Will the rise of populist parties in the European parliament have an effect on the EU’s external relations and Europe’s geopolitical position?

The recent elections to the European parliament led to the expected rise of populist parties, advocating anti-EU messages and fusions of right and left-wing positions. While the pro-EU conservative, socialist and liberal party families still hold about two thirds of the seats, the rise of the rebels – particularly from France and the UK (winning in both countries by a landslide), Greece, Hungary, the Netherlands and Austria – constitutes a significant challenge.

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  1. Dimitrios Triantaphyllou 4 years ago

    We forget in the analysis of the recent European elections that for all the rise of populist parties on the right and the left advocating anti-EU messages that a majority of citizens in many states did not vote at all…this implies sending a negative message to mainstream political parties that they have failed to inspire as they should both in dealing with the economic crisis and the process of EU European integration. In other words, their message is ‘fix what is broken’ instead of breaking it further as the populists of the right and left would want.

    This in turn implies that the EU should continue doing more of what it has been doing in its external relations with the support of the mainstream parties and its institutions. On the other hand, the rise of populism in the composition of the European Parliament will have an impact both on how the Parliament will operate and in terms of its legislative outputs given its growing institutional role in the decision-making process.

    As a first step, a careful assessment of the composition of the new Parliament and the positions of the various political formations and the individual members of Parliament needs to be made in order to better understand how to best more forward….is this a united, unflinching anti-EU block or is it one that is more heterogeneous and therefore more pliable and possible to work with as legislation relevant to the EU’s external relations is debated and voted on? How can the mainstream political parties work better together to ensure the passage of legislation? This is particularly relevant in light of the fact that many of the populist parties seem to be more pro-Russian in their positions thereby complicating the growing consensus among EU member states that a more concerted policy vis-a-vis Russia in terms of foreign policy and energy policy.

    The point is that the election results have indicated is that we have entered into virgin territory in terms of the EU policy making process which finds itself particularly challenged as its democratic process has given rise to outcomes that come as a shock to the vast majority of the Union’s citizens. It is now incumbent upon the member states and the EU mainstream, their political elites, and their institutions to try to bridge the differences and ensure that the policy making process does not further stall and lead to more skepticism but rather moves forward to reflect the Union’s external role and potential.

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  2. Dorothea Schäfer 4 years ago

    I do not think that much will change. The rise of populist parties is mainly because many EU-citizens still consider the elections to the European parliament as a playing field in which they can punish their personally preferred domestic party for putative misbehavior on the national level without having to fear the consequences. Therefore the outcome of the European elections has no predictive power for national elections. Moreover, it does not really have an effect on the balance of power within the EU as these rebel parties tend (most likely) to neutralize themselves. For these reasons I do not expect that there is an impact of the rise of populist parties on the EU’s external relations and Europe’s geopolitical position.

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1 Comment

  1. Maya Reynolds 4 years ago

    Europe is less and less of a force to be reckoned with. Putin gets exactly what he wants.

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