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Europe seems unstable. Here’s what’s going on

A pro-Brexit demonstration in London. Andrew Testa/The New York Times

Trouble seems to be bubbling up across Europe, including among the United States’ closest allies.

Richard Haass, president of the Council of Foreign Relations, tweeted last week, “In an instant Europe has gone from being the most stable region in the world to anything but,” noting developments in Britain, France, Germany, and other countries.

On Monday, he noted political turmoil in Britain and France — as well as the United States’ own tumultuous political times.

“A bad day as far as politics for what we used to call the West: political chaos over Brexit in the UK, political capitulation in France that will not satisfy anyone or settle anything, and a political crisis in the United States that continues to grow in breadth and depth alike,” Haass tweeted.


Washington Post chief correspondent Dan Balz said in an analysis that there were "familiar and common undercurrents, born of the same forces — rebellion against globalization, fear of immigrants and distrust of traditional leaders” roiling Europe and the United States.

Here’s a quick rundown from Globe wire services of what’s happening in Britain, France, and Germany:


In Britain, Prime Minister Theresa faced a no-confidence vote in Parliament on Wednesday because of criticism of her Brexit deal with the European Union, The Associated Press reported.

RELATED: Britain’s Theresa May survives no-confidence vote, remains prime minister

She made a last-minute appeal Wednesday as the vote neared, saying removing her from power her would plunge the country into even more uncertainty.

She said she would fight the no-confidence vote ‘‘with everything I’ve got.’’

The challenge to May’s leadership throws into further chaos Britain’s already rocky path out of the European Union, which it is due to leave in March.

Many Conservative lawmakers have been growing angry with May over her handling of Brexit. The challenge comes days after she postponed a vote to approve a divorce deal with the EU to avoid all but certain defeat.


May won the vote. But her Brexit problems almost certainly aren’t over.


In France, President Emmanuel Macron was striving Wednesday to show he’s responding to “yellow vest” protesters’ demands for tax relief, The Associated Press reported.

Earlier this week, Macron appealed in an unusual televised address to the nation for calm after violent protests that have rocked the country for nearly a month and undermined the authority of his government.

He announced tax relief for retirees and an increase in the minimum wage.

Some members of the “yellow vest” movement have already called for new protests Saturday, arguing the government’s measures were not sufficient.

Others have called for a ‘‘truce,’’ acknowledging that progress has been made.

Macron’s government is also about to face a no-confidence vote in the lower house of parliament, prompted by far-left and Socialist lawmakers, but the vote is not expected to succeed.

Macron on Wednesday was also scrambling to respond to a terrorist attack Tuesday night in the city of Strasbourg.


In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel announced in late October that she would step down as head of her conservative party in December after 18 years and wouldn’t seek a fifth term as chancellor in 2021, launching a leadership transition in Europe’s biggest economy, The Associated Press reported.


Merkel has led her conservative Christian Democratic Union since 2000 and Germany since 2005. The announcement stunned the German political world.

The decision reflected pressure on the longest-serving head of state in the European Union after a streak of devastating election defeats, and it set off a scramble among would-be successors.

Merkel’s preferred heir, who was picked as party leader Friday, was seen as wanting to continue in her tradition of moderation and big-tent centrism. A top rival was seen as likely to push Merkel’s party to the right, but he was rebuffed.

Material from Globe wire services was used in this report.