Sunday

18th Aug 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. Trump turned down: Greenland not for sale
  2. UK Libdems would back Clarke or Harman as new PM
  3. Six countries agree to take 'Open Arms' ship migrants
  4. Gibraltar judge: Iranian ship should be released
  5. Increasing fears of a global recession
  6. Far-right hate crimes on the rise in Germany
  7. EU steel tariffs have 'worked well' so far
  8. Italian court: Migrant rescue ship can enter Italian waters

Facebook has to answer some tough questions about Libra

German MEP and member of the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee, Markus Ferber, warns of four separate threats from Facebook's Libra. A good moment to kick off the debate would be this week's G20 summit.

Six takeaways on digital disinformation at EU elections

For example, Germany's primetime TV news reported that 47 percent of political social media discussions were related to the extreme-right AfD party, when in fact this was the case only for Twitter - used by only four percent of Germans.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  5. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  7. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  8. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  9. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  10. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North

Latest News

  1. Selmayr did not keep formal records of lobby meetings
  2. EU asked to solve migrant rescue deadlock
  3. Internal EU paper: Second Brexit vote was no longer 'distant dream'
  4. EU has 'zero incentive' to break open 'trilogue' deals
  5. Denmark plans import ban on EU-approved pesticide
  6. US offers Johnson helping hand on Brexit
  7. Italy: New government without Salvini in the making
  8. Brexit row delays financial products transparency review

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us