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European Parliament Elections: Why was the swing to Right not obvious?

Featured European Parliament Elections: Why was the swing to Right not obvious?

The European (and Greek) economy is in the midst of significant long-term changes that concern society and find expression in politics, resulting in the creation of new dynamics in the social expression of political beliefs. These fuel political forces that are to the right of the center-right that has in recent years dominated European politics. One wonders, however, if this was not to be exoected.

The rise of the far Right, or in cases the extreme Right, has been the subject of a myriad articles throughout global media. Although not all the Right wing forces in the 27 member states are the same, the message is clear: The European political system is not what it used to be and the transformation is just beginning.

After the recovery from the European crisis (2012) and the pandemic that triggered the inflationary crisis of 2021 – 2022 came the Ukrainian crisis that created two additional problems: prolongation of inflation through the energy crisis (reduction of incomes) and national threat to Europe's eastern borders.

These crises resulted in an environment of long-term increased social insecurity which has bred three types of threats. A technological change displaces low and standardized skills and a flux in the labor dynamics weakens those with less skills and knowledge. The climate crisis which is upon us increases the fiscal burden and reduces the quality of life. Finally, external immigration creates fears for the protection of citizens’ wellbeing and the social fabric. Ultimately these threats create conditions of a cultural backlash

In France, Marine Lepen's National Rally, originally founded by her father, swept the polls and forced President Macron to call for snap national assembly elections, most likely as a relief valve, where he hopes that more systemic parties from Gaulist, Center, and Center Left parties may be able to cut the National Rally a few notches, blunting its power among the electorate. For now, such a change of mind in the electorate, so soon, is unlikely.

In Belgium, the liberal party of Prime Minister Alexander De Croo OpenVLD lost dramatically in Belgium's regional, national and EU elections on Sunday. The right-wing New Flemish Alliance (N-VA) emerged as the biggest winner of elections in Belgium on Sunday, with the extreme-right pro-separatist Vlaams Belang in second place. At the national level, the nationalist N-VA led by Bart De Wever received 18.6% of votes, up by more than 2% compared to 2020, while Vlaams Belang, at 15.4%, saw a 3.5% jump. This has led to a resignation of De Croo. It now seems that the geopolitical construct of Belgium, a state composed of two different peoples united only by the fiscally lucrative bastion of Brussels, as the hub of European buraucracy, may have had its run.

In Italy, as foreseen, Georgia Meloni's Party Brothers of Italy took the lead, disconcerting outside observers but not ruffling feathers among the system lynchpins. Perhaps because Meloni has “softened” her Right wing rhetorc after taking over the government.

In Gemany, the coalition government under SPD (social democrats) Olaf Scholz wbas basically crushed by center-right Christian Democrats winning 30.2 percent of the vote according. The extreme-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) also put in a strong showing, finishing second with 16 percent. The frail coalition that has fragmented over basically everything seems tattered, although national elections are not scheduled until 2025.

Countries that already had in place governments more to the right wing, like Hungary and Slovakia easily toed the right wing line, but even there more extreme voices have gained momentum.

In Greece, where New Democracy had set 33% as the bar for electoral success, managed, 28.1%, 5 points below its declared goal, but has no political competitor. The votes lost by New Democracy were not garnered by parties to its Left like former governing SYRIZA and its splinters, and Marxist-Leninist KKE did not pick up its losses. Instead parties to its Right, like Velopoulos' Hellenic Solution, Orthodoxy-aligned Nike, and even latecomer Afroditi Latinopoulou picked up its debris.

The message being sent may appear elusive, or those who know don't really want to blurt it out, but it’s obvious on the streets of Europe. Europeans are basically fed up with policies affecting their live and are rising against them, so far through democratic processes. For some, like Hungary bordering on Russia, it’s a chicken-game set up by the Americans to bleed the Russians, at the expense of European lives.

Conditions in Europe have also led to a financial degradation of the middle class by exacerbating internal income inequalities, while intergenerational differences are widening with the younger generations feeling that they will be poorer than their elders. Thus, it is very natural for an "engagement problem" to appear with political functioning and participation, which takes on more acute dimensions when political entities are enlarged and distant like the EU.

For others it’s the imposition of an agenda for inclusivity, diversity, acceptance and all sorts of agendas that they had never signed up for. Many see this “woke” agenda as being shoved down their throats by foreign US Democrat administrations, eroding traditional centuries-old European norms that placed a social order of Christianity, family values, and national/ethic ethics, bolstered by European Left, Counter-culture, and Green parties.

Even more look on the influx of immigrants, as the root of many of these evils. The large unchecked influx of immigrants is seen as linked to Islamist extremism, violent crime, misogynism, and anti-semitism and anti-Christian behavior, and perhaps the seed of the changing the continent’s basic characteristics.

These are the messages emanating from the polls and if the established parties can't address them they will have to face the consequences, with an even stronger popular, or populist, if one wishes to label it thus, backlash.

All in all, Europe is facing the repercussions of ill-thought, or according to some, pre-designed, policies that are disassociating the continent of its often fragmented cultural identity.