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The danger that lies within Europe

Reviving democratic forces for the parliamentary race is needed to ward off the ultra-right’s threats

Madrid -

The creation of multiple rules and mechanisms to consolidate an economic and monetary union without any common democratic direction at the European level; a growing irrelevance on the international stage; the displeasure with economic policies aimed at excessive austerity; and the consolidation of ultra-right wing groups, who are trying to impose their immigration agenda on governments. All of this is taking place now in the European Union with just six months to go until continent-wide elections aimed at improving the alliance.

The danger at this crucial moment lies within Europe and the fatigue and lack of confidence of its citizens over the options prescribed for jobs and growth as fixes for unemployment and recession; over the possibility of controlling the economic policies, which each day grow more common; over the viability of reversing the deadlock in foreign policy objectives — most notably in the Middle East and Russia; and over immigration issues, with the deaths of African migrants at Lampedusa earlier this month as an embarrassing reminder of egocentric policies.

Without any reaction from the European parties and supportive citizens, this danger will cause deep rifts in the new makeup of the European Parliament, with a more notable presence by Marine Le Pen’s National Front coalition, which is threatening to become a major political force in France as it seeks out partnerships with other xenophobic movements. These ultra-right groups propose simple ideas: they are against European integration and migration. They are propagating their discourse and hope to block the European Parliament’s democratic duties, at a time when it has just gained more responsibilities.

Their political discourse is a false one, because the only body that is capable of planning and working out a sound focus to control immigration within the entire continent — encouraging legal migration while reducing the flow of illegal migrants — is the union as a whole. Like all the big issues in this global era — piracy on the high seas, currency shakeups, tax evasion, and threats by Russia to curtail energy supplies to Europe — only through a joint effort can these matters be efficiently straightened out.

But falsity, demagoguery and lethal blows to a democratic culture will emerge if the pro-democratic and pro-European forces don’t answer the call to arms. The upcoming race — the first held under the terms of the Lisbon Treaty — will allow the quasi-direct election of the candidate to preside the European Commission, ending the mediocrity of the current presidency and beefing up the democratic qualities of the entire union.

The leftists have already named their candidates: European Socialist Martin Schulz and the European Left’s Alexis Tsipras. The conservatives, greens and liberals are also expected to announce their candidates. For the debate to have profound meaning, national patronage should be rejected, a democratic spirit must be encouraged, and there should be a dignified drive for voter participation. It would be a sad paradox if the most powerful chamber ever created by European integration should fall apart under the grip of the most authoritarian anti-European forces.

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