Angst, grief, pain: Europe in turmoil as extremists form new alliances | Simon Tisdall

A real menace looms as we fret about Brexit and Germany and France sign symbolic accords

It could simply be a coincidence. Or perhaps the decision to exhibit Edvard Munch’s most famous work, The Scream, at the British Museum in April, closely following Britain’s scheduled 29 March exit from the EU, is an artful piece of deliberate subversion. Either way, the Norwegian painter’s celebrated depiction of extreme pain occasioned by high anxiety, mental instability, grief, loneliness and separation seems especially well-suited to the times.

Yet while Britain heads for a potentially spectacular nervous breakdown, an agitated Europe is not in much better shape. Nervousness abounds about the EU’s prospects and cohesion, with the focus on European parliament elections on 23-26 May. This normally dull, uninspiring contest is turning into a battlefield on which a definitive struggle over Europe’s direction may be fought and decided. The last elections in 2014 saw the lowest ever turnout; 2019 could be very different.

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