France’s Old Parties Suffer Another Blow in European Election

French parliament Paris
The sun sets on the Bourbon Palace, seat of the French National Assembly, in Paris, June 8, 2007 (J.R. Rosenberg)

France’s once-dominant center-left and center-right parties still haven’t recovered from their defeat two years ago at the hands of Emmanuel Macron.

The Socialists got only 6 percent support in European elections on Sunday, the same share as the far left. Former president Nicolas Sarkozy’s Republicans got 8.5 percent, down from 21 percent five years ago.

Most of the media attention has gone to the winners: Macron’s liberal-centrist alliance, Marine Le Pen’s National Rally and the Greens, who got almost 60 percent support combined. But the collapse of the old parties — and with it an era in French politics — is just as big a story. Read more “France’s Old Parties Suffer Another Blow in European Election”

Dutch Voters Punish Euroskeptics, Give Labor Victory

Netherlands flag
Flag of the Netherlands (Pixabay/Ben Kerckx)

Dutch voters punished Euroskeptic parties of the left and right on Thursday, according to unofficial election results and an exit poll.

The far-right Freedom Party, led by Geert Wilders, and the far-left Socialists would struggle to retain their seats in the European Parliament. The former currently has four, the latter two.

An exit poll conducted by Ipsos gives the two parties one seat each. But voting results from 732 of 9340 polling places suggest neither might qualify at all. The exit poll has a one-seat margin of error.

The official result is not announced until Sunday night, when all the EU’s 28 member states will have voted. But Dutch law requires individual polling places to read out their results on election night. Volunteers for the populist blog GeenStijl tallied the results, which were then analyzed by Ipsos’ competitor, Read more “Dutch Voters Punish Euroskeptics, Give Labor Victory”

European Elections Are About More Than the Far Right

European Parliament Strasbourg
Three young women listen to a debate in the European Parliament in Strasbourg, September 14, 2016 (European Parliament)

European elections kick off in the Netherlands and the United Kingdom on Thursday with most of the other 26 member states voting on Sunday.

The temptation is to force a single narrative on the elections. American and British media in particular are obsessed with the performance of the Euroskeptic right. But it is only part of the story.

The elections span a continent of 500 million people. Turnout in European elections is usually low, but those who do vote tend to do so on the basis of national, not European, issues. Hence the elections are less a referendum on the EU than a test for incumbent leaders and governments.

To pro-versus-anti-EU narrative also simplifies reality. Read more “European Elections Are About More Than the Far Right”

Brexit Delay Could Benefit Left in European Elections

Frans Timmermans Nicola Zingaretti Pedro Sánchez
Dutch, Italian and Spanish socialist party leaders Frans Timmermans, Nicola Zingaretti and Pedro Sánchez meet in Brussels, March 21 (PES)

The delay of Brexit could benefit the European left in elections in May.

A poll conducted by Hanbury Strategy for Open Europe found that the British Labour Party could win nearly 38 percent support and close to thirty seats in Strasbourg.

That would make theirs the largest delegation in the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D), surpassing the German Social Democrats, and close the gap with the center-right European People’s Party (EPP), which stands to gain nothing from Brexit. Theresa May’s Conservatives group with the mildly Euroskeptic European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) instead.

Britain will need to hold European elections if it is still in the EU next month. Read more “Brexit Delay Could Benefit Left in European Elections”

European Far Right Fails to Unite

Herbert Kickl Matteo Salvini
Herbert Kickl and Matteo Salvini, the interior ministers of Austria and Italy, meet in Brussels, July 12, 2018 (European Council)

Only three other parties turned up in Milan on Monday, where Italy’s Matteo Salvini had announced the launch of a broad Euroskeptic campaign for the European elections in May.

The attendants were the nationalist parties of Denmark and Finland as well as the Alternative for Germany.

Their counterparts from Austria, France, Hungary, Poland and the Netherlands did not show up. Read more “European Far Right Fails to Unite”

The Euroskeptic Contradiction

European Union flag
Flag of the European Union on Crete, Greece, January 28, 2015 (Theophilos Papadopoulos)

Euroskeptics complain that the European Union is not democratic enough. But more democracy in the EU would mean taking power away from the member states, which is not what they want either.

It’s a contradiction at the heart of the Euroskeptic argument that allows them to damn the EU if it does and damn the EU if it doesn’t. Read more “The Euroskeptic Contradiction”

Europe’s Primary Season

Manfred Weber Alexander Stubb
Leadership candidates Manfred Weber and Alexander Stubb on stage at a European People’s Party conference in Helsinki, Finland, November 7 (EPP)

I write about “Europe’s Primary Season” for the Atlantic Council’s New Atlanticist blog. Manfred Weber and Alexander Stubb are vying to become the leading candidate of the conservative European People’s Party (EPP) in next year’s European Parliament elections. The winner would be in a strong position to claim the presidency of the European Commission.

Weber, who has been endorsed by his country’s chancellor, Angela Merkel, is the favorite, but Stubb has mounted a spirited campaign. Read more “Europe’s Primary Season”

Macron, Salvini Represent Opposite Sides in Europe’s Culture War

Emmanuel Macron
French president Emmanuel Macron makes a speech in the European Parliament in Strasbourg, April 17 (European Parliament/Mathieu Cugnot)

Politico has a good story about how France’s Emmanuel Macron and Italy’s Matteo Salvini represent opposite sides in what I — per Andrew Sullivan — call .

Macron is a former investment banker who styles himself as a liberal champion of the European Union. Salvini, the leader of Italy’s far-right League party, has emerged as Europe’s leading nationalist — one who has pledged to bring the European project to a crashing halt.

Both are building transnational coalitions to contest the 2019 European Parliament elections. Read more “Macron, Salvini Represent Opposite Sides in Europe’s Culture War”