculturalism and immigration. The war on terror and the invasion of Afghanistan brought their own set of challenges to Europe, including an increased threat from terrorism and the long-term political, social, and economic impact of the war.

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