European Parliament Election Unlikely to Answer the Question of Europe

This year’s European elections are not difficult to predict. The Muslimphobe, national identity Right will gain some seats. The Social Democratic Left is not what it was, especially in France and Germany. The Liberals continue to fade.

The European Parliament is 45 this year.

In 1979 the first direct election of MEPs took place.  It has many distinguished current and former members – ex Prime Ministers, ex-party leaders, ex-Ministers, and has also been a platform for a good number of demagogues like Nigel Farage who was always rejected by British voters when he tried to enter the House of Commons and instead sent to Strasbourg-Brussels to practice his sound-bites denouncing any idea of European partnership and cooperation.

Manon Aubry, the French ultra-leftist MEP, is half Farage’s age and was educated in the United States and Australia so altogether on  a higher intellectual plane than the English Europhobe.

But she, like her boss, Jean-Luc Mélenchon – also a sharp, caustic sound-bite – shares with Farage or another MEP demagogue, the Dutch Geert Wilders, no interest in making Europe come together except on the impossible  terms of the hard Left or Right. As in the days when Communist parties were present in national politics this usually meant they never won power.

Influx of Right-leaning MEPs expected

This year’s European elections (6-9 June) are not difficult to predict.

The Muslimphobe, national identity Right will gain some seats. The Social Democratic Left is not what it was, especially in France and Germany. The Liberals continue to fade.

There is, though, one shining example of Social Democratic success and that is the new-look Labour Party under Sir Keir Starmer which has shaken off the influence of the demagogic Left with its contempt for Euroatlantic values and politics and its obsessive hatred of Israel bordering on the anti-Semitic.

In Britain, all the polls have been saying for more than a year that a major election victory for the post-Jeremy Corbyn Labour Party, under its cautious, careful, middle of the road lawyer leader, Sir Keir Starmer, is heading for a major victory.

The Brexit era Conservatives face a wipe out.

Boris Johnson, who campaigned against the EU since his earliest days in Brussels in the 1990s as a Daily Telegraph propagandist against Europe – he once wrote of a “Gestapo-controlled Nazi EU”- has turned the plebiscite victory of Europhobia of 2016 into ashes in the mouths and eyes of anti-Europeans, both in Britain and further afield.

Everyone now sees Brexit to have been very bad news for Britain, its businesses, its citizens, the unity of the United Kingdom – so sacred to the late Queen – its young people who cannot study or be musicians on the continents, its older citizens who cannot retire easily to warmer regions of Europe and the City which is seeing the London Stock Exchange decline into a minor provincial bourse as big firms do not to float or list in London which rejects open trade with all its richer neighbours.

Is the Euro poll treated seriously?

Labour dare not risk again igniting the fire and fury of Brexit so, for the time being, says as little as possible about Europe and the British political parties, the BBC, and the press refuse to take the European Parliament elections in June seriously.

The political paradox of Brexit is that it has destroyed the politicians of the nationalist, xenophobic right who so arduously promoted it. It has also led leaders like Marine Le Pen who, in 2016, decorated her social media outlets with the Union Flag  of the United Kingdom, to give up demands for Frexit or to restore the French franc in place of the Euro.

She and other anti-EU politicians like Giorgia Meloni, Viktor Orban, the AfD in Germany – even Geert Wilders – see that to propose Italexit, or Magayrexit, or NLexit would lose them votes in the ballot box.

A mosaic of different colours

So don’t expect any dramatic breakthroughs in this European Parliament election. There have been 16 different far-Right political groups in the Euro Parliament since direct elections were first held in 1979. Italy’s Lega party has belonged to four different groups at different times.

The far-right leaders like Giorgia Meloni and Matteo Salvini or Marine Le Pen and her niece, Marion Marechal Le Pen, all hate each other. The mosaic of European politics is composed of ever-more colours and pieces. Whatever is the composition of the European Parliament on 10 June this is for sure: the new MEPs will have no better idea of how to solve the problems of Europe than any of their predecessors.

Denis MacShane
Denis MacShane
Denis MacShane is the UK’s former Minister of Europe. He writes and comments on European politics.