It is impossible to overestimate the importance of this week’s European elections. They are likely to be “the most consequential parliamentary vote in EU’s history” (ECFR).
The far-right populists want to take over the EU from within. This would be a disaster for opponents, for minorities and for progressive forces everywhere. Chaotic Europe that would likely ensue would set off champagne corks in Moscow, Peking and Washington. Anti-European nationalists could cause a great deal of damage, and it is not beyond impossible that the very future of liberal democracy is at stake.
Although imperfect, EU is one of the bastion of freedoms and democracy, perhaps the most important one in the age of Brexit, Putin, ever more powerful China and Trump. We must protect the core values of democracy, tolerance and consensus.
These elections are essentially the battle of ideas, of two competing and opposite visions and the choice is stark. It is open Europe, reformed and improved or Europe of angry nationalism, directed at anyone half an inch different, in matters that enrage violent populists.
Populists have focused their efforts on refugees, knowing that immigration is an issue which most Europeans take seriously. This is simply scapegoating.
If extremist do well this week, they will have a say in how Europe is run. They will possibly decide the composition of the European Commission. This will in turn impact on EU’s commitment to issues of global importance and for which EU’s voice is crucial; for example, environment. At the very least, EU will punch below its weight more than now.
What is to be done, then?
All pro-Europe forces need to put aside their difference for the greater good. This is obvious. A pro-European political front must be forged, after the elections at least. We believe that the coalition of European socialists (PES) and liberals (ALDE plus President Macron’s outfit) would be a good start but they may fall well short of the necessary majority. Therefore, if necessary, all pro-Europe forces should form a super-coalition. Anything to prevent the extremist beast.
The good news is that there are signs of politicians finally starting to think about future. European leaders declared that will “defend one Europe, stay united, through thick and thin” and “always look for joint solutions”. They now need to communicate those to the European people, and quite urgently so. If voters suspect empty promises, they will vote even more populist next time round.
Populists may have inadvertently done a favour to progressives. They have demonstrated that organising across national borders is possible. Moreover, it is by now evident that national politics is insufficient in tackling issues such as environment, immigration, security and many others. Only transnational politics can deal with these problems. In other words, events have “emphasised Europe’s interdependence and with it the role of pan-European politics” (Economist). This is clearly the way forward and it is most welcome.
As Europeans, as non-nationalists we need to do what we can to keep Europe free. We can do so in many ways. One is what we are trying to do with our virtual political party – Idemo.
If you agree with what we are saying, share this article and like us on social networks. This is merely the beginning of our activities and it also depends on you how far we will go.
More importantly, we all need to unite against the dark forces of poisonous far-right populism. Unite and act. The first opportunity is at these European elections. Let us win them together!