European Parliament polls show right-wing ascendance - GulfToday

European Parliament polls show right-wing ascendance

A group of people stands under an election banner outside the European Parliament in Brussels. File/AP

Picture used for illustrative purposes only.

The European Parliament elections, which have been held over the weekend ending on Sunday, point towards a majority for the right-wing parties from the 27 European Union (EU) members, which has a population of 450 million.

This means that Freedom Party from Austria, the centre-right European People’s Party (PPP) is expected to gain five seats, according to pollsters, while the numbers of European Greens and the liberal Renew Europe are to set to lose. Similarly, France’s far-right Marine Le Pen’s Rassemblement, Holland’s Geert Wilders’ Freedom Party, Spanish right-wing party Vox, Belgium’s far-right Flemish separatist party Vlaams Belang are set to gain strength in the parliament. This would mean a change in the nature of the European Commission, whose president Ursula von der Leyen’s position could be in danger though she has the support of Italy’s right-wing president Giorgia Meloni’s Brothers of Italy.

What is likely to happen with the resurgence of the far-right in these elections is that the Greens ans Social Democrats will be pushed back considerably, and the EU’s green agenda would be hampered. Industrialists and farmers across Europe are quite sour with the climate change restrictions to curb greenhouse gas emissions. The EU has been in the forefront of pushing the climate change agenda even as the United States and many other countries in Asia like China have been quite reluctant. If the pressure ceases from the EU front, then the climate change action would be placed on the back-burner at least for a short while. It will be left to smaller countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America to press forward with the green agenda.

The other major issue that binds the European right is the curbs on migration, which will increase pressure on people from the troubled spots like Libya, Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan who have been adopting hazardous means to reach Europe. The moderate liberal governments like that of the Social Democrats in Germany are under pressure to place limits on migration. And there has been opposition to migrants in countries like Italy and the Netherlands, which gave victory to anti-immigration right-wing parties.

Though all the EU member-countries participate in the European Parliament elections, and the parliament passes legislation which remains a valid law in all the 25 countries, there is still more than a bit of confusion as to who really calls the shots in the EU — the European Parliament, the legislature, or the European Commission the executive. A French voter, Emmanuel in north Paris said, “People don’t know who really has the power, between the Commission and Parliament. And it’s true it raises questions and breeds mistrust which today might not exist if things were clearer.”

It is also the case that many of the EU members, especially those from the former east European bloc like Hungary, and those like the Netherlands in the heart of Western Europe, are not too happy with the overbearing authority of the EU institutions located in Brussels. The Netherlands under the right-wing anti-immigration party of Geert Wilders is considering the option exercised by Britain, leaving the EU.

But even Britain is reconsidering whether leaving EU was a good idea because there were too many economic advantages despite the EU’s Brussels bureaucracy. Many of the grumbling members of the EU would not want to break away from the EU. But for the EU to work well and successfully would need a liberal mindset. The right-wing parties with their emphasis on nationalism would not be able to make the EU work. And immigration is a key issue. The EU provides for free movement of people across member-states, and it includes migrants from outside the EU geography.

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