June 13, 2024

Brighton Journal

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With voting in Europe, a populist wave is rising – POLITICO

With voting in Europe, a populist wave is rising – POLITICO
The European Union elections are the second largest elections in the world this year, after the Indian elections. | Ramon van Vlemen/ANP/AFP via Getty Images

For a continent that prides itself on having buried the ghosts of Hitler, Mussolini and Franco, the return of the right as political forces comes as a shock. A Politico poll of opinion polls shows that far-right groups are significantly increasing their share of the European Parliament’s 720 seats to as many as 184, with voters across the bloc shifting to the right.

While Europe’s right-wing parties are unlikely to unite as a single bloc, increasing support for them – and normalizing them as political forces – will increase pressure on European leaders to crack down on migration into the bloc, ease plans to decarbonise the economy and encourage immigration. European Union support for Ukraine may decline.

This rise comes just five months before the US presidential elections, and the rise of the right is seen as paving the way for a potential shift in transatlantic relations. If Trump is re-elected in November, he may seek to cooperate with pro-Russian European politicians such as Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban to seek a peace deal in Ukraine on terms unfavorable to Kiev.

But while the far right will undoubtedly influence European policy choices, including confronting strategic rivals such as Russia and China, Le Pen and her ilk are still not powerful enough to make decisions in the EU. None of these parties are seeking to leave the bloc, as the United Kingdom did in 2016 with its historic Brexit vote.

According to polls conducted by Politico, the main pro-EU parties are on track to maintain their majority in the European Parliament. These are the same parties that have supported European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen’s liberal agenda over the past five years, voting for the “Green Deal” climate change package, aid to Ukraine and reform of immigration rules. In all likelihood, they will ensure the continuity of these policies.

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What is likely to change are the EU’s priorities, as the next five years are expected to be less focused on environmental policies and more focused on economic competitiveness amid growing competition with China and the United States, with an emphasis on strict border controls.