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10 June 2024, 14:17

European Parliament elections, or political earthquake: op-ed by Tomasz Szmydt

Tomasz Szmydt, a former judge of the Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw, who left Poland in early May and asked the Belarusian authorities for protection, comments on the European Parliament elections and the preliminary results in his op-ed.

First of all, we should ask a question: “Are the elections to the European Parliament in 2024 consequential?” So far, MEPs played more of a token role. They hardly influenced the domestic and foreign policies of EU countries. Politicians retiring from the national politics were given the right to run for the European Parliament. One could say that it was a kind of pension and reward. High salaries guaranteed MEPs financial stability but at the same time they “disappeared” from the political life of a country.

However, the 2024 elections had a completely different dimension. Brussels is carving out more and more powers from the national governments of EU countries. It's a bit like "boiling a frog in cool water." The temperature is raised bit by bit so that the frog does not feel the moment when it is already cooked. Brussels is doing the same, slowly but steadily appropriating more and more powers and agendas, reducing national governments to merely implementors, rather than decision-makers. This pertains not only to the legislative agenda, but also to internal and foreign policies of the EU countries.

Eurosceptic parties have obviously made political hay out of the recent elections. Most of these parties oppose NATO's direct involvement in the Ukraine conflict, the EU's support for this conflict, or armed confrontation with Russia and Belarus. They push for launching negotiations, restoring peace and resuming international cooperation. I looked at the updates published at about noon yesterday. Figures may still change, but I think the general picture is already clear.

France is experiencing a political earthquake as Marine Le Pen's Eurosceptics from the National Rally are projected to win about 32% of the vote, while Macron's warmongers have polled only about 15%. It came as such a shock that Macron, who suffered a crushing defeat, dissolved the national parliament and announced snap elections.

Germany's Social Democrats showed the worst result in history. CDU leader Friedrich Merz dubbed the result as a disaster and called for a change in policy. He publicly stated that “this cannot go on this way”.

The outcome of the elections in Austria turned out to be breaking news as well. According to preliminary results, the far-right Freedom Party of Austria (FPO) comes out on top.
The centrist European People's Party (EPP) associated with Ursula von der Leyen remains the largest party in the European Parliament with 181 seats. At the same time, Eurosceptic parties are increasing their presence in the European Parliament with a total of 149 seats. After such results, EU chief said: “We will build a bastion against the extremes from the left and from the right” (whatever that means).

The results of the European Parliament elections could be a game changer for EU-wide politics. The parties that postulate the preservation of national identity and traditions and advocate the restoration of cooperation with Russia and Belarus are gaining ground. The warmongers still have the upper hand in the European Parliament, but there is hope that this disastrous direction for the EU may change.
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