Do Elections Have Consequences?

“Democracy” Versus the People of Europe

The results of the European Parliament elections last weekend seem to be yet another sign of a right-wing political wave rising in Europe.

In an unmistakable defeat for the international Left, voters in 27 E.U. countries walloped the liberals and greens and gave the center-right European People’s Party even more control in the 720-seat “legislative” body. 

Austria’s Freedom Party won its first-ever victory in an E.U. election, taking 25.7% of the vote on Sunday. And this on the heels of its victory in that country’s national elections earlier this year, which Politico’s European branch called a “tragic election result.” 

Additionally, the Brothers of Italy party won in a historic landslide. It solidifies the position that the disappointing Prime Minster Giorgia Meloni has in Italian politics (despite the initial excitement over her rise). The party looks to gain somewhere between 23 and 25 seats in the European Parliament, up from six.

The effects of this rightward shift were even felt in Brussels, the E.U.’s capital. Belgium’s Prime Minister Alexander De Croo resigned after his party was crushed in a national election (held simultaneously to the E.U. elections) and looks to lose nearly half of its seats in the Chamber of Representatives. 

Hungary’s Fidesz party, led by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, won 44 percent of the vote in Sunday’s election, gaining 11 members in the European Parliament. In what seemed to be a solid showing on the surface, the party disappointingly received 11 percent less of the vote compared to 2022. But that did not deter Orbán. “To sum up the result of the European parliamentary election,” he stated, “we can resume it best as a telegram that sounds like this: Migration full stop. Gender full stop. War full stop. Soros full stop, Brussels full stop.”

The major news, which was breathlessly reported by virtually every media outlet, was the growing strength of “far Right” parties, especially in France and Germany.

There must have been a series of memos on terms to use in the international media’s listserv, because every media report I could find described the election results in the same way: a harbinger of a “far Right” takeover of Europe, with clear totalitarian overtones. According to the media, Hitler-like figures are always on the march, accumulating power somewhere (in the leftist mind, it’s perpetually 1938). And as the supposed avengers of freedom, it’s the media’s job to stop that from happening.

But in using this lazy, drive-by label, the media is simply repeating the same tactics as the European political elites themselves. Considering the results of the E.U. election, however, that strategy no longer seems to be working. When a political class threatens voters with bad names, the social power of such rhetoric is bound to eventually wear thin, especially when it comes up against the decay and disorder voters increasingly see in the places where they live. And that is exactly what seems to be taking place. 

In Germany, the Alternative for Germany (AfD) attained a second-place finish due to a strong showing in the eastern part of that country. The German people are clearly dissatisfied with the exceedingly unpopular Chancellor Olaf Scholz and his party. In fact, the Associated Press reported that this was the Social Democrats’ worst showing since World War II, surely an ominous sign for Scholz’s continued reign. 

The German elite have been preoccupied for some time with how to deal with the AfD. Faced with the options of trying to debate them or ban them from politics, the elites have unsurprisingly sided with the latter option. In 2021, a German court ruled in favor of a state intelligence agency’s decision to put the entire party under observation for “suspected extremism.” In the wake of this election, however, Germany’s elite may have the difficult task of treating them as a worthy opponent.

As it was for parties in other countries, immigration was perhaps the biggest factor that led to the German people’s interest in the AfD.

Christopher Caldwell noted last fall in the Claremont Review of Books that “24 million of Germany’s roughly 80 million people—almost 30%—are of ‘migrant background,’ and 2.7 million migrants settled in the country in 2022 alone.” Then-Chancellor Angela Merkel opened up the immigration spigot in Germany, a decision that some elites, Scholz included, have since begun to second guess in public. But their recognition of the problem has likely come too late.

For increasing numbers of Germans, the benefits of globalism are outweighed by its drawbacks: the massive costs of unfettered mass migration, dwindling political liberties, and considerable changes to their culture that were introduced without their approval. If centrist parties want to win in Germany going forward, they will have to copy what the Danish Social Democrats have done and adopt popular planks of rightist parties, like restricting immigration.

Another surprise came with the rise of France’s National Rally, led by Marine Le Pen, which dominated the entire country save for Paris. National Rally (RN) received double the percentage of votes compared to President Emmanuel Macron’s Renaissance party. After RN’s big win, Le Pen said that she’s “ready to defend the interests of the French, ready to put an end to mass immigration, ready to make the purchasing power of the French a priority.”

In response, Macron called the National Rally’s bluff and dissolved the lower house of the French Parliament, the National Assembly. He’s asked for a snap election in a few weeks to determine the future of France’s political leadership. Contrary to some ill-informed online commentators, this was not part of Macron’s tyrannical designs but is a crafty use of France’s parliamentary system (the president has not called for an early election since 1997). 

French policy specialist Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry, the publisher of PolicySphere, has gamed out Macron’s likely strategy. Gobry says that Macron and his advisors will work to “ensure [National Rally’s] unpopularity (perhaps with the help of some ‘deep state’ sabotage), and set up the Macron camp for victory in the more important 2027 Presidential elections.”

Though the French Left quickly united under the “Popular Front,” the Right has been quite a different story. The President of The Republicans, Eric Ciotti, announced a coalition with National Rally, only then to be fired by outraged members of his party—though Ciotti maintains he’s still president. And similarly, Éric Zemmour last night expelled Marion Maréchal, niece of Marine Le Pen, from his Reconquest party. Maréchal wanted party members to back a coalition of candidates on the Right, including RN, in a possible bid ultimately to remove Zemmour himself.

Even with the turmoil on the Right, it’s likely that RN’s Jordan Bardella will become prime minister and Le Pen will have a majority in the lower house of France’s Parliament. Gobry notes, however, that this could lead to disaster if RN is not careful. He contends that the “prime minister’s office has often been the ‘kiss of death’ in French politics, as the prime minister tends to get all the blame and none of the credit as the monarchical president stays above the fray of day-to-day politics.” Macron is clearly hoping that his gambit will pay off.

Many on the American Right have been noting for nearly ten years now of an impending global realignment that returns sovereignty back to the peoples of Europe—which seems to be a vicarious hope of what they want to happen in America. Rather than globalist governance that conceals the managed decline of Europe, which was formerly a key chamber of the beating heart of Western civilization, there seems to be a growing thirst for a fundamental reorientation away from the liberal international order.

Evidence of dissatisfaction in certain E.U. countries has certainly shown itself again and again in the wake of these seismic shifts. But will these votes amount to anything of consequence? Remember Brexit?

This is very much unlike what has recently transpired in El Salvador and Argentina. As American Reformer Contributing Editor Ben Dunson has commented, Nayib Bukele and Javier Milei have each achieved remarkable progress toward reestablishing a prosperous civil order in a short amount of time. They are getting serious results, not just giving their people warm feelings about voting the right way. Whereas in Europe, the peoples’ votes don’t seem to matter—or at least not yet.

This may simply mean that what’s currently possible in South America is simply not in Europe. Europeans will need a dogged persistence to move beyond a creaking, massive governing apparatus with deep roots that was created for a different time—and a system that the current elites are working very hard to maintain. Uncoupling from the perpetual motion machine of the Brussels bureaucracy will require the resourceful ingenuity of a group of statesmen over the course of at least one more decade, if not more.

Lafayette Lee’s quip in light of the E.U. elections—“We must save democracy from these elections!”—gets to the heart of the issue. 

The fundamental political choice remains for Europe: subservience to a transnational body that runs roughshod over the needs, history, and traditions of particular countries and their peoples or snatching back political control from faceless, unaccountable bureaucrats. 

Are Germany and France merely administrative sectors filled with replaceable units (formerly called citizens)? Or are they countries whose people and cultures should be preserved for future generations? This is the choice that currently confronts those who live under the European Union—and the same choice that’s before American voters this fall.

Image Credit: Unsplash

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Mike Sabo

Mike Sabo is a Contributing Editor of American Reformer and an Assistant Editor of The American Mind, the online journal of the Claremont Institute. His writing has appeared at RealClearPolitics, The Federalist, Public Discourse, and American Greatness, among other outlets. He lives with his wife and son in Cincinnati.

2 thoughts on “Do Elections Have Consequences?

  1. Western governments are designed to resist rapid, one-sided change. What will probably happen is that the right will continue to make advances over the coming decade or so until it reaches a critical mass.

    We cannot continue with modern liberalism. It has become intolerable.

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