Meanwhile, Europe Elects a ‘Parliament’

Conventional wisdom can sometimes be a contradiction in terms. We saw such an example in coverage of the European elections that took place a couple weeks ago. Most of the press went with the easy narrative, including Politico’s European branch.

Indeed, Germany and France did see genuine far-right parties surge, at least compared to 2019, the last time a “parliament” was elected (they don’t quite have the powers a national legislature does). As they’re the two largest nations in the EU, they drove the narrative. The third largest (Italy) also saw a surge from a right-wing party.

There’s where the similarities end, though – and the lesson begins for the rest of the democratic world.

While all three parties (Germany’s Alternative for Deutschland, France’s National Rally, and the Brothers of Italy) are all outside of the establishment center-right in Europe (the European People’s Party), the Italian party is different from the other two. Brothers of Italy is part of the European Conservatives and Reformists, an off-shoot of the largely Christian Democratic EPP. The other two were members of Identity and Democracy (I say, “were” because AfD was kicked out right before the election).

From a domestic perspective, that appears a distinction without a difference, likewise on migration from outside Europe. However, there is a major difference between ECR and ID: Ukraine.

ID is the closest thing pro-Russia or Russia-curious parties have to a home. ECR, by contrast, is firmly pro-Ukraine. Moreover, while both groupings made gains in the vote, the ECR had bigger gains and a better overall result.

So while immigration restrictions were a sure vote getter, the other key “populist” plank (subservience to Moscow) didn’t do so well.

Over here, President Biden has tried to close the yawning gap he faces on immigration, but no one expects him to actually win the election on that issue. He can get more traction on Ukraine, however – and it looks like every little bit will count this fall.

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