If there is one big takeaway from the recent European Parliamentary elections it is that centrist parties which stand for nothing in particular represent a lot fewer people. From both the ‘left’ and the ‘right’ the center lost ground across Europe.
The Euroskeptics got a lot of press in the run up to these elections and the final result was pretty much in line with expectations, with a couple of exceptions. The pro-EU left lost a lot more ground in Sweden than expected but the Dutch People’s Party were rejected thoroughly in the Netherlands.
Otherwise the polls were mostly in line with the results. And while the early spin tried to put a brave face on results in the U.K. and France Marine Le Pen outpolling sitting president Emmanuel Macron just two years after he beat her in the presidential election is notable.
The results in the U.K. were a microcosm of the trends we’re seeing across Europe. The major parties, both campaigning from the center, lost the confidence of the people on both sides of the divisive Brexit argument.
Those that want Brexit in no uncertain terms bolted to Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party while those fed up with Labour’s indecision on not only Brexit but a host of other issues bolted for the Liberal Democrats and the Greens.
And a lot of those seats that would have went to the Social Democrats via Labour in the European Parliament now belong to Guy Verhofstadt and ALDE.
But the U.K. isn’t alone in this splitting along ideological lines. Germany has seen the collapse of the Social Democrats give spark to the Greens there as well. The Greens outpolled Angela Merkel’s Grand Coalition partners by more than five points, coming in 2nd behind the CDU/CSU with 20.5%.
And this is the takeaway. Governing from the center by trying to mask what the EU actually is versus what it was sold as isn’t working. Merkel had to ‘un-retire’ as leader of the CDU to stop the bleeding, thinking she’d weathered the worst of the storm posed by Euroskeptics like Alternative for Germany, who regressed from their 2017 election result with 11%.
The strong performance in countries that are pro-EU by parties that want more integration of Europe, as represented by the gains of ALDE and the Green alliances, was offset by a harder, more confrontational brand of Euroskepticism as represented by Brexit, Hungary’s Fidesz and Italy’s Lega.
Matteo Salvini’s Lega and Nigel Farage’s Brexit are now the best represented parties in the European Parliament. Both are on a collision course with EU leadership intent on squashing both of them.
The full results weren’t even reported officially, and European President Donald Tusk was out in the media calling “Brexit the vaccine for Euroskepticism.” This is him doubling down on the fear tactics of what will happen to anyone who dares think about trying to leave the EU.
The problem for Tusk, of course, is that the political establishment in the U.K. is fraying badly and will not be able to hold onto power through the end of the year.
With this disastrous result one would expect the Tories to dissolve government out of shame, similar to what Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras (not a guy with an ounce of shame, mind you) did after losing to New Democracy.
But that won’t happen. And it is obvious why. Brussels and Westminster are still scheming to scuttle Brexit and blunt the rise of Farage from riding a sovereigntist wave into 10 Downing Street later in the year.
Because Labour was so thoroughly rebuked after leader Jeremy Corbyn was suckered into backing a second referendum he doesn’t dare call for a No-Confidence Vote against the government as there’s little chance of him winning a General Election with anything other than an unworkable coalition.
There will be, however, a challenge to his leadership in the near future as the political class in London have been itching to get rid of Corbyn and put one of Tony Blair’s hand-picked globalists back in charge.
A drubbing like Labour just took should be all the impetus they need to pull the plug.
For now, we’ll have to sit through a ridiculous glamour party as the Tories try to figure out who wants to captain its Titanic with an iceberg dead ahead set for impact on Halloween.
But since these elections didn’t end up with an upside surprise for the Euroskeptic parties overall, the usual suspects in Brussels will wrongly take that as a vote of confidence to thwart any reforms to their European project.