Sunday

17th Feb 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

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

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.

Could Finnish presidency fix labour-chain abuse?

There can be no more excuses for business. They will be held for responsible for their failure to take action to prevent the risk of human and labour rights through their supply chains.

News in Brief

  1. Spain's Sanchez calls snap election on 28 April
  2. 15,000 Belgian school kids march against climate change
  3. May suffers fresh Brexit defeat in parliament
  4. Warning for British banks over Brexit staff relocation
  5. Former Italian PM wants Merkel for top EU post
  6. Antisemitic incidents up 10% in Germany
  7. Italy's asylum rejection rate at record high
  8. Hungary will not claim EU funds for fraudulent project

What does Poland want from the EU?

We propose several changes to the EU, derived from the political philosophy behind the current Polish government, and what Poles expect from the EU - this could be seen as a manifesto Poland wants the next European Commission to tackle.

Migration and May elections - time to get facts right

If misinformation in the field of migration can bring a government down, as in the recent case of Belgium following the country's adoption of the UN migration pact, then it can doubtless produce a populist majority in the European parliament.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  2. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  3. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law
  4. UNESDASoft Drinks Europe welcomes Tim Brett as its new president
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers take the lead in combatting climate change
  6. Counter BalanceEuropean Parliament takes incoherent steps on climate in future EU investments
  7. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”

Latest News

  1. Sluggish procedure against Hungary back on table
  2. Could Finnish presidency fix labour-chain abuse?
  3. Brexit and trip to Egypt for Arab League This WEEK
  4. Belgian spy scandal puts EU and Nato at risk
  5. EU Parliament demands Saudi lobby transparency
  6. Saudi Arabia, but not Russia, on EU 'dirty money' list
  7. EU agrees draft copyright reform, riling tech giants
  8. Rutte warns EU to embrace 'Realpolitik' foreign policy

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us