In national and regional elections across Europe, the trend of these past three years is that the parties on the Right — those who peddle the political philosophy of populism — have enjoyed increased support. Whether it be in Hungary, Poland, Austria, the Netherlands, Spain, Norway, Sweden, Greece, Germany, France or Italy, voters seem attracted in droves by the quick-fixes offered by those who look at the world through their myopic glasses.
Feeding this has been the influx of more than a million refugees from Syria and Iraq.
But in a little over ten days’ time, voters across the 28 member-states of the European Union (EU) will be heading to the polls to elect a new European Parliament in Strasbourg. This parliament will be responsible for setting the police and laws of the EU, overseeing the work of the European Commission — the cabinet-like structure that governs areas of policy — and, along with the political leaders of the 28 member-states, setting the budget for the bloc for the next five years.
There is a new reality dawning for those who believe in creating a united Europe, one that strikes at the very heart of the pan-European project, and it comes from the crude nationalism embraced by those on the right of the political spectrum.
Most of those on the Right believe that the lowest common denominator is a loathing of those who believe in the free movement of people — regardless of what passport they carry, their colour or creed. And those refugees who seek a better life are the main target of these populists and hate-mongers.
These European elections must not be used as a platform to rip apart a political, social and economic bloc that has kept the peace in Europe for these past seven decades. Indeed, next month, we will be marking 75 years since the D-Day landings in Normandy, a great and perilous invasion that liberated western Europe from the dark and evil forces of fascism and hate. That was a vile philosophy based on the superiority of races and nationalities. It is little different from the vile hatred spewed today by parties on the far-right.
The European project is not perfect. But it is all that Europe has. It has made Europe prosperous, creating a common market for more than 550 million people, and together it is the third-biggest economic and trading bloc on the global stage. The Right cannot destroy that.