The European Union is not unbreakable; something that is breakable is extremely valuable — allegedly said once Frans Timmermans, and today, just days before the upcoming European elections, these words have an extremely different impact. For the first time European festival of democracy is really meaningful, and the whole project has matured above the infancy of pure technocratic management. Our votes have a powerful meaning, that could change the future trajectory of the entire continent. At the same time people speculate that we are seeing a prologue of the coming fragmentation, chaos, and struggle that might push us back centuries back. Is this the end of the European Union, or just the end of the beginning? 

One might ask: why such a anxious mood among European elites and reputable analysts? The matter is simple: the main parties in the Europarliament may lose the opportunity to exercise their hegemony in these elections. And yet, it is their cooperation that we have always been so used to. We have built a sense of stability and predictability, believing that the European leaders we used to see would somehow always be there. Even the critics of the EU reacted mainly to this stability, calling it bureaucratisation and a disease of dry European governance coming from Brussels. 

In right-wing optics, but sometimes also on the outskirts of the left, the centre of EU power, be it the European Commission or the European Parliament, appears on the one hand to be a circus, where snails are the subject of a directive, vegetables turn to fruits when necessary, and in plenary sessions there are festivals of woke ideology and Nazi-veganism, whatever the latter may be. On the other hand, the Brussels elites are supposed to be Soros-funded monsters who strip the member states of their independence and agency. 

Today, however, such narratives can only be music beaten by right-wing drums on the campaign trail. The right has shown that it knows how to govern, how to change, how to manage its image and even how to fight to change the dusty status quo in Europarliament. Hence, the concern of the Brussels elite and, on the other hand, the potential joy that the Euro-election will finally change something. 

Be it Geert Wilders, Giorgia Meloni or Le Pen, or even Jarosław Kaczyński, Robert Fico, AfD, Swedish Democrats or True Fins, and a myriad of other personalities, actors and political parties, all of them hold revisionist views that have not only changed their countries, but also the whole European debate, thus changing already European Union as a whole. It is their spectre that looms over Europe.

Here, leaving this observation for the future, let us leave the poetical drift behind for a moment and let’s try to illuminate this situation analytically. The political far-right landscape that has so far been often portrayed as if the forces of the nationalist right were a single bloc. Which, in fact, they are not.

According to Politico’s Poll of Poles from 720 new MEPs, European Conservatives and Reformist can count on 72 seats, while Identity and Democracy might win 66 mandates. 

ECR is composed by Fratelli d’Italia, Law and Justice, Vox and Swedish Democrats. On the other hand, ID include Italian Lega, Le Pen’s Rassemblement National and AfD. Both of them are labelled as far-right and nationalist, thus, according to the popular belief, both are deemed to cooperate. However, the power plays are also on stage between far-right leaders. 

Lastly, it was Giorgia Meloni’s course of becoming a European power player embraced by Ursula von der Leyen, that has enraged Le Pen with her eurosceptical stance. What’s the most important factor here, is that both of them are in the centre of competition over leadership of the possible united European far-right camp that would bind together ECR and ID. 

At the same time, a micro-crisis is taking place in the ECR group, focusing on the potential joining of members of Orban’s Fidesz, a party that is considered by willpower to be directly a Russian Trojan horse in the Central Europe. Interestingly, once taking lessons from Orban, Meloni appears to be putting into practice the teachings of her multi-piano master, betting on Ursula von der Leyen in parallel with introducing a pro-Russian party to her European party. She is not alone in her endeavours; her move towards Fidesz has been backed by Mateusz Morawiecki, considered, interestingly, to be the leader of one of the most anti-Russian parties in Europe. The whole thing has been met with opposition and even threats of leaving the group from, among others, the Swedish Democrats and Romania’s The Right Alternative. 

The internal situation within ID is also far from rosy. In February this year, Marine Le Pen, fighting for complete hegemony in French centre-right politics, distanced herself from the AfD, after the latter organised secret meetings to debate taking away migrants’ right to stay in European countries, a policy of expulsion of unwanted people in the EU, thus fantasising about the racial and cultural purity of Europe. The outpouring of this information into the mainstream was met with an ogre-like proclamation from the German street, which chanted anti-fascist slogans, depriving the AfD of a few percent in the polls, while not depriving the party of its prospects of being the black horse of the upcoming elections. With AfD’s polling from 22 per cent earlier this year, to 16 now, her split could be considerable. However, she still occupies second place in the polls. Moreover, AfD is not alone in the German-speaking sphere; the Austrian FPÖ, known for its anti-immigrant rants, has the highest support at home, at 30 per cent

All potential puzzles indicate that, one way or another, the third force in the Europarliament could become one of the two right-wing factions. Currently, according to Politico, the liberal Renew Europe is in third place with a projected 82 seats. So any fluctuation in the polls, the possibility of which is all the more likely if we add in the perpetual underestimation of the right in Europe, could push the Liberals into third place. Thus weakening the hitherto ruling coalition of the European People’s Party, Socialist and Democrats and the aforementioned Renew Europe. 

What’s more, somewhere in the background remains the fate of the potential 107, following Politico’s polling tool, unaffiliated MEPs, a significant proportion of whom are precisely right-wing politicians who may in future join one of the two factions, or simply support them in votes. Thus becoming a significant factor in the European politics. 

Te tide of the revisionist right-wing narrative regarding the European Union is rising. Its strength is not only translating into parliamentary seats, but into the rhetoric of prospective MEPs, particularly those closer to the right than to the left. We saw this recently in the debate on the Migration Pact, which Poland and Hungary voted against. Nevertheless, in the course of the debate the agreement was opposed by countries such as the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Austria and Slovakia, among others, which, we note, are often governed by parties radically different from each other. What we know for sure is that the pact will be amended after the forthcoming elections, and perhaps after a change in the leadership of the European Commission. 

Another issue is The European Green Deal, which, under a wave of agricultural protests across the continent, is already being distanced from by politicians from both S&D and EPP, forced under the pressure of the right-wing, often denialist narrative coming from ECR and ID. 

The big absentee from the whole debate is the great reform of the European Union, designed to strengthen the steerage of the whole project, and it is actually here that the serious debate on what kind of Union we will see after the following elections. Certainly, the question of removing the unanimity rule will remain open. And it is precisely this which is of the greatest importance for the future of the entire project, which, however, precisely by the strength of its momentum and the clear azimuth of the direction in which it is going, namely federalisation, has been able to act so far, even if this action has frequently been worthy of criticism. 

The Europeanisation of Geert Wilders and Giorgia Meloni proves that the far right can be tamed, at least from the perspective of the main bloc of centrist parties that have governed Europe so far. The first one wanted to run a referendum on the Nexit, the second was suggesting scrapping the euro, none of it has happened, and everything indicates it won’t. 

Surely, this election will change the structure of the Union like no other to date, showing that populist parties can become part of the mainstream, carving out an ever-larger slice of the political pie for themselves. Trading off their anti-European, or revisionist hardcore ideas for some changes here and there, that might set up foundations for something much worse in the future. 

The most interesting thing is what factor will far-right has on appointed of the new European Council president, be it Draghi or once more Ursula von der Leyen, the far-right might suffer another split, since anti-German sentiment grew strong lastly. But what will they achieve from supporting one or another? 

Why the parties of the far right are so strong in Europe is, firstly, the difficulty the universalist left has had in creating a pan-European message. The European Union rides on a thorny horse and, as the recent crises have shown, it is much easier to navigate in the midst of it using the facilities of an individual state than the united European mechanics. The right simply has it easier in a Union that is so diverse, so often contradictory, and at times, inefficient. Secondly, the right knows why it is going to the polls; after all, it can always create a programme that is completely partisan to the EU as a whole, which will sell itself to the national electorate so that it can then work on coalitions at the European level; so what if, eventually, they regularly contradict its electoral demands? The important thing is that it works. 

The Left has a much bigger problem with this playing on multiple pianos, not having its own instrument, such as the aforementioned universalism. This leads to a final conundrum. The Right is able to prove, or at least create in front of its voters, an idea of the material changes it will give them in exchange for their votes. Something that is simple, catchy and, if unworkable? Then we’ll say it’s the fault of the Brussels bureaucrats! The left is incapable of creating an image with concrete content, whether it be schools, housing or health care facilities built with European funds. It doesn’t even have an idea of how to reduce inequalities between certain countries, and whatever catchy slogans Draghi picks up, along with Macron, it is the latter who talk about increasing the EU budget and new investments the loudest, and media-wise the most effectively, regardless of what has been written there in various left-wing programmes so far, and how many debates have been organised. 

All this deserves a new commentary, an in-depth analysis of the different discourses and problems of the left in the clash with the right. In the end, however, it leads to the fact that on 9 June we may wake up in a new Europe in which the future will already be decided by the right, and its values, its discourse. 

And the latter is already present in the parties belonging to the EPP or the RE, it entered the salons a long time ago, as we can see from the debate on migrant issues. The question is whether it will go even further? 

Once, Jacques Delors has said: Let us be powerful enough to command respect and to promote our values of freedom and solidarity. In this new Europe, the latter might be lost. 

Because, after all, it is possible that further concessions on migrant and climate issues will make it possible to trade off a particular line of federalisation, but will Europe not thereby become what it was not meant to be? A continent based on values and foresight.

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