The 2014 European elections: true hope of democracy or fear in the face of nationalists?

European elections polarize the European public space‏

, by Michel Morin, translated by Nelly Tsekova

All the versions of this article: [English] [français]

The 2014 European elections: true hope of democracy or fear in the face of nationalists?

The political parties and the other actors (institutions, movements, lobby groups, think tanks) are taking on this election period.

The nature of the election with the election by proportional representation, produces a particular polarization: any old or emerging political group feels the desire and the right to participate. Moreover, malfunctions in major political organizations in the European elections themselves fuel criticism and rejection. As it is a political and media opportunity to exist , the danger of a multiplication of lists is great. In the context of anti- European gloom, the dispersion of votes, legitimate though it may be, may cause serious and unexpected results.

Indeed, the landscape is marked by four movements: the pro-European progressives, pro-European conservatives, traditionalists and nationalists.

Each of these parties is heterogeneous, but their identification allows to envisage the future electoral battles, alliances and power plays.

Nationalists want to destroy the European Union and block projects that lead to “more Europe”. The federal Europe, the federalists, Brussels, shared sovereignties are their enemies. Their common background also includes various forms of racism and xenophobia. Tearing apart these federal ideas to them is a duty to ordinary citizens. They take on the old forms of fascism and Nazism or adopt more honorable neonationalistic formulas. They can be hazardous aggregate in the European Parliament. The fight against their influence will continue after the campaign.

Traditionalists, as I propose to name them, remain locked in national visions for solving the problems they emphasize on and highlight in their programs. Their capacity for tolerance for the existing Europe varies depending on the subject, often full of contradictions. Their sharp criticism is partial and progressive.

Some are economically, socially and culturally conservative. They belong to the traditional national right. They defend and represent more or less narrow social or corporate groups.

Others defend popular values of the left for more social equality. The priority given to defensive battles limits the horizon. The use of leverage of national sentiment to counter the dominants is part of a long-standing tradition, with internationalist shine that has largely faded.

These two subgroups dream of a simpler and more understandable society, as “before”, unlike the Europe of today, perceived as too complex and which they often ignore. They are the breading ground in which nationalism can still find their room for improvement.

This is why the two pro-European groups must assume a heavy political task: to prevent the “traditionalists”, conservative or progressive from swinging towards the nationalists.

Pro-European conservatives want a Europe that could become Federal for some, but retains the economic system and wealth distribution, the existing rules, even if it means accepting some partial regulation in the European context. Constructive criticism against the European institutions are made in some circles. But with a relative majority in the European Parliament (EPP) and a close party (ALDE) this movement influences in an economic liberalism all policies of the European Union through the European Commissioners and national governments.

The pro-European progressives express themselves in a way contradictory to the federal project for Europe. For the social democratic left, it is projected into the future and it does not make the heart of the battle. The weight of the Socialist and Democrats (SED) in the European Parliament is such that the hypothesis is advanced that they could be the major force from which would come the future President of the Commission. On the contrary, for Europe-Ecology/The Greens, the federalist choice is clear. The European United Left (GUE) is a special case. Acceptance of the rules of the European Union and the active and constructive participation in the work are accompanied by harsh criticis, promoted or relayed by its militant bases, listed often among the “traditionalists” described above.

Some officials and analysts are tempted to put this political expression on the same plane as the nationalists. This is objectively wrong and a political mistake for the future. Only a strong political job, demanding exchanges and cooperation will allow to expand the main contributions of this movement as a result of European integration.

For independent expression of progressive European Federalists.

While retaining their differences, the pro-Europeans will have to join forces on their own time: today to fight nationalists and tomorrow to make the step towards federalism. And they will continue to be proponents of a democratic Europe.

But today, there’s no autonomous political expression, powerful enough to combine the European federal project and progressive choices: fight against inequality, fight against the financial powers, more equality, defense of the weak, protection of the environment, international solidarity. The emergence of some initiatives gives hope that I hope will flourish. .

Indeed, the movements are expressing themselves ( Saving Europe! Roosevelt Group), actions are being initiated, the European Citizens’ initiatives multiply, including that “for a European development plan for sustainable development and for employment”.

So tomorrow the European Federalists may carry weight in the European election campaign to counter nationalists, bringing hope for a more just, more democratic, and more social Europe.

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