— Michael Roth MdB (@MiRo_SPD) May 25, 2014
Following elections in France and the rest of the EU, Roger Cohen writes: Make no mistake, [National Front leader Marine Le Pen] could become president. The National Front has surged before, notably in 2002 when Jean-Marie Le Pen, the incumbent’s father, reached the runoff stage of the presidential election. But in the dozen years since then the European and French crises have deepened. France has near zero growth and growing unemployment. With an estimated 25 percent of the European Parliament vote, the National Front crushed both the governing Socialists (14 percent) and the center-right Union for a Popular Movement (20.8 percent).
“An earthquake,” was the verdict of the Socialist prime minister, Manuel Valls. He is not wrong. A two-party system is now a three-party system. Marine Le Pen, subtler and cleverer and more ambitious than her father, is electable. She is plausible.
Elsewhere on the Continent the anger behind the National Front’s surge was also evident (no election is better suited for letting off steam than the European because the real power of the European Parliament is limited). In Britain, Austria and Denmark, more than 15 percent of the vote went to similar anti-immigrant, anti-Europe, anti-establishment, anti-boredom political movements. But it is in France, which constitutes with Germany the core of the European Union, that a European, economic and psychological crisis has assumed its most acute form.
According to the French daily Le Monde, the National Front took 43 percent of workers’ votes and 37 percent of the vote of the unemployed. Popular sentiment in France has turned against a Europe associated with austerity, stagnation, unemployment and high immigration. Le Pen’s promise of a more nationalist and anti-immigrant France, rejecting European integration and America, has appeal to the disenchanted. A promised Paris-Berlin-Moscow axis, with Putin and his “family values” as Europe’s salvation, masks a void of economic ideas. [Continue reading…]
Martin Kettle writes: Britain likes to think that it marches to a different political drum from the rest of Europe. Yet the 2014 European parliament election has generated a great political paradox. In these elections, British voters flocked in record numbers to the anti-Europe flagship party Ukip. And yet, as they voted against Europe, British voters have never seemed more part of the European mainstream than they do this morning. Across Europe, in one way or another, voters in most countries did very much the same thing.
The European Union has never confronted a crisis of legitimacy like the one that erupted in the polling booths of Europe this weekend. From Aberdeen to Athens and from Lisbon to Leipzig, and irrespective of whether the nation is in or out of the eurozone, the 2014 European elections were an uncoordinated but common revolt against national governments and a revolt against the post-crash priorities of the European project.
This election wasn’t a revolt of Britain against the EU. It was a revolt of European voters against the EU and against national governing parties. And British voters were simply one part of it. [Continue reading…]