Centre is holding but Far Right gains a “concern”

By Martin Banks

Gains by the far right in last week’s EU elections are “deeply concerning”, says former UK MEP Claude Moraes

The far right held their positions in Italy and the Netherlands (with swings between far-right parties rather than to them).

But they failed to make headway in other countries where they were predicted to do well: Belgium, Czechia (the Czech Republic), Hungary (a setback to Viktor Orban), Finland and Poland.

Even so, Moraes, one of the UK’s most senior former MEPs, said the results give real cause for concern.

He told this site, “The deeply concerning far right gains in France and the impending French general election give a pivotal moment to switch direction our move its political and moral direction towards the worst aspects of European politics of the 20th century.

“But paradoxically the actual result of the EU elections did not create a far right majority in the EU parliament – not even close.

“They have more MEPs distributed between the ECR and ID Groups but neither is bigger than the EPP.

“Ursula Von der Leyen was right to say that the ‘centre is holding’. The S&D returning roughly the same number of MEPs as in 2019, and the liberal Renew with 79 seats are still a force despite being damaged by the loss of French Renew MEPs.

“The reality is that at EU level the centre right conservative EPP will hold the balance of power in the new parliament. Will they tack far right and form alliances with the ECR and ID or form what could be a substantial anti – far right majority.”

Moraes, a former Labour MEP, added, “There is all to play for in the new parliament – but serous decisions will have to made in the coming days.

“The presence of the far right in Europe in the 21st century is now a given – how non-far right parties react is everything.”

Elsewhere, Edward McMillan-Scott, another former MEP, noted that the poll was the world’s second-largest democratic plebiscite this year.

Reflecting on the outcome, he told this site, “It seems that the malign interventions by Putin’s army of disrupters has failed, unlike in 2016, when they distorted the result of the UK’s Brexit referendum, feebly proposed by David Cameron to appease his party’s nationalist.”

Looking to the near future, he added, “It remains to be seen how the European Parliament arranges itself and the European Commission in the coming days, but history weighs on it heavily, and the prospect of darker days ahead impose a special burden.”

McMillan-Scott was the UK’s last Vice-President of the European Parliament serving four terms 2004-2014. He represented Yorkshire as a pro-EU MEP 1984-2014 but left the Conservative Party in protest David Cameron’s creation of the ECR partnership in 2009.

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