Europe going to extremes: Are Far Right set to change face of Brussels?

Patrick Young
Patrick L Young is CEO of niche crowdfunding platform HanzaTrade and an advisor to fund managers throughout the world. Born in Ireland, he is an active investor in the “New Europe” amongst other emerging markets and is an active Co Founder of grassroots startup group "Mission ToRun." Home Page: http://patricklyoung.net Twitter: @FrontierFinance
Europe going to extremes: Are Far Right set to change face of Brussels?
For years Europhiles have warned of the dangerous rise of extremists, painting the faintest whiff of EU criticism as a desire to plunge Europe back to the ravages of the Nazis.

Having ‘cried wolf’ once too often, the threat to democracy is only months away from coming home to roost in the heart of Brussels itself.

European Parliamentary elections are scheduled in six months’ time. Thanks to an economically disastrous desperation to retain the flawed euro currency at all costs, the results could drive a wedge through Europe, as anti-EU candidates, including many extremists, scent victory.

A pall of fear has begun to envelope the previously cozy Brussels political elite. This is hardly surprising given that their remarkable gravy train has failed to deliver prosperity. Far from it. However, the EU’s finest remain predominantly unrepentant about the economic damage they have high-handedly inflicted upon the European people. Rather, in Brussels, indignation and angst is reserved for something (to the Eurocrats’ peculiar value set) much worse than the mere sacrifice of a generation’s economic prospects. Rather, it appears the voters - curse them - have decided they don’t really have much faith in the EU at all.

In the latest voting system to elect the President of the Commission (that’s currently Mr. Barroso), each parliamentary political group can now name a candidate. Ambitious arch-Europhiles like socialist Martin Schulz salivate at the prospect of becoming a Grand Vizier of Brussels. However, first to name a candidate is the extreme left who have chosen Alexis Tsipras. His Syriza party almost won the last Greek general election on a strongly anti-EU platform.

Meanwhile a parallel worry stalks the European ‘elite’. Despite noisily trumpeting the democratic mantra, the EuroParliament exists under the cloud that members are usually elected on a low turnout poll with a high ‘protest vote’ element where citizens are keen to give governing parties a mid-term bloody nose. Hence an organized protest vote in May 2014 could have considerable ramifications.

Members of the ultra nationalist party Golden Dawn chant the Greek national anthem outside the German embassy in Athens on March 22, 2013. (AFP Photo)

Alongside Syriza’s de facto Communists, Golden Dawn’s neo-Nazis are also gaining ground. However, they are almost modestly sized compared to extremist movements in say France or Holland. Indeed the Dutch Freedom Party, led by Geert Wilders, has agreed an electoral pact with the French National Front. Dubbed ‘far right’ they are essentially anti-capitalist, protectionist fellow travelers to the communists. Thus from next May the European Parliament could have a radically different complexion. Whether it’s national socialism or the international variety, both vestige of extremist politics have a visceral dislike for the EU.

Unconvinced that this is likely? Well survey the opinion polls: As things stand the single most popular party in France, is Martine Le Pen’s National Front. In Austria, there has been something of a resurgence in support for parties whose views uncomfortably echo that most infamous of Austrians.

At present the real extremes of politics are occupied by a bare 5 percent or so of the MEPs. In the next, rather gargantuan, parliament (the word ‘diet’ is ill-advised given its 751 members) it is entirely plausible this can double to 70 or more anti-EU extremists of different hues. Moreover that doesn’t include the people who have been vilified by Brussels’ supplicant Europhile media as extremists for expressing relatively mellow criticism of the EU whether on left or right. The True Finns or Germany’s Alternative for Deutschland (which so narrowly missed breaking the 5 percent threshold to enter the German Parliament in the recent general election) line up in this category alongside Beppo Grillo’s Italian Five Star Movement.

Then there is the United Kingdom Independence Party which, while maintaining some eccentricities, does not remotely live up the extremist mantle which many short-sighted Europhiles have sought to apply to them. In a hideous twist of fate that will not be lost on the charismatic UKIP leader Nigel Farage, in the next parliament his blend of eloquent Euroskepticism may not merely ‘win’ the UK division of the EuroParl elections, it may indeed become the ‘sensible’ face of Euroskepticism which Europe’s increasingly discredited mainstream parties will have to deal with in order to avoid the Brussels/Strasbourg parliament descending into total farce.

There are long faces in Brussels, but so far few signs of the contrition or policy changes required to rid the EU of the failed euro currency, or to deliver growth. However, many extremists gain seats in the May elections, the incumbent Eurocracy will have only itself to blame.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.