Comment

No clear conclusions from the European Parliament Elections

Denis MacShane / Jun 2024

Photo: Shutterstock

 

The BBC was reporting the European Parliament as an historic win for the extreme right. Not quite. The mainstream centre-right European People’s Party (EPP) won 8 extra seats. David Cameron led the Tories out of the EPP in 2009 to support the creation of a new anti-European grouping which includes the Mussolini heritage party Brothers of Italy headed by Giorgia Meloni which has launched an ugly campaign against same sex parents in Italy.

The European election news is dominated by Emmanuel Macron’s decision to dissolve the National Assembly in France. The new French parliament elections will be held over two rounds on 30th June and 7th July neatly bracketing the British general election on 4th July.

Europeans are looking at wonder at the return to stable politics in the UK with a strong majority single party government likely to be in place in three weeks’ time.

The Brexit era politics of Tory prime ministers being replaced like skittles is over and Sir Keir Starmer will emerge as heading the most stable government in Europe.

Contrary to the BBC’s excitement about the right taking over Europe the two hard right nationalist anti-imigrant groups called the European Conservatives and Reformists and the `Identity and Democracy’ Group to which Marine Le Pen belongs only won an extra 9 seats and still has fewer seats than the Party of European Socialists to which Labour is affiliated.

Overall the far right have 131 MEPs in the 720 member European Parliament. The Spanish socialists did well and Donald Tusk’s pro-EU ruling party in Poland beat their rightist rivals. Viktor Orbán’s vote went down and he faces possible defeat in 2026 national elections.

The exreme right remains divided. Marine Le Pen forced the expulsion of the German AfD party from the Identity and Democracy Group as the Germans just could not keep their neo-Nazi sympathies under control. 

This means the much heralded chances of Marine Le Pen and Italy’s Giorgia Meloni becoming king or rather queen-makers in the European Council and imposing their candidate as a new Commission presidents well as other top EU posts are thin.

The European far right are disunited. The northern European anti-Europeans like the Dutch Geert Wilders and Nordic or Baltic hard rightists want to stop all of their taxpayers’ money going to Brussels.

This is anathema to Le Pen, Meloni, VOX in Spain, Kaczynski in Poland, Fico in Slovakia or Orban in Hungary who all use generous Common Agricultural Policy funds to buy votes.

They are also divided on Putin with the east European and Baltic hard rightist hating Hungary’s Viktor Orbán who heads Putin’s Fifth Column in the EU.

British far rightists like Suella Braverman and Nigel Farage have spoken at Orbán organised events along with Putin supporters like France’s Eric Zemmour whose smaller rightist party preformed badly on Sunday and has now disintegrated after he expelled four out of his 5 MEPs.

Macron has thrown a spanner into the works of the far right. By calling a new parliamentary election three years ahead of the scheduled date of 2027 he is hoping to alert the French voters to the dangers they face if a far-right anti-European, anti-immigrant racist Le Pen government is formed.

Le Pen’s Dauphin, Jordan Bardella, is a good-looking Ganymede 28 years old. But he can barely string two words together. In the European Parliament televised debate he said nothing and no-one took any notice of him as a result.

His economic thinking is based on closing French frontiers and running up debt to spend on this client voters - rather like Liz Truss economics in Britain.

In any debate to win a majority in Parliament his policy-lite approach won’t work as the French expect their leaders to be serious explainers about the problems the nation faces.

Marine Le Pen, nearly 30 years his senior, wants to stay above the fray. But if Bardella performs well he may well replace Le Pen, now a grandmother, as the far-right’s main candidate in the 2027 president election. She won’t like that.

At a far right gathering in Brussels this week Le Pen took a cuddly selfie with Matteo Salvini, the pro-Putin, Muslim hating leader of the Lega Party in Italy. Giorgia Meloni hates Salvini who blocks her claim to be the sole leader of the far right in Italy.

Le Pen distrusts Meloni who supported pushing undocumented asylum seekers who landed in Italy into France. The idea there is a sole guiding set of politics for Europe’s ugly nationalist anti-EU right is silly.

We will see what happens in the French elections but nothing is certain except the election of a social democratic reformist government in Britain.

 

Denis MacShane

Denis MacShane

June 2024

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