PARIS, June 27 — It started with “Grexit”, the long trumpeted but never realised axing of Greece from the European Union.
It was then reborn as “Brexit” as Britain started down the — this time voluntary — path of leaving the bloc.
The “-exit” formulation was coined by two economists from US financial giant Citigroup in February 2012 to describe the possible of departure of Greece from the EU.
It has now taken on a life of its own on social media, with eurosceptics across the continent all clamouring for their own vote on EU membership:
French far-right leader Marine Le Pen called for a “Frexit” shortly after the results of Britain’s membership referendum were announced. “Victory for Freedom! As I have been asking for years, we must now have the same referendum in France and EU countries,” she declared on Twitter.
“Now it is our turn,” trumpeted Geert Wilders, the leader of the anti-Islam far-right Freedom Party (PVV) in the Netherlands, after Britain opted out of the EU. Wilders has promised to make a referendum on a “Nexit” a central plank of his party’s election campaign.
Austria’s version comes from Oesterreich, the country’s name in Austrian. And the idea is gaining ground in a country where far right party leader Norbert Hofer came within a hair’s width of being elected to the largely ceremonial but coveted post of president last month. “Outstria” has been suggested as an alternative.
The far right Sweden Democrats have floated the idea of a “Swexit”, with opinion polls suggesting support for leaving the EU stands at 31 percent.
Although the English version doesn’t quite hold the right connotations, a petition calling for a Finnish exit has garnered thousands of signatures.
The phrase has emerged in the Danish press, where the populist Danish People’s Party (DPP) has been calling for a renegotiation of its EU accords.
It has appeared in French- and English-language media, but the idea of a “Gerxit” has little traction back at home in Germany. Though right-wing populist Alternative for Germany (AfD) party Frauke Petry did describe “Brexit” as a warning to the EU. “If the EU does not abandon its quasi-socialist experiment of ever-greater integration then the European people will follow the Brits and take back their sovereignty,” he said.
A bid to leave the EU has also not gained much ground at home in Italy, a founding member of the union—apart from with the country’s most prominent far-right politician, Matteo Salvini. “Cheers to the bravery of free citizens,” the leader of the anti-immigration, anti-EU Northern League wrote on Twitter. “Heart, head and pride beat lies, threats and blackmail. THANKS UK, now it is our turn #Brexit”. — AFP