Doomsday elections in Europe?
Next week's elections for European Parliament are likely to be treated as irrelevant by most European voters, with considerably less than 50% expected to turn out at the polls. Nonetheless, they are watershed elections, even though you wouldn't know that by reading the European press.
Both the press and most politicians strenuously avoid discussing what is really at stake in European politics. Instead, they conjure up doomsday predictions of the rise of supposedly anti-European "nationalists" and "populists." In fact, the "nationalists" are anything but anti-European. Expected to win between a quarter and a third of the vote, few if any of them want to leave the European Union, and in most ways, they are much more representative of traditional European values than the Brussels elites and the mainstream media would have you believe.
What they are really unhappy about are key concerns that the elites and most European governments simply refuse to discuss or even acknowledge. Prominent among them is Muslim immigration, which is changing Europe as we speak, and the asinine obsession of the elites with global warming that is wreaking havoc on the lives of ordinary people. It has come to that because of a longer-term preceding trend that fundamentally changed European politics.
That trend, in a nutshell, obliterated the traditional gulf between right and left in Europe and transformed most European politics to a version of left-of-center ideology. This was most obvious in Germany, where, under Merkel's leadership, the traditional German conservative party, CDU/CSU, abandoned its long-term beliefs and became barely distinguishable ideologically from the left-wing SPD and the Greens. Simultaneously, the Social Democrats veered off even farther to the left when, in 2013, they decided to cooperate with the former communists and refused to take a stand against SPD's servile pandering to Russia, demonstrated by former chancellor Schroeder's becoming a paid lackey of Putin.
The practical result was a remarkable change of CDU policies to embrace the closing down of nuclear energy, wholesale adoption of green renewable ideology, and ultimately the welcoming of two million mostly Muslim migrants in total disregard of E.U. rules (Dublin III regulation). This despite the well established fact that a majority of the Muslims in Germany and throughout Europe refuse to internalize European values or integrate, as exemplified by the fact that 62% of them voted for Islamist dictator Erdoğan.
Today, this ideological house of cards is facing its largest challenge yet, and the coming elections are part and parcel of this struggle for the future of Europe. The outcome has a great deal of significance for the United States, as well, because the leftward tilt of Europe in the past thirty years has also given rise to an intense anti-Americanism in the European press and in Brussels, where the American president is held in contempt, while, paradoxically, Europe still depends on that same president for its security.
The Left appears to have overreached, and its pet ideologies in Western Europe are increasingly seen as counterproductive and rejected by ever greater numbers of the population. As for Eastern Europe, it increasingly acts as a bloc opposed to Brussels in matters of immigration, where it is nearly unanimously opposed to being assigned migrant quotas, and also on the issue of security, where the Russian threat looms larger and where it is much closer to Washington and Trump than to Brussels. And Eastern Europe is no longer alone. As of next week, a large force of conservative and nationalist forces, east and west, will have a much bigger voice.
It is true that the bureaucracy in Brussels and the Macrons and Merkels of the old continent will not give up without a fight. Under the faux slogan of even greater integration and "more Europe," they are trying to further limit national sovereignty and introduce higher taxes, a minimum wage, and all manner of other collectivist measures. They may not be decisively defeated next week, but the times of easy victories for leftists and unelected elites are over.
Alex Alexiev is chairman of the Center for Balkan and Black Sea Studies (cbbss.org). He can be reached at email@example.com.