Friday

18th Oct 2019

Opinion

EU elections 2019: the case for an alliance against far-right

  • Germany's far-right AfD (Alternative for Germany) party has gone from nowhere to being the third-largest party in the Bundestag in just five years - on a platform of anti-immigration (Photo: AfD)

In many member states far-right parties are strengthening their grip on public discourse and the political agenda.

The surge of hate speech has been gone mainstream in national politics in Italy, France and Germany, the three biggest member-states in EU and eurozone - but also in other member states with ultra-conservative governments, like Poland, Hungary and Austria.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

It has turned the refugee issue into the core element of the European political debate.

The surge of the far-right is extremely dangerous for the European establishment and our societies - especially when the EU decision-making bodies, such as the EU Council and the European Commission, cannot efficiently address the much-needed institutional reforms.

Hate speech comes to fill in the gap of a problematic public sphere in Europe, where democratic forces have a hard time building a wide, progressive front against the narrative of nationalist decline.

Nonetheless, there are some coordinated efforts to create a pro-European political front that can cope with far-right forces ahead of the EU elections in May 2019.

The debate between the left-wing, socialist and green forces has been enriched with specific proposals that can tackle some of the major issues in EU level, such as social justice, tax transparency and the need for a sustainable growth model.

A number of leaders have endorsed the efforts for a wider progressive front, such as prime ministers Alexis Tsipras (Greece), Antonio Costa (Portugal) or Pedro Sanchez (Spain), while leading figures in the European Parliament, like Udo Bullmann, Gabrielle Zimmer or Ska Keller keep pushing for the necessary reforms that can essentially reinvigorate the European project and its founding principles.

In this context, communications channels with the democratic centre and the liberals should also be fostered so that this alliance can be broader and more dynamic.

These progressive political forces can build their alliance against the decline of social rights and the increase of inequalities caused by neoliberal policies, and, further, around some fundamental elements that could otherwise divide them:

-the need to balance between security and the protection of human rights

- the need to deal with structural deficiencies of eurozone's architecture without dismantling the EU treaties

- the need to introduce a new labour model that can incorporate environmental concerns, an ever-growing global population and pressing job demand.

The EU elections offer the ground for the proper elaboration of all these proposals. The far-right is not an alternative to the ongoing challenges we are facing, but a huge step backwards in the EU integration process.

Dimitris Papadimoulis is a vice-president of the European Parliament, and head of Greece's Syriza delegation

Disclaimer

The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author's, not those of EUobserver.

Analysis

Greece exits bailouts, but difficult path ahead

"Greece's recovery is not an event, it is a process," EU commissioner Pierre Moscovici says. Statistics, and differences of views between the country's creditors, show that the process will not be easy.

Feature

'Macron vs Orban' is no quick fix for EU democracy

A Macron versus Orbans styled election battle might lift turnout in next year's European Parliament elections, but under laying democratic problems would remain, warn experts.

Interview

Populists 'could be the opposition parliament needs'

Dutch historian and writer Luuk van Middelaar argues populists could be the new opposition in the next European Parliament and a better reflection of EU public opinion - thus actually reinforcing the body's status.

Interview

Cohn-Bendit: still fighting for Europe

"The EU will have one less problem when the British aren't in because they always had mixed feelings", says the Franco-German political veteran.

News in Brief

  1. Macron: Nato's inability to react to Turkey a 'mistake'
  2. EU: US can expect counter measures after tariff move
  3. Almost 7,500 people forcibly returned to Libya in 2019
  4. Puigdemont released after responding to arrest warrant
  5. Commission: Facebook's Libra needs international approach
  6. Italian PM: denial of accession talks a 'historic mistake'
  7. Catalan president blames clashes on 'infiltrators'
  8. US imposes €6.7bn new tariffs on European products

Defending the defenders: ombudsmen need support

Ombudsmen are often coming under attack or facing different kinds of challenges. These can include threats, legal action, reprisals, budget cuts or a limitation of their mandate.

Column

The benefits of being unpopular

Paradoxically, the lack of popularity may be part of the strength of the European project. Citizens may not be super-enthusiastic about the EU, but when emotions run too high in politics, hotheads may take over.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture
  2. UNESDAUNESDA appoints Nicholas Hodac as Director General
  3. UNESDASoft drinks industry co-signs Circular Plastics Alliance Declaration
  4. FEANIEngineers Europe Advisory Group: Building the engineers of the future
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  6. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  10. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  12. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us