AA Edit | EU centrists hold far-right at bay

The Asian Age.

Opinion, Edit

The recent EU elections highlight the growing influence of the right and concerns over migration and globalization.

Activists and demonstrators take part in an 'antifascist rally' following the European election results, in Toulouse on June 10, 2024. President Emmanuel Macron said June 10, 2024 that he was confident French voters would make the "right choice" in snap elections he called after the far right crushed his centrist alliance in Sunday's EU ballot. His surprise move came after mainstream centrist parties kept an overall majority in the European Parliament in Sunday's elections, but the far right notched up a string of high-profile victories in Italy, Austria and France. (Photo by Ed JONES / AFP)

It is a small mercy that the parties at the centre of European Union politics held off the threat of a radical right-wing surge. What looms ahead may, however, be starker as 350 million voters in 27 EU member states fired off a warning about where public sentiment, driven mostly by the young in millennials and first-time voters, is heading.

The right did well enough in France and to an extent in Germany and Italy while many hard-line nationalist parties in other countries managed to attract attention, if not a majority of the votes or seats in the European parliament, which just about went to the Centre-right.

The Centre-right parties finished on top in Greece, Poland, Spain, and in Germany too, but the focus was, of course, on the French President Emmanuel Macron who immediately called for snap elections to parliament in the fond hope of being in control of the far-right problem rather than see it grow and sandbag him later in the last three years of his reign.

A live possibility in the French parliamentary polls, to be held on June 30 and July 7 close to the prestigious Olympic Games in Paris that begin July 26, is of a victory for Ms Marine le Pen’s and her popular protégé Jordan Bardella’s hard-right National Rally. The party appears to be in pole position judging by the results of the European elections in which its share of votes was twice that of Macron’s Renaissance Party.

While the Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni saw her party perform well enough for her to feel in total control as Italy plays host to the G7 soon, it was the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyon of the Christian Democratic Union in Germany, who may be taking charge again to try and maintain a pro-European coalition, headed by the affiliated European People’s Party, and build a broad working majority in the European parliament.

Going ahead, the EU’s greatest challenge may be to handle the growing resentment in people at rising migration levels that leaves the population in many small European countries with high living standards are afraid of their system of a welfare state being swamped by immigrants and seeing everyone suffer from rising living costs. And Ms Le Pen amplifies those fears expertly by harping on the seeming perils of European federalism, globalisation and dilution of nationhood through immigration.