The World Today for June 06, 2024

NEED TO KNOW

Rightward Ho

EUROPEAN UNION

Expect right-wing parties to win big when 400 million voters in 27 countries elect new members of the European Parliament from June 6 through June 9, the Guardian said.

After a tough five years since the last election thanks to Brexit, the pandemic, the war in Ukraine, an energy crisis, and inflation – voters want change.

Traditionally, the centrist-conservative European People’s Party and the centrist-liberal Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats vie for control of the European Union’s legislature. The former is still expected to win a majority. The latter group’s fortunes are likely to fall, however, reported Euronews, while a coalition of far-right, populist, anti-immigration, Euroskeptic parties collectively called Identity and Democracy is forecast to win a big chunk of seats.

Identity and Democracy want to crack down on crime, reverse policies designed to fight climate change, staunch the flood of African, Asian, and Middle Eastern migrants who have sought asylum and economic opportunities in Europe, and uphold the continent’s traditional Christian identity and values, according to Politico.

Surprisingly, young voters are helping to drive the trend, though they might not share the concerns of older voters who will cast the same ballots. “They’re not necessarily xenophobic but they are deeply angered by the costs of living, housing, and healthcare crises which traditional parties haven’t been able to solve,” wrote Toronto Star columnist Rosie DiManno.

Concern over those mounting problems has especially undermined support for leftist Green parties, added World Politics Review, explaining that people don’t care about carbon emissions when they can’t afford rent.

While its members enact laws and adopt the EU’s budget, the European Parliament is not particularly powerful compared with, say, the US Congress or the British Parliament. One of its main jobs however is electing the president of the European Commission, the bloc’s executive body. Current Commission President Ursula von der Leyen – a former German defense minister whom critics, like those at the British Spectator magazine, have described as incompetent – is especially under pressure as the electoral landscape shifts.

Von der Leyen has been courting rightwing Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, for example, to support a second term in the presidency. As the Financial Times noted, however, other centrist leaders like French President Emmanual Macron have threatened to pull their support for Von der Leyen if she allies herself with the right.

Identity and Democracy is not a monolithic bloc, either. Composed of national political parties from across Europe, some of the coalition’s members support Ukraine, for example, while others advocate for pro-Kremlin policies.

As a result, as the Economist predicts, the European Union is likely to end up in gridlock after this election.

“Those assuming things can only get better may be in for a reckoning,” the magazine wrote, and “the probable outcome of the election will be a period of political rudderlessness … If these were quiet times, having Europe indulge in a bout of political navel-gazing would be no grave matter. But these times are not quiet.”

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