Pro-EU think-tank: “Underestimating the importance of this election could have a very high cost for liberal internationalists across the EU.”
The anti-EU parties are poised to win one-third of the seats in the EU Parliament election in May, according to a study titled “The 2019 European Election: How anti-Europeans plan to wreck Europe and what can be done to stop it,” released by a pro-EU think-tank.
By securing the controlling share of the seats, the anti-establishment rightist parties could “paralyze decision-making at the center of the EU” and end up “curbing the [bloc’s] liberal orientation and returning power to member states,” the London-based European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) said.
“Underestimating the importance of this election could have a very high cost for liberal internationalists across the EU,” the think-tank warned. If the anti-EU parties manage to cross the one-third threshold, the “EU would be living on borrowed time,” the report added.
Outlining a winning strategy for the pro-EU parties, the ECFR urged them to “position themselves as the guardians of the green agenda, and emphasize the risk that the EU will no longer be able to provide multilateral leadership in setting environmental regulations.”
Here are some of the key takeaways from the 48-page report:
The vote could see a group of nationalist anti-European political parties that advocate a return to a “Europe of the nations” win a controlling share of seats in the EP. (…)
Winning more than 33 percent of seats would enable them to form a minority that could block some of the EU’s procedures and make the adoption of new legislation much more cumbersome – with a potentially damaging impact on the content of the EU’s foreign policy, as well as on the EU’s overall institutional readiness and its political credibility to take initiatives in the area. (…)
The result of the May 2019 election will be instrumental to the composition of the next European Commission (the EU’s main executive body), including the president and the high representative for foreign affairs and security policy. (…) Although it is up to member states to propose commissioners designate, the presence of anti-Europeans in several national governments poses a serious risk that the next European Commission will become less internationalist and principled on the main global issues Europe faces, such as free trade, human rights, the rule of law, and multilateralism. (…)
The key battles in May 2019 will take place in Germany, France, Italy, Poland, and Spain, which collectively account for more than 50 percent of EP seats. Nonetheless, preserving a pro-European majority in the EU in the medium and long term will require hampering the rise of nationalists elsewhere, from Sweden and the Netherlands to Estonia and Croatia.
Describing the methodology of the report, the ECFR said: “Our network of associate researchers in EU capitals interviewed political parties, policymakers, and policy experts, while analyzing opinion polls, patterns in voter segmentation, and party manifestos.”
“Europe’s right and far right could even formally establish a new political group, which would be the second-largest political family in the EP,” the study predicted. The projections showing anti-EU parties crossing the one-third threshold, and their emergence as a major political factor in Brussels are in line with the Legal Insurrection‘s reporting on the European elections so far. I wrote last month that if the anti-EU parties “manage to set aside their political differences and turf wars before the EU election, they could upend the power balance in Brussels.”
Not surprisingly, the ECFR report suggests a divide-and-rule policy to weaken the anti-EU alliance, urging the mainstream parties to stop the right-wing surge “by driving a wedge between anti-European parties.” A prime example of this ploy is Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s Fidesz party. Despite its clear ideological affinity to the right-wing parties of Europe, Fidesz remains a member of the European People’s Party, a pro-Brussels alliance dominated by German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic party (CDU).
While the mainstream parties may hope to poach one or more party away from the anti-EU alliance, the right-wing parties, perhaps for the first time, are reaching out to voters beyond their traditional base. In France, Marie Le Pen is capitalizing on the largely left-leaning Yellow Vest protesters. Italy’s nationalist League Party has managed to form a stable government with the help of the left-wing Five Star Movement.
The study once again confirms the surge in popularity for the anti-EU parties ahead of the May election. The successes scored by Germany’s AfD party, Austria’s Freedom Party (FPÖ), and Italy’s League in their respective national elections has shown popular support shifting in favor of anti-EU parties.
However, the anti-EU parties cannot afford to get complacent in the run up to the election. The mainstream media and the powerful EU machinery will predictably launch an all-out smear campaign to discredit the dissenting parties and politicians.
[Cover image via YouTube]
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