Despite all the media hype about the so-called populist sweeping the European Union election, it did not materialise.
But why are they called populists? Perhaps it’s because a significant part of the mega media has been peddling a great deal of what these parties are saying, and they don’t want to admit that they are actively promoting what is often called ultra-right politics, and usually related to fascism.
The term populist conveys the positive image that they are listening to the people and standing up for them. We should never apply the term to what are essentially fascist parties.
The promised fascist sweep did not come about because Europeans, especially the younger generation, decided to stand against the threat. An important aspect of this is the growing swell demanding that government, and by extension the European Union, do much more to tackle the existing climate emergency.
This is why Greens parties were the winners. The big losers were the traditional Conservative and Social Democratic parties, seen as the agents who brought about much of what is wrong today. They no longer hold a combined majority. It is the first time this has happened in the European Union’s 40 year history
Some fascist leaning parties did make gains, due to special domestic factors. In Britain it was the Brexit factor that saw Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party rise, Marie Le Pen’s National Rallyin France, in it was Viktor Orban’s Fidesz Party in Hungary, and the governing Law and Justice Party in Poland. But it was not enough to make it decisive in the outcome of the overall election result.
This has to be seen in the context of disillusionment with the traditional conservative parties.
The Social democratic parties leaked to the Greens and liberal parties, which combined have, now have more representation than the pro-fascist parties. Exceptions to the trends have been Portugal, where a Socialist and left coalition is in government, and more importantly Spain Where the Socialist Party has benefited from a surge against the emergence of the fascist VOX party.
The Greens, Liberals and identified left parties combined form a potentially formidable block.
Another important result has been the rise in the representation of the parties of the independence movements. Most notably from Catalonia, which is seeking to break from Spanish control. Exiled former president of Catalonia Carles Puigdemont and the imprisoned former vice president Oriel Junqueras, won seats. The grouping also includes the Basque eh Bildu, the Scottish Nationalist Party, and Ireland’s Sinn Fein.
With the exception of Italy’s Lega, the pro-independence parties are not likely to give any support to the pro-fascist parties.
It remains that together, the traditional Conservatives and Social Democrats remain the biggest block. But they will not be able to have it all their way any longer. This will provide openings for change. And the European Union certainly needs change.