European Elections: Worry, but Don't Panic, Says PN Member Joost Lagendijk

Joost Lagendijk
May 27, 2014

Writing for the Turkish daily Today's Zaman, PN member Joost Lagendijk is sharing his view on the outcome of the 2014 European elections. Although extreme-right parties came out top in France and in the UK, this will not be the end of the EU as we know, writes Joost Lagendijk. Contiue reading to find out why.

Looking at some of the headlines in the European press the day after the European Parliament elections, one could get the impression a populist revolt had just swept away all mainstream parties and the EU was on the threshold of revolutionary changes. On most front pages there were pictures of the two leading firebrands: Marie Le Pen, leader of the extreme-right Front National (FN) that came out on top in France and Nigel Farage who did even better in the UK with his anti-EU UK Independence Party (UKIP). Is this indeed the end of the EU as we know it? I don't think so.

Le Pen and Farage represent the forceful reaction in large parts of Northwestern Europe against highly unpopular austerity policies that have created unemployment, fear for the future and, above all, resentment against the EU. The interesting thing, however, is that in countries where that social and economic pain is felt much stronger -- like Greece and Italy -- the winners of the elections were parties on the left: the radical Syriza of Alexis Tsipras and the more moderate Democrats of Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi. They have very little in common with the right-wing victors up north apart from their resistance against one-sided economic recovery programs.

So it would be a big mistake to conclude that all over the EU angry citizens have opted for the same sweeping radical-right answers. They did not. In the Netherlands and Belgium, parties very similar to the FN lost votes because people preferred less extreme alternatives. In Germany, the only party fundamentally challenging Merkel's euro policy got 7 percent of the votes. Not really the kind of European-wide landslide presented by the media.


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Photo courtesy of coolcanadagoose.

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