European elections: A chance to repel both nationalism and no-deal Brexit

(Credit: European Union)

The results of the coming European Parliament elections of 23-26 May will have an unusually strong and long term impact on the wider political developments of the entire Old continent. There are two good reasons for that. The Europeans, including the Brits, will vote to definitely or not repel nationalism and a devastating no-deal Brexit.

Let’s start with the scandal which hit last week the unrepentant Austrian nationalists and their extreme right-wing and racist Freedom Party (FPÖ). Its leader and until last weekend Vice Chancellor of Austria, Heinz-Christian Strache was caught in a video fraudulently offering government contracts to a Russian oligarch. This was in exchange of Moscow’s ‘help’ for FPÖ to shine in the 2017 legislative election. The film was released by two German media groups.

The Austrian connection

Strache and all Freedom Party ministers serving as junior partners in Chancellor Kurz’s People’s Party government resigned and the country now heads for an early legislative election in September. The issue made headlines all over Europe and is expected to undermine the electoral prospects of all nationalist political groups in this week’s European Parliament elections.

This affair is a strikingly eye-opener. The Austrian far-right nationalist party is exposed as being ready to ‘sell’ their country to foreign money, and more so a Russian oligarch. Undoubtedly, this casts a dark shadow on all extreme right ‘patriot’ parties. The likes of the German AfD, the French National Party of Marine Le Pen and the Italian Lega of Matteo Salvini must now apologize for their covert relations with Putin’s Russia. Even the Brexiteer chauvinist Nigel Farage is now under scrutiny by the European Parliament and British Electoral Commission for receiving illegal financing.

They are all the same

In the case of Marine Le Pen, it was established two years ago that she had received financial support from Moscow. As for Salvini, while there are no proven relations with the Kremlin, there are reports and repeated accusations of his party and him personally being supported by Vladimir Putin.

It’s not by chance then, that the Hungarian autocratic ruler, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has personally close friendly relations and contacts with the Russian ‘czar’. Coming to the German nationalist extreme right–wing AfD party, half of its leadership and many of its members have unresolved issues with the criminal justice.

Who do the Russians prefer?

Practically all the self portrayed as anti-systemic extreme right nationalist political groups in Europe – and reportedly the US President Donald Trump too – have been actively supported by Moscow. For one thing, it seems that the Russian ruler Putin considers as his allies all those who don’t value the democratic institutions and the rule of law as much they value money.

By the same token, Russia’s foreign policy is proven to secretly or openly finance many political groups and persons in the West and elsewhere. It is particularly those who constitute a significant risk for their own countries. Law and order as we know it in Western Europe was never the strongest point of Russia.

It’s the voters’ turn

It will be rather a surprise then, if the above mentioned European ‘politicians’ and political groups manage to gain a much stronger presence in the European Parliament, enough to threaten the EU institutions. If they do so, Europe is surely going to suffer rather sooner than later.

If this is the case in mainland Europe, the rather certainly looming victory of Nigel Farage in today’s election in Britain may mark the end of Europe as we know it for many decades; a peaceful, safe place giving the many a chance. Fortunately, however, there are strong arguments for a much better scenario. Let’s dig into the public opinion polls for today’s European election in Britain.

Look at the numbers

It’s discouraging seeing 33% of the Brits, responding that they are going to vote for Nigel Farage’s newly established Brexit Party. They have made him the largest party in the country leaving the Tories in the fourth or fifth place and the Labor Party with around 16%. A massive presence in the European Parliament of deputies which are hand-picked by Farage will cost the EU by a lot.

Thank God, though, a more thorough analysis proves that the pro and the anti Brexit parties are not neck and neck. The clearly anti-Brexit parties add up at 37.5% (Scottish National Party, Liberal Democrats, Greens, Change UK, and Plaid Cymru). The clearly pro Brexit groups are Farage’s latest creation and his former construction, the infamous UKIP. Together they add up on 36.1%. However, the Labour Party is at 16.1% and the Conservatives at 8.3%.

Horizontal division

Both those mainstream political parties are deeply divided between pro and anti Brexit. So, undoubtedly, a good part of their 16.6+8.3% must be added to the anti-Brexit side, strengthening thus the movement for a second referendum. This last option seems to be now seriously contemplated by the Prime Minister Theresa May. She promises a new plebiscite, if the MPs vote for her soft Brexit deal. Alas, Brexit still tortures Britain badly, but today’s vote may change a lot.

All in all, the European Parliament 2019 election results will have a strong and long lasting impact on the future of the entire continent and the whole world.

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