The Lessons of Europeans to EU Supporters
Europe is not as its hardline pro-Europe supporters dreamt it. There is another Europe which has surfaced from these elections and which questions the entire structure which for years had been considered sturdy and permanent. And it is the European citizens themselves who have launched an unequivocal signal to those parties representing the pro-EU establishment. From Paris to Warsaw, from Athens to London, from Berlin to Rome. The hope now is that Brussels and the European capitals will learn from the lesson given to them by their voters. It is not a radical lesson; it is not a lesson brought on by the feared extreme right-wing wave that the media announced, nor the left-wing turn that many envisaged. It is a lesson imparted through the democratic system and the clear choices coming from the different European fronts which have brought to us a clear picture of the feelings sweeping through the Old Continent.
Every nation has given this European Union a lesson, every area of the continent has given a signal. And now it is the European Union’s top executives who must draw their conclusions. For months, the United Kingdom was considered a country that had made a mistake. The media depicted the British as a deluded people who had been drawn in by their Pied Piper, Nigel Farage. And yet, we received news of the contrary: the heart of Great Britain still wants Brexit and proved it by voting for the Brexit Party as well as by its support for the Conservative party, which although reduced, still points in a direction favouring the divorce between London and Brussels.
While London reminded the world it is in favour of Brexit, France imparted another lesson: the Country’s revolt against Emmanuel Macron was not a flash in the pan. And the Nation’s skin is actually changing; on the one hand it is granting increasing support to Marine le Pen, while on the other its abstention can also be read in an anti-Macron light. And there we were, thinking the country was in the hands of pro-Europe supporters and that Paris was the cradle of the EU locomotive. France confirms it is a Euro-skeptical Nation despite its President becoming the symbol of the great EU bureaucracy. And the image that we are left with is that of a government which has completely lost touch with its people.
Another lesson comes to us from the Visegrad Group. The eastern wind continues to blow on the European Union. And Viktor Orban, accused of being against Europe, of being isolated, of having no allies, actually proved (once again) to be a decisive leader for EU’s present and future. The percentage of votes obtained on Sunday by Fidesz confirmed it is one of the pillars of the European People’s Party and above all, it emphasized that a great proportion of Hungarians do not approve of Europe as devised by Brussels. As don’t the rest of the people of Eastern Europe who have clearly expressed they have no intention of bowing to Europe’s dictates, on cultural topics nor on the subject of immigrants. The lesson of the people of Visegrad is that that part of Europe will not give in to the pressure exerted by Brussels. It would seem neither in the short nor in the long term.
Yet another lesson was given by Italy. Yesterday’s vote, which cannot be denied resulted in a sweeping victory for the Lega party is, above all, a warning to the pro-Europe establishment. Those parties who deeply criticize the European Union make up over half of the Italian electorate. The country is obviously oriented towards the right, ranging from softer to more extreme positions; if we sum up the votes of Lega, Movimento Cinque Stelle and Fratelli d’Italia, the parties which more than the others have criticized the EU’s choices, the picture we are left with is one where the majority of the Country is strongly critical of Europe. And this is an important signal for everybody which should not be underestimated.
However, the Germans have also imparted their lesson. Germany, the very heart of the European Union, appears deeply tentative with regard to the EU bureaucracy. Germany is amongst those countries which have benefitted most from a united Europe and the Eurozone and Angela Merkel was certainly the Chancellor who more than any other tied the German agenda to that of the EU. And yet, the elections have seen CDU support fall drastically (22,6%) compared to five years ago when the Christian Democrats were at 30%. If we consider the Green party’s booming results and the fact that the AFD was able to maintain a consolidated 10%, what we are faced with is a completely changed Germany which, while still pro-Europe, comes starkly into with some of the EU’s current policies.
If to these lessons we add that of abstention in the Balkans, which confirms the dislike of south-eastern Europeans for the European Union, as well as that of Greece who abandoned Alexis Tsipras and has waged war against those who carried out the pro-Europe dictates, a clear picture emerges: the people of Europe have chosen to launch a very clear signal. Europe stands: but it is not that depicted by its unrelenting supporters. And it must try and change if it does not want to end up completely defeated.