Noteworthy gains were made by Europe’s nationalist-populist, eurosceptic parties in this weekend’s European Parliament elections as support for centrist parties which had previously dominated the European Union for decades drastically fell. The enormous success enjoyed by Italy’s League party, France’s National Rally, and the UK’s five-week-old Brexit party are glaring signs that Europe is indeed undergoing significant changes.
Signs like these mark the beginning of a “new European Renaissance,” declared Matteo Salvini, Italy’s populist Deputy Prime Minister, Interior Minister, and leader of the League at party headquarters in Milan. “A new Europe is born. I am proud that the League is participating in this new European renaissance,” Salvini asserted after exit polls predicted his party had garnered 27-31 percent of the Italian vote.
Salvini continued, saying, “Significantly, as the ‘League’ became the dominant party in Italy, Marine Le Pen swept into a leading position in France, and Nigel Farage in the UK…This is a sign that Europe is changing, Europe is tired of being a slave to the elites, corporations and the powers-that-be.” Surprisingly, the League’s left-wing populist coalition partner, the Five Star Movement (MS5), was outdone by the center-left Democratic Party (PD) which came in second with 21-25 percent of the vote, according to exit polls.
The League, which campaigned on a platform that attacked the globalist, pro-mass migration policies of the European Union, made sweeping gains, outdoing it’s governing coalition partner and rival, the 5-Star Movement.
Salvini assured reporters in Milan that the European election results wouldn’t ignite any “settling of accounts” within Italy’s internal political landscape, adding that, “nothing changes at the national level.” Salvini reiterated that globalist left-wing forces that have incompetently governed Italy and Europe for years now remain as his chief adversaries, while his populist allies in government were partners and friends with whom he would immediately resume cooperation and joint work.
Last year in March, Salvini’s League came in the third place in Italy’s national elections, garnering about 17% of the vote, while MS5 amassed over 32 percent. Since, support for each party has flipped, with the League winning around 33% of EU election vote while the support for MS5 slumped to 17%. Just five years ago, in Europe’s last parliamentary elections, the League barely managed to overcome the 6 percent barrier.
Since then eurosceptic, populist, and right-wing parties have made significant gains across Europe in the EU parliamentary elections, as the political center – which has dominated over the past 40 years – has been hollowed out substantially. In France, Marine Le Pen’s right-wing populist National Rally party celebrated a small but symbolic victory over Emmanuel Macron’s globalist En Marche party. In Germany, the center-right CDU party of Chancellor Angela Merkel along with its center-left coalition partner CSU also suffered losses. In the UK, the majority of Britain’s seats went to Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party, with the 5-week-old party winning nearly 32% of the vote. In Sweden, the nationalist-populist Sweden Democrats also made noteworthy gains, jumping from 9 percent to nearly 16 percent.
But the globalist-led centrist bloc that has dominated the European Parliament for the last 40 years wasn’t only eaten away by parties on the right. The left made significant gains as well, with the Greens jumping from 50 MEPs in 2014 to around 70. The composition of the newly formed parliament will be used by the 28 heads of state and government to assist in the choosing of a replacement for Juncker along with his counterpart in the European Council, Donald Tusk. This year’s election saw the highest voter turnout among its 426 million eligible voters in two decades.