My year-end column will be a tour of the political horizon, with a reflection on the comparative virtues of good government. But anyone gripped by the fear that I am going to sermonize some treacle about civics at them has nothing to fear.
In all of the European Union, apart from a few of the very small states, only Germany, Finland, Poland, and the Czechs qualify as well-governed. They have all kept unemployment and deficits under control, returned to economic growth, and avoided catastrophic immigration policies. It is the last problem that has bedeviled the otherwise fairly commendable Dutch (although their taxes are too high).
An honorary mention must go to Hungary, whose leader, Viktor Orban, has sent the IMF packing, refused austerity of the hair-shirted Mother-Hubbard school that has made matters worse in Greece, and has shown the panache of Count Andrassy (who made Hungary a co-equal force in the Austrian Empire, largely by his prowess with Habsburg princesses). Another special case is Belgium, which has recently installed a government after a year with just the king, civil service, and armed forces. The lesson in this government-free sabbatical is not a flattering one for politicians.
Happy New Year everyone. ”Stay safe” and I wish everyone all the best in the year ahead.