A Hard Right Conundrum in the European Parliamentary Election

A Hard Right Conundrum in the European Parliamentary Election

A major shift in the political landscape of the European Union (EU) coincided with the June 6–9, 2024, European Parliament elections. There has been a noticeable rightward movement in many of the member states, which raises concerns about the future course of EU governance and policy. The growth of far-right and populist groups has upset traditional political dynamics, ushering in a period of uncertainty and discussion as millions of Europeans vote in one of the biggest democratic exercises in history. With the results still being examined, it is becoming more and more clear what this hard right tilt means for international relations, social policy, and European unity.

The European Parliament, which is the EU’s legislative, is primarily comprised of delegates chosen by the national legislatures of the member states. With 720 seats, the European Parliament is the only directly elected legislature inside the EU and represents the citizens of its member states. The European Parliament is in charge of negotiating EU legislation with member state governments and approving the EU budget as well as international agreements. The members of this parliament are elected every five years, and these members also choose the parliament’s president, who serves a two-and-a-half-year term.

In Europe’s North, South, East, and West, far-right organizations of all hues have been on the rise recently. They are divided into three groups: conservative parties with neo-fascist origins; populist or populist nationalists; and nostalgic or nostalgic nationalists. Following Europe’s devastating wars against Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy in the 20th century, the majority of voters in this country thought that the extreme right would never be allowed to win elections again. Political parties on the mainstream side declined to work with far-right parties. Interestingly, those outdated “taboos” are gradually fading.

In the most recent elections, the right-wing parties have been immensely successful. The hardliners have total influence over the left, liberals, and moderates. Specifically, the outcomes of the elections in France, Germany, and Austria are perceived as a significant surprise that was never anticipated. Following the election, moderate and liberal French showed their disapproval of the right-wing win and staged protests in the center of Paris. According to election results, the right-wing National Rally, led by Macron’s opponent Marie Le Pen, received 33 percent of the vote in France, more than twice as many as Macron’s Renesas party and the greatest support in four decades. With 190 seats won by the European People’s Party, 136 by the Alliance of Socialists and Democrats of Europe (S&D), 39 by the Left Party, 80 by Renew Europe, and 52 by the Green Party, the other ruling parties received a total of 223 seats. President Emmanuel Macron promptly declared the dissolution of parliament and demanded fresh elections as a result. In addition, amid tumultuous political circumstances throughout Europe, Belgian Prime Minister Alexandre de Crewe declared resignation following his defeat in the election. Merely 5.9% of the vote went to his party.

Similar events took place in Austria and Germany. This election has dealt a serious blow to leaders such as Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehmer and German Chancellor Olaf Schultz. In the election, Schultz’s Social Democratic Party fared the poorest. Despite being implicated in numerous controversies, the far-right Alternative for Germany received 16 percent of the vote and finished second in the election. In Austria, the conservative People’s Party was in power with almost 24% of the vote, while the far-right Freedom Party received roughly 26%. Other than the Brothers of Italy party, led by Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Melani, they performed well.

As one of the biggest surprises of the election, Hungary’s ruling Fidesz party, led by Prime Minister Viktor Orban, stood out amid a growing trend toward the far right. Fidesz received 44 percent of the vote, his worst-ever performance in an election for the European Parliament, while the newly established Tisza party received 30 percent of the vote in Hungary.

Experts anticipate that candidates from right-wing and nationalist political parties winning European Parliament elections could alter politics throughout Europe and increase uncertainty going forward. Worldwide, the European Parliament is referred to as the reflection of European nationalism. The passage of new laws addressing security issues, climate change impacts, or industrial competition with China and the US may be hampered by a strong right-wing stance within the parliament. The objective and goal behind the formation of the EU was to expand trade and collaboration among member states to establish a common market throughout Europe. There might be a split there due to the emergence of the right-wing. In light of the atrocities of World War II, European unity is still viewed as a peace goal. The EU became known as the European entity throughout time. People in Europe were not first impressed by its significance, but as time went on, the advantages of its shared market sparked excitement among the citizens of the participating nations.

The combined efforts of European politicians made the EU a stable organization in the globe for a long time, but this election provided evidence of the recent rightward trend in many European nations’ politics. However, many think that the outcome would jeopardize geopolitics. For instance, the nearly two-year-old Russia-Ukraine war has created a fresh dilemma for the EU. Furthermore, this alliance will need to determine how and to what degree it can continue to support Ukraine in the coming years. Furthermore, if Russian President Vladimir Putin keeps up his assault against the West outside of Ukraine, there may be a problem regarding what course of action he will eventually take. In addition, questions about how to lessen reliance on the US and how the UK will handle its relations with China abroad have also emerged.

Regarding Israel’s invasion of Gaza, Palestine, which has been ongoing for around eight months, there are divergent views within the EU. A historical analysis reveals that right-wingers in Europe oppose immigration, refugees, racist and anti-Islamic ideologies, and European unification. Even though they are unable to offer a viable plan for the social and economic development of the nation, Slogan has been attempting to win over voters with extreme politics, and they are continuing in that vein in this election.

The sharp ascent of the hard right in European parliaments has already been attributed to Putin, according to some charges. This also concerned the leaders of Germany and France in particular. The two nations accused Russia of attempting to sway votes in Europe ahead of the election. Russia, though, remained silent about it. However, experts claim that from the beginning, the Kremlin has opposed NATO and the West’s involvement in the conflict in Ukraine. Vladimir Putin, the leader of Russia, has been whining that this war has been decided by Kyiv’s NATO partnership. Ever since Russian think tanks have attempted to sow doubt in the political landscape of Europe. Russia targeted the elections for the European Parliament as part of that. If the European Parliament, which sets policy, becomes more pro-hard rights, it will negatively impact Europe’s NATO partnership.

People demand protection from the government because they are tired of and enraged about immigration, unemployment, and inflation. People have shifted to the right wing and left parties have lost contact with these voters. People may shift back to the left if they become discouraged at this point. In a democracy, support from the populace will inevitably swing back and forth like a pendulum. But the concerning matter is – whether those who are coming to power can run the country!

With the far-right gaining ground, the political landscape is more divided and polarized than it has ever been. This development raises serious concerns about the EU’s capacity to deal with pressing global issues including economic rivalry, climate change, migration, and security. Stability and EU unity are in difficulty as Europe navigates these choppy waters. Will this sharp rightward shift herald a new age in politics, or will it create more rifts and make sustaining the European idea more difficult? The complete effect of this historic election will become clear over time.

[Photo by Thijs ter Haar, via Wikimedia Commons]

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author.

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