A populist surge in the May 2019 elections could change the face of the EU forever

Not so long ago, populists were banging on the door of Europe. Now they’re inside and calling the shots

Fredrik Erixon

There is a strange pre-revolutionary atmosphere in Brussels. At the various receptions and dinners before we broke up for Christmas, it felt a bit like the Last Supper. Elections to the European Parliament are usually predictable affairs, but this time Europhiles (like myself) fear it will be different. We have grown used to populists doing well in national elections over the years, from Sweden to Italy. But the European Parliament elections in May might lead to a landslide victory for Marine Le Pen’s National Rally, Italy’s League and other nationalist populist parties — and a victory may change the political face of the European Union.

In the past, it never really mattered much if the Euro election was carried by the left or the right: the result was the same anyway. The parliament has always been keeper of the federalist flame — much more so than the European Commission. In practice, elections only served the purpose of confirming the dominion of the overriding ideology in Brussels: that of ‘ever-closer union’. Yes, Euro elections would take in a haul of fist-shakers and heretics, and the odd political circus act. But whatever the question, the parliament’s answer had always been: ‘more Europe’. Read on…

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