European Parliament votes this week expected harbinger for US, world, right-wing parties set to win

Consensus indications are that right-wing nationalist parties are set to make big inroads all across Europe.

Published: June 2, 2024 12:12am

The next big vote on the most crowded electoral calendar in history will take place this week – when voters in 27 European Union states will cast ballots over four days in an election with direct implications for the U.S. 

More than half the people in the world live in countries that have or will hold elections in 2024.  

None of the votes loom as large as the U.S. presidential election in November. But voting for the European Parliament from Thursday to Sunday (the specific dates depend on the country) are expected to foreshadow on how the world’s political pendulum is swinging in the remaining months of this year. 

Recall that the stunning result of the U.K.’s “Brexit” vote in 2016 preceded Donald Trump’s equally stunning victory over Hillary Clinton less than five months later.  

“Driving the ‘Brexit' vote were many of the same impulses that animated American politics … anger at distant elites, anxiety about a perceived loss of national sovereignty and, perhaps most of all, resentment toward migrants and refugees,” the New York Times opined at the time

Similarly, important right-wing nationalist parties in France, Germany, Greece, the Netherlands, Spain, and elsewhere have been acting as influential counterweights to their governments for longer than the Trump-led Republican Party in its opposition to Democrat President Joe Biden's administration.  

Another factor is that many Big Tech names – Apple, Facebook and Instagram among them – are using the European elections as a dry run in their efforts to curb the influence of election misinformation ahead of the U.S. vote.  

But the most important consequence of the vote for the European Parliament will be to determine the tone of the leadership in a 27-nation bloc that includes many of the U.S.’s closest economic, political, and military allies.  

U.S.-Europe ties will go a long way toward impacting the effectiveness of U.S. foreign influence no matter which side wins in November. 

A total of 23 of 27 European Union member states are among NATO’s 32 members. The EU stretches from the border with Russia in the Nordic north to the eastern Atlantic and across the Mediterranean to the Black Sea and to the edge of the Middle East. Its geographical reach and influence in NATO are significant amid two wars – Russia vs. Ukraine and Israel vs. Gaza Strip rulers Hamas. 

The EU also has a population of 450 million and a combined economy roughly the size of China’s

Consensus indications are that right-wing nationalist parties are set to make big inroads all across Europe. A big enough shift could mean European Commission President and Trump critic Ursula von der Leyen could be replaced.  

“When I speak to people about right-wing populism these days many tend to believe that it’s old news,” said author and political commentator Fareed Zakaria. “But while it’s true that some populist heroes and causes have been battered, the core appeal of these movements persist and have gained ground in recent months.” 

That does not mean the movements represent a united front: Each of the more than 700 members of the European Parliament is a member of a specific political party with a specific ideology in his or her own country.

But in Brussels and Strasbourg (yes, the European Parliament has two bases) the various parties form loose, multinational coalitions.  

In other words, a supporter of France’s Marine Le Pen (a noted skeptic of European integration), one backing Italy’s Giorgia Meloni (who wants tighter controls on refugee arrivals from Africa), and someone representing the views of Hungary’s Viktor Orban (the European Union leader coziest with Russia’s Vladimir Putin) won’t necessarily have the same parliamentary agendas. But they will be among the priorities for the man inaugurated as U.S. president next January.

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