Sunday

16th Dec 2018

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.

News in Brief

  1. EU leaders endorse creation of eurozone budget
  2. Selmayr has no comment on MEPs' call to resign
  3. May had 'robust' discussion with Juncker
  4. UK to continue talks on EU 'assurances'
  5. EU invests €20m in AI software for self-driving cars
  6. Belgian PM 'not optimistic', urges 'no deal' Brexit preparedness
  7. Romanian president expects no Brexit summit in January
  8. Swedish MPs reject Lofven to lead new government

Brexit, migration, cities - and the UN pact

It's not surprising that a handful of nationalist European governments – Hungary, Austria, the Czech Republic, Poland and Italy – have followed Trump's lead in rejecting the UN's migration pact, to be formally adopted in Marrakech next week.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General

Latest News

  1. No more Brexit talks, despite May's pleas
  2. EU leaders stuck on asylum reform
  3. Orban and other PMs spread fake news, says Juncker
  4. Fishing quota and no-deal Brexit preparation This WEEK
  5. Kosovo has right to own army, Germany and US say
  6. EU needs election-meddling stress tests
  7. Russian and US obstruction was 'insult' to climate scientists
  8. EU-27 unimpressed by May, offer little on Brexit

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us