The Right Has Nothing to Lose But Its Chains
Ted Malloch and Felipe Cuello, authors of GEO DEUS: Trump’s World
Eurosceptic parties gained seats in the recent European elections. How can they coalesce and work together now that they have done so well?
For some reason, they always seem to win the battle while losing the war.
The reason Euroscepticism remains on the fringes in Brussels boils down to the party system in the European Parliament.
United they amount to about 150 votes, enough to edge out the Socialist group as the second biggest – with all the attendant parliamentary privileges that affords, from speaking time to staff positions and presidencies of important committees, to say nothing of the really big jobs.
Sadly, they remain split into three incoherent subgroupings.
Even the mainstream hasn’t decided which is more Eurosceptic than the other. Despite this, they are often lumped together in that snooty centrist hand-wavy way we all know and love.
Nigel Farage presides over the EFDD group, which is mainly composed of the 8-week old Brexit Party and the Italian 5-Star Movement. M5S – cinque stelle – is the only party that can claim to be truly un-ideological.
Their party positions are decided by intraparty votes and can be quite left wing on environmental and foreign aid issues.
Nigel’s Brexit Party is similarly heterodox, with MEPs all over the political spectrum. Nigel’s own Thatcherite core will always be a part of whichever movement he incarnates, but the presence of far-left figures from UK contexts should be noted.
David Cameron’s ECR has seen better days. Having tried out various Blairite labels (“euro realist” sadly never caught on) the idea was to position a reformist, free-market impulse as a counterweight to the French dirigiste tradition of statist plumage.
Having lost Syed Kamall, the president of the group – and seen a once-numerous Tory membership dwindle to just 4 seats – the future of the ECR is in flux.
Poland’s PiS is committed to drawling the line between constructive Euroscepticism and “Europhobia”.
Having put two former PMs on their MEP list, Poland means business in this session, but has so far not distinguished itself with any brilliant manoeuvres other than the formation of the ECR itself.
They should repeat the trick by allying with the Eurosceptic super group.
On the “far right” – by European standards anyway – the ENF has Salvini, Le Pen, Wilders, and the works.
The ENF officers aren’t quite as high profile as Farage but they are a formidable lot who have weathered the hardest part of the storm in opposition as their countries saw a withering economic depression and a migrant crisis.
ENF party members can be surprisingly left-wing on traditional political questions like taxation and redistribution.
Salvini has emerged as the one person who is able and capable to pull all the ends together – the rare Eurosceptic actually in government.
Another Eurosceptic that actually governs their country is Viktor Orbán of Hungary, who –inexplicably – remains in the EPP.
To be fair, defection is a lot to ask of a small party like Fidesz (13 seats). Leaving aside that Fidesz should defect precisely because the EPP is spineless enough to keep him around is a moot question.
Assuming the other 3 groups (ENF+ECR+EFDD) could come together, Orbán could single-handedly swing the EU presidential election by forcing the centrists to live up to their own platform – the largest party gets the crown.
Where to go from there is an open question. One must never be the dog that caught the car it chased after: clueless about what to do with it.
The EPP and Socialists – which in our optimistic scenario has lost at least one major party – remains committed to the presidency of the Commission going to the nominee of the biggest party in the European Parliament.
At the very least, they will be forced into an embarrassing flip-flop. This coup would also spite the Frenchman, Macron, who has aggressively campaigned against this system.
It is possible to find a consensus candidate that could really turn this exercise into a productive scenario for everyone.
Manfred Weber, the EPP candidate, is obviously out of the question, never having been head of a country.
Viable Eurosceptics include Silvio Berlusconi, another MEP whose membership of the EPP defies explanation.
Beata Szydlo, a former PM of Poland, is also in with a sound chance and she is a woman.
Racing against the clock (the next session begins in August) the “defection” game has to build up to the point where it becomes unstoppable.
The crux of the argument for PiS is that the 31st October Brexit will possibly not happen, and some have doubts as to if it’ll happen at all. Who knows?
Either way, they should join forces with Farage, even if it means shedding the UK’s Conservative party, whose paltry last-place showing in the election was a much-deserved disgrace.
Should the ECR and EFDD come together, Farage will be leading the 4th biggest group.
This is worth doing no matter what.
Whether they can then tempt Salvini and the rest of the ENF to come on board, we can remain hopeful.
The ENF Eurosceptics and Farage have had their differences in the past, and the opportunity to be a bigger factor has so far been wasted.
Imagine all the Eurosceptic appointees that could be placed in the European Commission.
The march through the institutions could finally begin.
The PiS reformist aims are the same as Farage would like if he thought Europe could be fixed, which they can help to prove by becoming the cornerstone of the Europeans for Common Sense movement.
With 175 votes, that puts him within striking distance of the largest party, EPP, which currently stands at 179.
Take out the 13 Fidesz MEPS from the EPP column and put them on team EFDD, leaving us with the possibility of Farage presiding over the biggest parliamentary grouping.
That would be a real coup!
As the largest group then, they get the right to be the first to nominate a candidate for the Presidency of the Commission, which Weber’s EPP is ferociously defending right now.
Forcing him to stand by this commitment and vote in a Eurosceptic Commission is a distinct possibility.
That’s the only path to the Eurosceptics taking over as the largest party.
They need to just do it.
The situation where a “Rightist Alliance” surpasses the EPP to become the largest group is now possible if they grab the bull by the horns.
It’s quick, back of the envelope math but this is the case and everyone should be encouraging the leaders of Europe’s Right to attain it rather than squabbling with each other and staying in the cold.
Reason should prevail.
The Right has nothing to lose but its proverbial chains.