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After the elections the real battle for Europe begins


Taking stock of the results of the recent European elections is not an easy task. Many commentators have described the outcome as an ‘earthquake’, citing the surge in ‘anti-establishment’ parties, with voters supposedly lured by two ‘extremes’: the ultra-right and the extreme left. But this is a gross simplification of reality. As the Greek economist Yanis Varoufakis put to me in a recent interview, ‘Europeans were not lured by the two extremes. They drifted toone extreme: that of the misanthropic, racist, xenophobic, anti-European right’.

In total, nearly a third of incoming deputies in the chamber will be anti-EU ‘malcontents’, according to the think tank Open Europe. Interestingly, most of the support for such parties came from the wealthy countries of the core and of the North (most notably the UK, Denmark and France, and to a lesser degree Germany, Austria, Finland and the Netherlands) – which were largely spared the pain inflicted by the European establishment on the citizens of the periphery. In these countries, right-wing, eurosceptic or anti-EU parties have successfully exploited the legitimate (to a certain degree) fears and concerns of citizens resulting from the EU’s increasingly authoritarian and post-democratic posture, and from the hollowing out of national sovereignty and identity (due partly to the EU, and partly to the wider dynamics of the global economy) to peddle an even more reactionary, anti-democratic and authoritarian agenda.

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