Moment of unity in a disintegrating world
Televised pictures from Barcelona of police clubbing and dragging voters away from the polls, injuring hundreds, may make this a Selma moment in the history of Europe.
This is the first of the specters haunting Europe: the desire of ethnic minorities like Catalans in Spain and Scots in Britain to break free of the mother country and create new nations, as the Norwegians did in 1905 and the Irish did in 1921.
The second is the desire of growing millions of Europeans to overthrow the transnational regime that has been raised above them, the EU.
The English succeeded with Brexit in 2016. Today, almost every country in Europe has an anti-EU party like the National Front in France, which won 35 percent of the presidential vote in 2017.
Beyond the tribal call of ethnic solidarity is a growing resentment in Northern Europe at having to bail out the chronic deficits of the South, and in Southern Europe at the austerity imposed by the North.
The German elections underlined a new threat to European unity. The ruling coalition of Angela Merkel's CDU and SPD suffered major losses. The Bavarian-based sister party of the CDU, the CSU, was itself shaken.
Angela Merkel as the new "leader of the West" in the time of Trump is an idea that has come and gone. She is a diminished figure.
Some 13 percent of the votes went to Alternative for Germany, a far-right party that, for the first time, will enter the Bundestag. In states of the former East Germany, the AfD ran second or even first.
What produced this right turn in Germany is what produced it in Hungary and Poland: migration from Africa and the Middle East that is creating socially and culturally indigestible enclaves in and around the great cities of Europe.
Europeans, like Trumpians, want their borders secured and closed to the masses of the Third World.