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Populist Right Gains Ground in EU Elections

Populist Right Gains Ground in EU Elections

Jun 14, 2024

Populist Right Gains Ground in EU Elections

In a seismic political event that rippled across the European Union last week, the populist right made significant electoral gains, capturing roughly 30 additional seats in the European Parliament. This shift came at the expense of Europe's left, which saw a substantial loss of at least 42 seats, a decline felt by both the socialist Greens and the staunchly unreformed communists, whose presence persists in academia, museums, and legislative bodies.

With the European Parliament holding 720 seats, these changes are no minor adjustments. In the context of the United States, such a gain equates to approximately 15 House seats or four to five Senate seats—an undeniably considerable shift in the political landscape.

However, this shakeup is unlikely to herald immediate changes at the federal level. The Brussels behemoth, a grand coalition that some liken to a hypothetical alliance of Socialists and centrist conservatives in the vein of Mitt Romney, appears to remain unyielding in its grip on power. This coalition, often accused of monopolizing authority, ostensibly to exclude any factions advocating for increased national sovereignty, whether from the left or right, still commands a controlling majority with at least 400 seats.

Despite the loss of seats, the uniparty conglomerate, holding 55% of the parliament, maintains its dominance, a majority secured through a broad alliance of major parties against the so-called outsiders. Consequently, the next five years will likely see the continuance of policies on migration, climate change, and the conflict in Ukraine under the same leadership.

Nevertheless, the political landscape is far more volatile at the national level. In France, the right-wing populists delivered a resounding defeat to President Emmanuel Macron's party, securing 30 seats to a mere 13 for the incumbent government. This victory prompted Macron to dissolve the National Assembly and call for snap elections within three weeks, a move reflecting the precariousness of his 30% approval rating in recent polls.

Germany, too, experienced a political upheaval as the right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) party outperformed the ruling party, defying a decade of establishment criticism. Notably, AfD's popularity has surged among German youth, now translating into tangible gains in the European Parliament.

Similar shifts occurred in the Netherlands, Austria, Italy, Spain, and Belgium, where the left-wing prime minister resigned following electoral setbacks.

While the EU's federal structure remains under the established uniparty's control, the surge of right-populist parties at the national level suggests a potential for significant political change in the coming years. The results in France and Germany, in particular, indicate a growing disenchantment with the status quo and a yearning for alternatives that could reshape the EU's future.


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