11th Aug 2022

Juncker warns mainstream parties against imitating populism

  • Juncker campaigning in the Netherlands in April 2014. (Photo: Peter Teffer)

Mainstream political parties in Europe should not try to imitate eurosceptics, but defend European integration, the EU's Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker has said.

Juncker explicitly names the two political parties that are in the Dutch coalition, centre-right Liberal and centre-left Labour, and the centre-right Christian-Democrats, who are a member of Juncker's political family, the conservative EPP.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

“Attacked and goaded by citizens and media, they give more room to the discontent [among citizens]. And do you know what the result is? That countries become ungovernable”, Juncker told Dutch newspaper de Volkskrant on Saturday (27 December).

“My advice to parties like CDA [Christian-Democrat] and PvdA [Labour] is: Don't imitate the populists! If you want to engage with angry citizens, you have to stand in front of them. Not walk away or run after them.”

Juncker, who was prime minister of Luxembourg from 1995 to 2013, also blames the three Dutch mainstream parties for the Dutch 'No' in a referendum on the European treaty in 2005.

He said they did not defend the treaty enough “out of fear of being associated with the EU”.

Junckers' words come as the Netherlands' main anti-EU party, Geert Wilders' Freedom Party, is near or topping recent polls.

In 2015, Wilders is to go on trial on charges of incitement to hatred after he got a crowd to shout "fewer Moroccans" at an election rally in early 2014.

His opponents fear he will play the victim to increase sympathy from voters.

Anti-EU parties are also set to remain a major part of the political scene in several countries in the coming year.

The UK is due to hold elections in May with most of the focus likely to be on how well the eurosceptic Ukip party can do.

In 2014, it won the EU elections in the UK and made its breakthrough into Westminster by winning two parliamentary seats in autumn.

In France, Marine Le Pen's far-right National Front party won a quarter of the votes in the EU elections, beating the main centre-right and centre-left parties.

A recent survey showed that if the vote was held today she would win the first round of France's presidential elections, due in 2017.

Meanwhile in Germany, the eurosceptic AfD, founded in 2013, had its first electoral success in the EU elections in May and then subsequently won seats in local assemblies in three German states.

Dutch euroscepticism moves mainstream

Dutch voters critical of the European Union will have an array of parties to choose from when they go to the polls in next month's EU elections.

French far right at 'gates of power'

French PM Valls has warned the far right is “at the gates of power”, as the ruling left struggles under its unpopular president, Hollande.


Russia puts EU in nuclear-energy paradox

There's unprecedented international anxiety about the safety of Ukraine's nuclear reactors, but many European countries are also turning to nuclear power to secure energy supplies.

Almost two-thirds of Europe in danger of drought

Data released by the European Drought Observatory show 60 percent of Europe and the United Kingdom is currently in a state of drought, with farming, homes and industry being affected. Drought conditions have also led to an increase in wildfires.

EU hopeful of Iran nuclear deal

A possible deal to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear pact is within reach, says the European Union. Washington backs the final proposals, but Tehran remains cautious.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Canadian ministers join forces to combat harmful content online
  3. European Centre for Press and Media FreedomEuropean Anti-SLAPP Conference 2022
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers write to EU about new food labelling
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersEmerging journalists from the Nordics and Canada report the facts of the climate crisis
  6. Council of the EUEU: new rules on corporate sustainability reporting

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us