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E.U. Elections Could Be Watershed for Conservatives

Posted on Tuesday, April 9, 2024
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by Walter Samuel
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AMAC EXCLUSIVE

the EPP of the E.U.
The European People's Party; President Manfred Weber speaking.

This June, voters across the European Union’s 27 member states will elect members of the European Parliament, the Union’s legislature. With farmers occupying capitals across the continent in a transnational revolt against a “European Green Deal” being forced upon their nations from Brussels, opponents of European federalism can be expected to make gains. From France, to Hungary, to Portugal, where the national conservative Chega movement recently scored a spectacular electoral breakthrough, the people of Europe are beginning to stir out of their slumber.

Their revolt may not be enough to topple the E.U.’s elite just yet, but it is likely to mark a watershed nonetheless: the end of the Merkel Era across Europe.

For two decades, the parties of the establishment center-right across the continent have played a double game. While feigning conservatism, they have used the rise of genuinely right-wing parties to blackmail the center-left into keeping them office.

The result has been a continent-wide zombie government, where “conservative” politicians and parties carry out woke policies that neither left nor right voted for. While Angela Merkel was the pioneer of this particular practice in Germany, blackmailing the Socialists into keeping her in office for twelve of her sixteen years as Chancellor, even as her support fell below a third of the vote, the approach has spread far and wide.

France’s Macron, for instance, now uses fear of Marine Le Pen to secure the votes of the left for a government of management consultants, while Portugal’s new government commands the support of a mere 29 percent of the electorate and holds only 80 of 230 seats.

This zombie government by “conservative” politicians dependent on left-wing support has created the perfect climate for radical “green” policies to flourish. Panic over climate change and policies to promote “green energy” and a “green transition” combine rhetorical virtue signaling to the left with governmental giveaways to the multinational corporations and institutional investors who make up the only genuine base of these faux-conservative parties.

The European Union has not escaped this method of government. The European People’s Party, or EPP, has for two decades held the presidency of the European Commission, ruling in coalition with the Socialists and Liberals. As the latter two have lost seats to populists of the left and right, the EPP has traded a full embrace of climate change and “green policies” for control of every key office.

This culminated in the “European Green Deal,” the priority of Ursula Von Der Leyen, the Chairwoman of the European Commission, and Angela Merkel’s former defense minister.

The European Green Deal does little for reducing CO2 emissions, but a lot for banks, which will make a killing off trading carbon credits. It does little for farmers, who will be banned from tilling their fields, but does a lot for the holding companies which will collect billions in subsidies to not plant crops on land where they have built office parks. It will not produce “green” nuclear energy, but will provide electric vehicle manufacturers with subsidies.

Most importantly, the Green Deal has accomplished what decades of haggling over trade, regulations, and pipe dreams of a common army or foreign policy failed to do: unite Europeans of all nationalities and backgrounds and create a genuine political debate.

Abraham Lincoln once famously remarked, “You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.” That is the ethos of the leaders of the European Union, who see it not merely as an economic or even political union, but as a bulwark against the supposed excesses of “democracy” in various member states.

Occasionally, voters in one of the member states will get the idea into their heads that they have the power to govern themselves in a direction not set by Brussels. The European governing class accepts this will inevitably happen at some point in most countries, but never at the same time or from the same political direction. When these democratic revolts occur, the unified consensus of the other member states can be mobilized against the recalcitrant nations, as it was when Greece revolted from the left in 2011, or when Brussels forced out right-wing governments in Austria and Italy during the 2000s.

When the E.U. stands united against a single fire, the awesome power of ostracism has proven effective in bringing individual nations to heel. One reason Angela Merkel was so ruthless in wielding this power against Greece and so quick to bid London adieu was a realization that while one flame could be snuffed out, a forest fire could bring the entire system down.

The European Union was frustrated for years by an alliance of just two states, Viktor Orban’s Hungary and Poland under the Law and Justice Party, proving just how ramshackle the whole structure is. That explains the enthusiasm with which Brussels has thrown its resources to the efforts of Donald Tusk’s new government in Poland to proscribe its Law and Justice predecessors, despite having expressed concern about “democratic backsliding” non-stop for years.

For the E.U., the pro-Brussels Tusk’s actions are not the persecution of political opponents or the violation of democratic norms, but the proscription of rebels against the E.U. Rebels threaten the peace of the realm, and rulers must stamp out every last vestige of rebellions lest they return. It is far from a coincidence that Donald Tusk, the E.U.’s candidate to lead Poland, was himself the previous head of the European Council. 

The dirty little secret of the European Union is that in the eyes of its architects, the only true Europeans were the transnational elites, and the E.U. was a system of uniting them while keeping the national populations divided.

This is evident in the structure of the European Union. Unelected institutions such as the bureaucracy and executive, which are accountable to member states or transnational financial interests, are designed to promote centralized decision-making through majority rule. By contrast, the elected institutions such as the European Parliament are governed by rules seemingly designed to promote fragmentation and to leave them ineffective.

E.U. law has required elections to the European Parliament to be conducted through a form of proportional representation, even in nations such as the United Kingdom (before it left), where national contests are decided by first-past-the-post. This has the effect of encouraging the proliferation of parties within each member state.

With larger member states receiving a greater number of seats, they correspondingly suffer greater fragmentation. This is why, even though populist parties are leading in most E.U. states, they are unlikely to come close to winning a majority.

This fragmentation is compounded by how the European Parliament is organized. To access E.U. funds for staff or serve on committees, Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) must be a member of a political party or group with at least 25 seats. This system works against nationalist parties from smaller nations and conservative parties from larger ones alike.

Hungary, for example, only elects 21 MEPs total, so even if the conservative Fidesz Party were to win every seat (and it only won 12 of 21 last time) the members of that party would not be able to receive funding or serve on committees without partners from other European states.

The E.U. claims this policy encourages transnational coalitions, but in practice, this both favors the pro-EU liberals, socialists, and establishment “conservatives,” and allows them to coerce possible dissidents by threatening to expel them from the pan-European groups.

While Euroskeptic and nationalist parties can theoretically form multinational parties of convenience, they are much more likely to be fragmented and are subject to the same coercive controls. The two leading ones are the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR), which was led by the previous Law and Justice Government in Poland with 68 MEPs, and the Identity and Democracy group (ID), dominated by Marine Le Pen’s National Rally (France) and the Italian Liga.

That, for what it is worth, is how the European elites like it. The current ruling “coalition” includes the center-right European People’s Party (178 seats), the Socialists (139 seats), and the Liberals (102 seats). They have ruled continuously since 1977 without a change of government. Since 2004, every President of the European Commission has been a member of the EPP, a testament to the political dominance of the “party” of Angela Merkel and Donald Tusk.

The coalition ensures that voters can at most influence the exact composition of the European Commission by shifting their votes from a “conservative” party to a liberal or socialist one. But the only majority that matters is that which the three together hold in the overall body, and it has never been threatened.

The zombie “conservative” politics of the Merkel era ensured this coalition won even when it lost. If the EPP’s component parties gained seats, it represented a mandate to govern. However, if the EPP’s members lost seats to genuine conservatives, well that meant that the Socialists, Liberals, and even Greens had no choice but to keep the EPP in power to keep out the “far-right.”

This “trick” relied on a specific mathematical situation – one in which genuine conservatives were strong enough to ensure that no majority existed to the left of the EPP, but also one in which the forces to the right of the EPP were few and fragmented enough to allow the EPP’s member parties to tell their voters that they had no choice but to work with the left.

The problem for this alliance of elites is that this argument has been falling apart. Opposition to the European Green Deal has united the parties of the right, while the global realignment in the member states has eroded the differences between shades of conservatives. The current Italian government, for instance, includes the Brothers of Italy (ID), Liga (ECR), and Forza Italia (EPP).

Polling indicates that if the June elections will not produce a majority to the right of the EPP, they will provide for a majority for the EPP and the right, without the need for the Socialists. While the EPP’s European elites would prefer to prioritize the “European” partnership with the left over the possibility of a “right-wing” coalition, the EPP is still a coalition of member parties, almost all of whom are facing a major populist challenge to their right at home.

Whether it is the Christian Democrats facing a challenge from the AFD in Germany, the People’s Party facing Vox in Spain, or the VVD losing out to Geert Wilders in the Netherlands, the EPP “zombie right” cannot afford to be revealed to be naked. If the EPP has the option of forming a purely right-wing government and chooses not to do so, the blame for the European Green Deal will fall solely on its constituent members.

In short, while the immediate governmental impacts of the June European elections may seem limited, they are almost certain to mark a watershed in conservative politics on the continent. Either the EPP will abandon the “grand coalition” with the left that has governed the E.U. since 1977, dropping the European Green Deal, or, if it chooses to maintain the coalition with the left, constituent parties will be discredited, marking an end to the zombie establishment politics which have frozen European capitals into a state of anti-democratic lethargy.

The June elections will therefore either produce a realignment at the European level, or the backlash against their failure to do so will trigger a realignment across twenty-seven European states that will accomplish the same end in even more dramatic fashion. One thing is clear: The Merkel era is finally likely to end.

Walter Samuel is the pseudonym of a prolific international affairs writer and academic. He has worked in Washington as well as in London and Asia, and holds a Doctorate in International History.

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Thinking
Thinking
1 month ago

Just like in the US are the Europeans in the various country awake to what the left is doing? Italy, Poland, Hungary are the countries that are onto the left. In the Netherlands they gave Geert Wilders a majority but the coalition has been busy for the past 6 months to form a coalition. And nothing has happened. The left throws in roadblock after roadblock. Till the next election. In meantime the left keeps doing what it wants. Parlement had okayed 300 million dollars for the Ukraine and the defense minister wrote a check for a billion and send it. Parliament was not notified. Like everywhere else the low level cabinet members decide what is best for the country. Not the voted in parlement members not the people. This is how America is ruled and Europe as well. The era of Angela Merkel is well and thriving in Europe like the O era is doing in America. Inflation is high in Europe as well, why? The war in the Ukraine. And taking care of all the migrants leaving third world countries and settle in Europe and are treated better than the citizens of the countries they move to. See a similarity?

Andrea T
Andrea T
1 month ago

European countries were definitely sold a bad bill of goods when they joined the European Union. Initially people were positive about the resulting conveniences of businesses, trade and of course traveling. However, these conveniences just lulled people into giving up more and more of their individual country’s identities and freedoms.

Joearcher
Joearcher
1 month ago

The European Union is just page three of a history of elites who ruled Europe, starting with the Hapsburgs of Austria, then the progeny of King George II, who as royals in Britain, also ruled the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Spain, and Monaco; and are all distantly related to each other.
This is different than the Babylonian, Greek, and Roman empires. The rulers of those empires are long gone, whereas the royals of Europe are still in power, and their lineage can be traced back to either or both of those two families. They demand subjugation because of their supposedly royal bloodlines.
The rulers of the European Union are nothing more than today’s ruling class royalty.

carol exposito
carol exposito
1 month ago

I must admit I got lost in the double-speak by the third paragraph. At least in the USA we know the Whie Hats from the Black Hats. In Europe they play musical “hats” like we played musical chairs in kindergarten. It’s like a shell game trying to guess who’s who.

Patricia
Patricia
1 month ago

What do you actually mean by “watershed”? Please use terms that make sense.

David
David
1 month ago

This is a tremendous article. Too bad it is not in my most recent issue of AMAC magazine, so I can read hard copy.

Jeri
Jeri
1 month ago

Read history, it does indeed repeat. What lies ahead has been several times throughout history. Do we really need to go there again?

Tom
Tom
1 month ago

Does anyone see the hand of the Bilderbergers in the Euro Union

James hart
James hart
1 month ago

Unfortunately, too little, too late. EU is nothing but a socialist/communist leaning group of countries supporting all the UN Globalists Agenda. They are mostly atheistic/Catholic who do not support the bible and they elect fascist leaders similar to the USSR. They have more foreigners in their countries than country men. They bring their crime, socialism, violence and continue the traditions of their home country, not the EU.

Stephen Russell
Stephen Russell
1 month ago

Can export to the US

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