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24/12/2018 | It will be a turbulent year for the EU

The Economist Staff

The contest between an old establishment and new challengers will define European politics in 2019

 

BRITONS MIGHT like to think that their country’s exit from the European Union on March 29th will be Europe’s defining moment of 2019. And the European Commission might like to think that the informal summit of leaders on May 9th in Sibiu, the historically German capital of Transylvania, under Romania’s presidency of the union, will be the pivot. Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the commission, the EU’s executive, and his team want to secure agreements there on everything from migration to single-market expansion before his term ends later in the year.

But in practical terms the European political year will turn on May 23rd-26th, when the 27 member states left in the EU after Britain’s exit will elect a new, slightly smaller European Parliament. About half of Britain’s seats will be distributed among the remaining members; the rest will simply vanish, reducing the size of the parliament from 751 seats to 705. Turnout may drop even further beneath its 2014 low of 43%.

The election and its aftermath will be a battle between old and new forces. On one side will be the European establishment: the centre-right European People’s Party (EPP) and the centre-left Party of European Socialists (PES). These two blocs have together obtained majorities at every European election to date, though their combined share of the vote has fallen over the past two decades from 66% in 1999 to 55% in 2014. It may well dip below 50% in May’s vote, as conventional Christian-democrat and social-democrat forces lose out to rivals.

Those rivals will span the spectrum. On the left will be Jean-Luc Mélenchon and his Unsubmissive France as well as the Dutch left-liberal force GreenLeft. In the centre there will be insurgents like Citizens (Ciudadanos) in Spain and Emmanuel Macron’s The Republic on the Move (La République En Marche) in France. And on the right there will be newly dynamic populist forces like Matteo Salvini’s Northern League in Italy and the Sweden Democrats. These outfits will be united by little apart from a general scepticism towards the Spitzenkandidat process, by which the designated “lead candidate” of the largest group, almost certainly the EPP, becomes the next president of the commission. Introduced in 2014, this process had limited support then and has become less popular since. Still, the two main blocs cleave to it as their best chance to retain influence. 

The elections will be a scrappy affair. The Spitzenkandidaten will conduct several television debates, all in English. Relatively few Europeans will pay attention. Debates in individual member states will, as ever, concentrate on national grievances. But the election will be more European than before, with EU policies on migration and, to a lesser extent, the euro featuring in the national debates of most member states. The enduring EPP membership of Fidesz, the authoritarian right-wing party that is trashing liberal democratic norms in Hungary, will cause controversy. Mr Macron’s efforts to subvert the Spitzenkandidat process with his own, new group of liberal pro-Europeans will grab headlines.

Afterwards, the time will come to parcel up the big five jobs: the presidencies of the commission, the European Council, the parliament, the European Central Bank and the job of high representative on foreign affairs. The commission job will go to the winning Spitzenkandidat, unless Mr Macron can somehow bend or break the system—but that would involve winning over a parliament with a veto over the appointment and widespread commitment to the process. Potential candidates include Manfred Weber, the EPP’s parliamentary leader, Alexander Stubb, a former prime minister of Finland, Peter Altmaier, Germany’s multilingual economy minister, Michel Barnier, the commission’s lead negotiator on Brexit, and Margarethe Vestager, the competition commissioner who has taken on the American technology giants. The presidency of the European Council might go to Mark Rutte, the Dutch prime minster, Dalia Grybauskaite, Lithuania’s president, or Helle Thorning-Schmidt, a former Danish prime minister. Some in Brussels speculate about a last-minute candidacy for either the commission or council job by Angela Merkel. But that is improbable.

The headline, however, will be a familiar one: the populists’ surge. Even if they do not form a common group in the parliament—a goal that has long fallen foul of internal divisions—the far right will be a significant force in the next European Parliament. So will the far left. The pressure on the political centre in Europe is building. It will either adapt, or fail.

The Economist (Reino Unido)

 



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06/09/2009|
06/09/2009|
05/09/2009|
05/09/2009|
26/08/2009|
21/08/2009|
19/08/2009|
19/08/2009|
15/08/2009|
15/08/2009|
15/08/2009|
11/08/2009|
11/08/2009|
11/08/2009|
11/08/2009|
19/07/2009|
19/07/2009|
18/07/2009|
18/07/2009|
27/03/2009|
22/03/2009|
22/03/2009|
27/01/2009|
27/01/2009|
27/01/2009|
17/01/2009|
17/01/2009|
17/01/2009|
17/01/2009|
17/01/2009|
17/01/2009|
11/01/2009|
06/12/2008|
06/12/2008|
06/12/2008|
06/12/2008|
23/11/2008|
23/11/2008|
16/11/2008|
16/11/2008|
04/11/2008|
04/11/2008|
03/11/2008|
03/11/2008|
24/10/2008|
24/10/2008|
24/10/2008|
24/10/2008|
15/09/2008|
15/09/2008|
15/09/2008|
15/09/2008|
15/09/2008|
15/09/2008|
06/09/2008|
06/09/2008|
05/09/2008|
05/09/2008|
05/09/2008|
05/09/2008|
01/09/2008|
01/09/2008|
01/09/2008|
01/09/2008|
22/08/2008|
22/08/2008|
17/08/2008|
17/08/2008|
16/08/2008|
16/08/2008|
28/07/2008|
28/07/2008|
28/07/2008|
28/07/2008|
28/07/2008|
28/07/2008|
19/07/2008|
19/07/2008|
24/05/2008|
24/05/2008|
03/05/2008|
03/05/2008|
29/04/2008|
11/02/2008|
05/01/2008|
09/12/2007|
18/11/2007|
10/11/2007|
10/11/2007|
06/11/2007|
06/11/2007|
06/09/2007|
26/08/2007|
25/08/2007|
11/07/2007|
16/06/2007|
16/06/2007|
10/06/2007|
10/06/2007|
19/05/2007|
19/05/2007|
19/05/2007|
19/05/2007|
24/04/2007|
24/04/2007|
14/04/2007|
14/04/2007|
05/04/2007|
05/04/2007|
05/04/2007|
28/02/2007|
28/02/2007|
05/02/2007|
05/02/2007|
04/02/2007|
04/02/2007|
04/02/2007|
04/02/2007|
04/02/2007|
04/02/2007|
29/01/2007|
29/01/2007|
29/01/2007|
29/01/2007|
11/01/2007|
11/01/2007|
11/01/2007|
11/01/2007|
27/12/2006|
27/12/2006|
27/12/2006|
27/12/2006|
27/12/2006|
27/12/2006|
20/12/2006|
20/12/2006|
17/11/2006|
30/09/2006|
28/07/2006|
12/04/2006|
12/04/2006|
12/04/2006|
06/03/2006|
21/02/2006|
17/02/2006|
31/01/2006|
10/01/2006|
28/12/2005|
31/10/2005|
26/09/2005|
29/08/2005|
11/08/2005|
08/08/2005|
24/06/2005|
24/06/2005|
24/06/2005|
03/04/2005|
03/04/2005|
03/04/2005|
03/04/2005|

ver + notas
 
Center for the Study of the Presidency
Freedom House