Pro-#Putin alliance to shape the future of Europe?

| May 30, 2019

Were the European Parliament elections a referendum on attitudes towards Putin? Now that the European Parliament elections have been completed, a question arises: how will their results change the face of the European Parliament? The fact that many centrists and social-democrats (with their moderate views and agendas), who dominated the parliament for the last term, have lost their positions and no longer represent the parliamentary majority, indicates that there will be real change, writes Henry St. George.

By contrast the eurosceptic parties and right wing populists have been steadily gaining support with ordinary Europeans year by year and this election saw them increase their representation by over 30 seats. They are followed by alternative actors, such as environmentalists, who came sixth at the previous elections and now are among the top four major European political groups. With a record-breaking voter turnout of over 50 percent, a very fragmented European Parliament has been formed.

The reasons for this are quite clear. The elections were held at a time when frustration has taken over voter interest in Europe, dismayed by a downturn in stability and prosperity. Institutional chaos, the failure of migration policy, and a macroeconomic model that is inefficient for most of the EU member states have turned into deep fault lines, causing the continent of European solidarity to crack and triggering a decline in confidence for the future. This has dangerously increased the popularity of the “new right”, and we need no reminder of what happened when a similar trend and the collapse of the liberal model in the 1920s and 1930s brought the world into sharp conflict. Driving against the mainstream, these “new right” political forces have picked up on the theme of “understanding Putin”, which was unintentionally delivered to them by other European politicians.

Suffice it to say that the outgoing European Parliament has always been at the forefront of anti-Russian rhetoric: on Crimea and Ukraine, on support for Assad, on alleged Russian intervention in the US or EU elections. Working hard to protect European citizens against the destructive information policies of the Kremlin, the European Parliament even approved additional funding for the East StratCom Task Force to coach European diplomats in the art of monitoring Russian propaganda, and identifying “unreliable” politicians who dared to refrain from criticising Putin.

Here is how it all worked out. The European Alliance for People and Nations forged specifically for the elections (convincing victory in Italy, with 34% of the votes) with Italy’s Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini as its informal leader, together with its political allies from Marine Le Pen’s National Front (victory in France, with 23% of the votes), British Eurosceptic Nigel Farage’s Brexit party (victory in Great Britain, with more than 31% of the votes), Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and his Fidesz party (overwhelming victory, with 56% of the votes), the Austrian and Dutch Freedom Parties, the increasingly popular Alternative for Germany party (AfD), supported by nationalists from Belgium, Denmark and Finland, are all now well positioned to unite behind an “ideological revolution” in the heart of Europe.

Putin’s Russia can only benefit from this. We are talking about the very same Putin whose portrait was on Salvini’s T-shirt during a session of the European Parliament. The same Putin who has been praised by Marine Le Pen for his foreign policy stance in the face of enormous pressure from Western countries. The leader whom German AfD MPs that visited Crimea believe to be a guarantor of security for all Europe. The President who meets with Sebastian Kurz and Viktor Orban to conclude long-term government contracts on gas supplies and the construction of new nuclear power stations. The man to whom Bulgarian President Rumen Radev admitted that Bulgaria had made a huge mistake in yielding to EU pressure and discontinuing the construction of South Stream. The same Putin together with whom President Milos Zeman of the Czech Republic speaks in Russian, expressing hope that anti-Russian sanctions will be lifted as soon as possible.

Are we to believe that the hard-nosed Eurosceptics love Russia out of spite, or rather for its ability to supply Europe with cheap fuel and willingness to reopen its market, so attractive for European businessmen of all colours (from the car industry to agriculture)? All this goes well with their populist programmes. But that’s not enough. The truth is that Putin has become a symbol of the “conservative resistance”. The main trump card of his leadership is an alternative future. That is why Putin’s realpolitik, which combines sovereignty and conservatism with a touch of cold-minded northern determination, has long been admired – and not only outside Europe.

Putin is also surprisingly and dangerously relevant for the average middle-class European, who is not used to seeing the EU being constantly thrown into disarray by financial problems, budget deficit, mass migration, religious conflicts and an increase in terrorist attacks across major cities and small towns. Is there a subconscious affection for Putin with people who feel the Freudian need for a strong leader to respect the interests of common citizens rather than bankers and tycoons, a leader who will preserve stability, high levels of consumption and social protection defending them against a globalist agenda?

Is there a fundamental need for a leader who will take care of the traditional values and lifestyle of Europeans at a time when they are losing their cultural and national identities?

In an attempt to fill this perceived gap, the European right-wing opposition will apparently try to follow a Putin-style political agenda.

Is it too far-fetched to imagine in the current populist political climate in Europe that if the EU were to hold a general election for the President of the European Council, the most popular European leader likely to be elected in the first round, (if by some strange twist of fate he were ever to find himself on the list of candidates,) and by a significant majority – would be Vladimir P


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Category: A Frontpage, EU, EU, European Parliament, Politics, Russia

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