X Close

The coming civil war on Europe’s Right The EU will never allow populists to win

Meloni has come under fire in recent weeks (Antonio Masiello/Getty Images)

Meloni has come under fire in recent weeks (Antonio Masiello/Getty Images)


April 4, 2024   6 mins

With the European Parliamentary elections just two months away, the final result seems all but decided. “A far-Right takeover is underway,” warn the experts of Foreign Policy. “This time, the far-Right threat is real,” add the prophets of Politico. And, give or take their hyperbolic use of “far-Right”, these cautions are warranted. Even though the centre-right European People’s Party (EPP) will remain the largest group in the Parliament, the biggest winners are expected to be the two groups to the Right of the EPP: Identity and Democracy (ID) and the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR). According to the latest polls, the latter two groups alone could account for more than 20% of MEPs, and have almost as many seats as the EPP alone.

If we add those MEPs from Right-wing parties that are currently not affiliated with any group, such as those from Viktor Orbán’s Fidesz, a Right-populist coalition could potentially emerge for the first time in the history of the European Parliament, unseating the “super grand coalition” of the three centrist groups (EPP, S&D and Renew Europe) that currently rule the EU institutions. That’s easier said than done, however. Aside from the near impossibility of an alliance between the EPP and ID, Europe’s Right-populist parties are far from a united front. In fact, with polls showing a very tight race between the ECR and ID for the position of third-largest party in the European Parliament, the two groups — and their respective unofficial leaders, Giorgia Meloni and Marine Le Pen — are currently engaged in a fierce battle for the leadership of the European Right.

This was brought into stark relief earlier last week, when the ID group — which includes Matteo Salvini’s League in Italy, Marine Le Pen’s National Rally in France, the AfD in Germany and the Freedom Party of Austria — gathered in Rome for a convention. Salvini and Le Pen reaffirmed their refusal to support a second mandate for EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen (VDL) and slammed Meloni for not ruling out a deal with the EPP over VDL’s re-election.

Over the past two years, Meloni has developed a close relationship with VDL, even joining her on European diplomatic visits to Tunisia and Egypt to curb migration. The reason is rooted in self-interest: Meloni sees the prospect of maintaining a powerful ally in Brussels as vital to her government’s survival, even at the cost of disappointing voters and her own coalition ally. Le Pen’s concerns, on the other hand, are very different: as she gears up for a showdown with Macron, she needs every disgruntled vote she can get.

“Giorgia… will you support a second von der Leyen term or not?”, Le Pen asked in a broadcast to ID delegates. “I believe so. And so you will contribute to worsening the policies that the people of Europe are suffering from so much.” In her message, Le Pen also urged Italian voters to oppose Meloni and vote for Salvini’s League. André Ventura, the leader of the rising Portuguese party Chega, also backed Salvini at the congress. “We’re not going to lie to ourselves: we’re watching ECR’s support for von der Leyen very carefully because it’s going to be a very, very divisive element,” concluded Mathilde Androuët, president of the ID Foundation.

For her part, Meloni continued to dodge the issue: “The problem is not the president of the Commission, the problem is the majority that supports the president, because it is this majority that decides policy in Europe,” she said. The important thing, Meloni argued, is to achieve “a centre-right majority” within the European Parliament — even at the cost of a possible compromise with VDL.

Despite her best attempts to paint a rosy picture, the episode was indicative of the growing strains within Meloni’s coalition: being the junior partner of an increasingly pro-establishment government has been a disaster for Salvini’s popularity, hence his recent efforts to boost his populist credentials by marking his distance from Meloni over the EU — and enlisting the endorsement of a populist heavyweight like Le Pen. But there’s more to the Le Pen-Meloni spat than mere electoral calculus.

The question of VDL’s re-election is exposing deep rifts within the European Right — and not just between the EPP and the Right-populists. Even within the ECR group, many of the largest national parties — including the Law and Justice party in Poland, Vox in Spain and Reconquête in France — are strongly opposed to a second VDL mandate. Even more strikingly, VDL is facing opposition within her own group. The Republicans party, which represents France within the EPP, has also come out strongly against VDL’s re-election, denouncing her as “the candidate of Mr Macron and not the Right”. It’s thus easy to see why many of Meloni’s Right-wing “allies” are concerned by her relationship with VDL. Having one of Europe’s largest and most powerful Right-populist parties endorse a new “Ursula coalition”, together with Macron and the Socialists, would be a huge symbolic blow to any claim that Right-populism represents a viable alternative to the European political mainstream.

And yet, it would be a mistake to lay all the blame for this on Meloni. The reality is that the row over VDL’s re-election also reflects fundamental ideological disagreements between Europe’s Right-populist parties, particularly on geostrategic issues. The parties that make up the ECR, for instance, all generally have a strong transatlantic, pro-Nato orientation, and have come out in favour of military support for Ukraine. The firm criticism of Russia by the ECR group as a whole was recently illustrated by the co-signing of a joint declaration on further military support for Ukraine in January 2024, together with the EPP, S&D, Renew and the Greens.

“It would be a mistake to lay all the blame for this on Meloni.”

The ID group, meanwhile, is deeply split over the issue. Salvini’s League, which had previously sought close ties to Russia and Vladimir Putin, has now aligned itself with the political mainstream over Russia-Ukraine, while the Finns Party last year left ID for the ECR, largely due to disagreements over Russia. In contrast, both the National Rally and the AfD have taken a much more critical stance on EU-Nato support for Ukraine, while many parties within ID have either abstained or voted against every resolution relating to Nato relations. Similar fundamental differences exist in both groups on other crucial strategic issues — such as EU membership, European enlargement and China — as well as on social and economic matters.

Ultimately, however, the biggest obstacle to the emergence of a united European Right-populist front has little to do with the parties’ ideological differences, but is related to the nature of the European Union itself. Due to the degree of economic and financial control that Brussels exercises over member states, especially those that are part of the eurozone, even “populist” governments have little choice but to go along with the EU’s diktats.

After all, the EU has had no qualms about resorting to financial and monetary blackmail in the past, including against countries that are not part of the eurozone, as it recently did with Hungary after Orbán threatened to veto the bloc’s latest Ukraine support package. Brussels’s threat to sabotage Hungary’s economy was telling of the neocolonial mentality that dominates the EU establishment — and of how far the EU will go to bring recalcitrant governments to heel. The result is that populist parties, particularly in the eurozone, can afford to be radical only insofar as they are in opposition, but are forced to betray their electoral promises once they get into power.

This goes a long way towards explaining the differences between the ECR and ID groups: while the former includes several parties that have been or are currently in government, ID member parties have largely played an opposition role in their respective countries. If they were to get into government, they would quickly shed their radicalism, as others have done before them. Indeed, for all her criticism of Meloni, the truth is that Le Pen herself, in her bid to become France’s next president, is already undergoing a process of “Melonisation” — abandoning her anti-euro platform and softening her position on Russia-Ukraine and Nato.

All of which is to say that it would be naïve to assume that a Right-wing majority in the European Parliament would change this state of affairs, given that the real power in the EU is exercised elsewhere — in the Commission, in the Council and in the European Central Bank. Nor is there any guarantee that electing more Right-populist governments would create the conditions for “changing the EU from within”. Despite all the top-down efforts to “Europeanise” politics on the continent, European politics is still driven by national economic, geopolitical and cultural dynamics — and these will continue to differ starkly among nations regardless of the ideological affinity between governments. By refusing to acknowledge the elephant in the room — the fundamental and irreconcilable incompatibility between the EU and democracy — Right-populists across the continent are, once again, setting themselves up for defeat.


Thomas Fazi is an UnHerd columnist and translator. His latest book is The Covid Consensus, co-authored with Toby Green.

battleforeurope

Join the discussion


Join like minded readers that support our journalism by becoming a paid subscriber


To join the discussion in the comments, become a paid subscriber.

Join like minded readers that support our journalism, read unlimited articles and enjoy other subscriber-only benefits.

Subscribe
Subscribe
Notify of
guest

118 Comments
Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Paddy Taylor
Paddy Taylor
3 months ago

More than Populists, the EU fear leaders who are patriotic and who wish to see powers returned to elected Govts within the bloc.
Most of all the EU fear leaders who galvanise national support for such a position.
The EU’s clear mission is the erosion of the nation state – it has always been that – by fair means or foul. The EU can’t hope to function with 27 sovereign states, each with a representative govt.
The EU can only ‘succeed’ in a future where decisions are made above the nation state; by institutions, large corporate interests and financial markets, overseen by politicians who remain entirely unaccountable and never have to subject themselves to the inconvenience of achieving a popular mandate. The commission – who sets such policy – operate with no transparency and under no democratic mandate. In the Eurozone it is even more obvious, with markets and credit ratings agencies able to entirely override the will of the people.
Throughout its existence the European Project has been constantly changing (though never reforming), always moving forward towards further integration, towards political and fiscal union – towards federalism. If you had any doubts left then you only need look at who was appointed to replace Juncker et al. Open federalists – despite the fact that the EU Parliament put forward more pragmatic candidates who did not want to see the federalist future pushed so hard.
Wishing to be part of a USofE is an entirely credible and valid position – I wholeheartedly and strongly disagree with it, but have no problem with those who genuinely espouse such a view – if they have the moral courage to be open and honest about it. Where I do have a problem is with those who seek to achieve such an aim via the back-door, without gaining the consent of those they wish to govern.
One way to lessen the sense of nationhood, to undermine the patriotism of individual member states, is for them to import vast numbers of new immigrant citizens who have no sense of national identity.
At least for the present, if an honest referendum were held on a federalist future in all EU member states then we’d see a widespread rejection of it. Say the EU laid out a 5 or 10 year plan, leading towards a fully federal European state, then there’d be wholesale opposition to that idea.
Of course there’d be some backing for such a vision amongst Federalist supporters – but country by country, how many would see a majority vote to become a state within a USofE? Germany? Ireland? France? Spain? Italy? The Netherlands? Not a chance. Not even Denmark. …. Maybe, just maybe, Belgium would enjoy the idea, but who’d join them?
But, of course, the EU won’t do that – for the same reason they have never done that. The concerns of the citizenry have never been allowed to stand in the way of the broader EU ambitions. It would happen incrementally, as all these things do – but quite deliberately. As the arch federalist J-C Juncker himself described it, “We decide on something, leave it lying around, and wait and see what happens. If no one kicks up a fuss, because most people don’t understand what has been decided, we continue step by step until there is no turning back.” 
And don’t for a minute imagine that a veto would save a sovereign state from being subsumed – Such trifles have been swatted aside by the commission before now. ‘Unanimous consent’ becomes ‘Qualified Majority voting’ whenever it suits the commission’s broader objectives. I’d no more trust Brussels to honour a veto than I would have trusted Juncker with the keys to the wine cellar.
What is the common denominator amongst all the European Heads of Govt that have been smeared by the EU and their supportive media?…. well, it might be best encapsulated by Georgia Meloni herself, when she said that she believed the EU “should do ‘less, better’, and be a confederation of states, a Europe des Patries, not a federal superstate.” 
With that, she painted a target on her back.

Paul Curtin
Paul Curtin
3 months ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

Faultless comment. Well said.
Hope you’re not writing this in Scotland where it would be classed as incitement to hatred.
Any criticism of the globalist agenda by the proletariat will not be tolerated.
Ireland votes on their hate crime bill this summer.
Another country where soon you’ll have a knock on the door for speaking truth to power.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 months ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

Be of good cheer, The Holy Roman Empire struggled to gain control of its (over 300 at one point.) constituent members for nearly a thousand years and ultimately FAILED.!

Norfolk Sceptic
Norfolk Sceptic
3 months ago

Apparently, it wasn’t really Holy, or Roman, or an Empire.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 months ago

In Voltaire’s opinion, and he was obviously correct.

Carl Valentine
Carl Valentine
3 months ago

They didn’t have (un)social media though… 1000 years hardly counts as a failure in the ephemeral world of politics.

j watson
j watson
3 months ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

I think what some sensible people fear is the infantile way Populists engage with problems such that if/when they have power they’d make a complete shambles…and a shambles probably the least worst scenario.
Now that doesn’t mean we override democracy, but for democracy to function well telling lies and misleading to get elected resulting in great disappointment and disaffection should have consequences. On that I suspect we’d agree.
One other obvious point – UK has shown perfectly that the EU wasn’t the problem after all.

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
3 months ago
Reply to  j watson

Now that doesn’t mean we override democracy, 

Of course it does. You should be more upfront about your elitism and make the case for it without being so mealy-mouthed. I’d respect that – but I despise all this obfuscation. Be honest about your beliefs.

Chipoko
Chipoko
3 months ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

“The EU’s clear mission is the erosion of the nation state …

One way to lessen the sense of nationhood, to undermine the patriotism of individual member states, is for them to import vast numbers of new immigrant citizens who have no sense of national identity.”

An excellent analysis – thank you!
It’s not just the EU that is hell-bent on destroying nation-states. This is the globalist aspiration of the Woking Class elites in all the western ‘democracies’. Look across The Channel at the UK to see how a Woke Tory administration over the past 14 years has substantially undermined every facet of Britishness, including national identity. In 2024 the total net migration into the UK is forecast to be 1+ million! Brexit has made little or no difference to the political dynamics here. With Sir Keir Starmer’s victory in the forthcoming general election, I predict that he will negotiate some sort of re-entry into the EU fold.

nigel taylor
nigel taylor
3 months ago
Reply to  Chipoko

Am a trifle puzzled what the no doubt worthy Woking elite have got to do with it.

Chipoko
Chipoko
3 months ago
Reply to  nigel taylor

Puzzle away!

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
3 months ago

At least Britain had the good sense to step out of that fetid swamp which is the European Union.

Juan Carlos Martin Romano
Juan Carlos Martin Romano
3 months ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

Yes, because the UK is doing so exceedingly and extraordinarily well right now. They’ve controlled immigration, stopped anti-white hatred and are done with woke nonsense. Truly they’ve the example to be followed by the rest of Europe.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
3 months ago

The subsequent incompetence of the Tories doesn’t mean leaving the EU was the wrong decision

David Morley
David Morley
3 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Perhaps. But it also didn’t fix anything.

JC
JC
3 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Perhaps. But it also doesn’t mean it was the right one. And the UK has the added problem of the FPTP, making it extremely difficult for an alternative to arise, unless there’s a change in the dominant narrative. Which is what’s happening now in Europe, as attitudes towards immigration harden and the Green Deal is becoming less and less popular.
But is there such a change in the UK? Honest question, btw.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
3 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

It wasn’t just the incompetence of the Tories but the fact that they were profoundly divided over the issue, as they are over immigration.

I actually support the principle of Brexit, but to me much of the many of the leading Brexiteers were bombastic charlatans, shouting simplistic slogans and being extremely rude about the negotiating partner that they hoped negotiated a good deal with! That is pretty stupid to say nothing else! There was also a big division among Brexiteers between the free trade buccaneering vision, and that those who wanted a much more protectionist and interventionist state. Brexit was a vote against something not for any particular settlement. Nigel Farage for example used to advocate the Norway option and even a second referendum. There was only later deliberate strategy to define anything other than the hardest possible break with Europe as a kind of treacherous “Brexit in name only”. Surprise surprise for EU played hardball with us, with a good negotiating hand.

The idea that we were going to bound free after being in a 40 years long economic and (to a significant extent) political Union was always a complete fantasy. Integrated with Europe and it would probably take decades to go the opposite way. The UK will eventually forge its own distinctive path. However I suspect it will always have close links to what after all is this nearest trading neighbour, and some of these will indeed place obligations on our own internal affairs.

Damon Hager
Damon Hager
3 months ago

We have problems created by bumbling politicians. But at least they’re *our* problems, and *we* will have opportunities to fix them. Our destiny, for good or bad, is in *our* hands.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 months ago

“If at first you don’t succeed try, try, and try again”.
That spirit has served us quite well for the last five centuries or so.
How was it with Hispania may I ask?

(*RK.)

JC
JC
3 months ago

The spirit of the Reconquista seems rather similar to me to the one you mention. Maybe you’re ignoring the parts of Spanish history as per your convenience.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 months ago
Reply to  JC

Perhaps you are unfamiliar with Spain’s uninspiring performance in the 19th century, and also perhaps the little bout of depravity and savagery they indulged in in the late 1930’s?

JC
JC
3 months ago

Believe me, I’m very much aware. I’m also aware of how you ignore the following decades of Spain, with quite a big recovery or the previous times. You talk about decline as if you were impervious to it.
We’re still standing, not thanks to our traitorous politicians though, which have nothing to blame the EU for, very much like yours.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 months ago
Reply to  JC

Well at least we can agree on “treacherous politicians “.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
3 months ago

Ghandi said ” We will make mistakes but they will be our mistakes “. Admiral Ramsey after Dunkirk ” All British victories start in defeat “.
I suggest there two woods which symbolize Britain at it’s best. Oak which strengthens with age. The resilience of yew which made the longbow and the willingness of the volunteer to stand his ground and fight, be they the archer, the sailor and the infantryman of Wellington’s squares.
Unfortunately Britain appears to be led by milksops wielding bows of balsa wood.

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
3 months ago

The French have all the same problems we do. The difference is that we can fix them. They can’t.

JC
JC
3 months ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

Why’s that? It seems to me they’re closer to fixing their problems.
And to be clear, I say this as someone who would prefer the UK solve its problems.

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
3 months ago
Reply to  JC

The French have been consuming more than they produce for more than forty years. Their debt now stand at around 115% of GDP before unfunded state liabilities are taken into account. In short, they’re in much worse shape than we are. The Germans are no longer able or willing to make up the difference and we’ve left the EU. The only remaining option is devaluation … but wait, they don’t have their own currency so that’s off the table too. Sure they’ll stagger on for a few more years. But what goes around comes around sooner or later.

Philip Broaddus
Philip Broaddus
3 months ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

USA is 124 percent. It’s out of control. Both parties.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
3 months ago

The Cultural Marxism has infiltrated the UK since the 1960s. The collectivist mind set has been part of the EEC since the beginning. To a certain extent they are aspects of the same problem; a determination to thwart the independence of the individual.

jasper pike
jasper pike
3 months ago

And the EU are doing so well on those issues? Give me strength!

Cathy Carron
Cathy Carron
3 months ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

It should have never waded into it in the first place.

Fabio Paolo Barbieri
Fabio Paolo Barbieri
3 months ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

And look how well it’s working out. You’re half way to rebuilding the Empire, aren’t you? And your governance is a shining light of transparency, democracy and honesty to all nations.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 months ago

You really are an angry little chap Barbieri, what is the problem?

May I hazard a guess and ask if you have the inestimable ill fortune to be of Italian origin?
If so, and given that Italy was ‘only’ invented in 1860, what type of Italian’ are you? Sicilian perhaps?

Stephen Philip
Stephen Philip
3 months ago

An Italian relying on the largesse of Germany. Trouble for the EU is that Germany can no longer afford to bail out Italy, or any other EU country for that matter.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 months ago
Reply to  Stephen Philip

Gott sei dank!

Stephen Philip
Stephen Philip
3 months ago

Compared with the EU, yes. It’s a bit like with our GDP stats right now. Pretty dire but not quite as dire as comparable EU countries such as Germany.

Carl Valentine
Carl Valentine
3 months ago

Fabio, you make some excellent points but expect down votes as this is a right wing site, most on here think Israel is a victim and that genocide is ok if its Arabs. (sad but true)

jasper pike
jasper pike
3 months ago
Reply to  Carl Valentine

You are an obvious anti semite. You conveniently ignore Hamas barbarity AND refusal to release hostages. You have NO conception of genocide.

jasper pike
jasper pike
3 months ago

Thats rich. Pot kettlel and none so blind. Buffoon.

Linda M Brown
Linda M Brown
3 months ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

Labour wants to rejoin. It also wants to give voting rights for General Elections to close to 3 million EU nationals living in the UK. They could swing the vote to return to the EU.

j watson
j watson
3 months ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

And allow a tiny coterie of it’s populace to decide we’ll have May, Bojo, Mad Liz and Sunak lead us.

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
3 months ago
Reply to  j watson

I do love this pretence that there’s some sort of distinction between the Labour components of the Oxbridge governing class and their Tory counterparts who sat in the same seminars in 1985 and have exactly the same neo-liberal ideology. You are in for some serious disappointment over the next few years.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
3 months ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

It is not ideology which unites them but character. Their ego desires glory but they lack the heroic charismos; they are not Odysseus or Helen of Troy.

j watson
j watson
3 months ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

I sense you may have been an Oxbridge reject HB?
Regardless of the education/life experience of some of our leaders I think our Country lucky to have two such world renowned institutions.
Re: Neo-liberalism – you may need a bit of adult study though yourself – neo-liberalism has a Friedman/Thatcher/Reagan genesis. I’m not entirely sure you are rubbishing them too, or are you? Or maybe just confused in your argument?

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
3 months ago
Reply to  j watson

How much of Britain’s success is in spite of and not because of Oxbridge- archers of the Middle Ages, sailors of Elizabeth I, the wool trade, Industrial and Agricultural Revolutions, Shakespeare, and most of 19th century literature, Engineers- what about those designing planes , Marlborough, Wellington and the Royal Navy,Shackleton, Churchill, Lloyd George . The increase in influence of Oxbridge increases with the education of Civil Servants post 1857 and setting up of entrance exams for Civil Service. The introduction of the PPE degree in 1922 coincides with decline of Britain.
I would suggest that the British tradition of considering character more important than Brains has saved us from authoritarian rule. No matter who long one spends in education, one cannot become wise. One can only become wise by learning from experience. As Prof S Hicks pointed three Nobel Prize winners, as did many scholars supported Hitler and intellectuals such as G B Shaw and Sartre supported communists.

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
3 months ago
Reply to  j watson

I sense you may have been an Oxbridge reject HB?
I wasn’t educated in the UK. ‘Free movement of Labour and capital’ (ie: class war) as promoted by Clinton, Blair and all the rest, is right at the heart of neo-liberalism, as is the anti-democratic elitism that you’re so keen on.

jasper pike
jasper pike
3 months ago
Reply to  j watson

Both now hotbeds of neomarxism, never heard of that fan of the USSR Hobspawn?

R Wright
R Wright
3 months ago

All of this discussion is utterly pointless. It is well known even from basic law school courses on EU law that the EU Parliament is a nearly toothless bad joke. It is not a real legislature. It does not prepare legislation and essentially just exists to rubber stamp the decisions made by unelected EU Commission bureaucrats. The Commission and the infamously activist judiciary both are of far greater significance as EU institutions.

Until and unless the Commission is dominated by right wingers (which will realistically never happen by design) the EU will remain functionally identical – a project by and for socially liberal technocrats. Did you forget why the UK even voted to leave in the first place?

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
3 months ago
Reply to  R Wright

The greatest stroke of genius in the design of European institutions was to give the President of the Commission a veto over the appointment of Commissioners, thus ensuring that governments can only nominate candidates acceptable to the EU establishment whilst, at the same time, disguising the oligarchic nature of the process.

You’ve got to hand it to them …

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 months ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

With a long history of autocracy behind them, stretching from at least Louis XIV, Napoleon, Mussolini and Hitler*, how could it possibly be OTHERWISE?

(* And many other homicidal pygmies too numerous to mention.)

POSTED AT 09.44 GMT and immediately SIN BINNED probably for the use of the word HITLER.

Fabio Paolo Barbieri
Fabio Paolo Barbieri
3 months ago

Stupendous example of the abuse of factoids and out-of-context names to eviscerate history and downright lie. You were born for demagoguery, mendacity and Trumpery. Congratulations.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
3 months ago

Fabio that comment was not fab

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 months ago

Praise indeed sir! Praise indeed!

I rather hoped that my very brief critique would unearth some ‘eurotoad’, and so it has proved, I thank you.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
3 months ago

So, you dislike “Europe”. Britain is actually part of that (sub) continent in a very profound cultural way. It has been for many centuries.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

I enjoy the culture but abhor the politics.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
3 months ago

Brilliant comment, totally agree. Drinking a superb wine in Florence and visiting the Uffizi are wonderful, the sadistic politics of Sicily is horrific.
Cosa Nostra: A History of the Sicilian Mafia – smeikalbooks

jasper pike
jasper pike
3 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

Absurd deflection and you know it.

Carl Valentine
Carl Valentine
3 months ago

He has a point Chas old boy…

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 months ago
Reply to  Carl Valentine

A rather trite one.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
3 months ago

We seem to be able to read it……

You seem to have a rather distorted and simplistic view of European history, among other things lumping very different countries together. Mussolini wasn’t trying to conquer Europe. The history of post-Roman Empire Europe has been one of division and fragmentation, much more than a very few leaders trying to gain continental dominance.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

Even post 1648 it has been an unpleasant record but UnHerd is no longer the place for such discussion.

I note you seem to have calmed down a bit from the angry young ‘trot’ from Croydon. Well done, keep it up!

Norman Powers
Norman Powers
3 months ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

The institutional design doesn’t actually allow that. It’s not in the constitutional documents, if I recall. In theory the choice of each member state is final. What happens in reality is the President just promises to make any unliked Commisioner’s lives hell, and cut them out of everything if they don’t get the sort of person they want. It’s all back door rule breaking and bending, which sums up the whole EU game really. There are things written down, but nobody in power cares what the rules say so they are enforced only when politically convenient to do so.

Jonathan Story
Jonathan Story
3 months ago
Reply to  R Wright

Yes. The national states’ powers have been sucked away to Brussels. It legislates and everybody knows that it does so hand-in-glove with the multi-nationals. That legislation is then handed down to the states and rolled out. It is predictable that the turnout in national elections will fall away. It will then be time to abolish elections.

j watson
j watson
3 months ago
Reply to  R Wright

It’s not quite true is it, although a nice ‘comfort blanket’ bit of mythology for the anti-EU.
Following European elections, MEPs elect the next President of the European Commission (the EU’s executive body). Member States can nominate candidates for the post, but must factor in European election results. The largest European political party following the elections has the right to put a candidate forward for the Commission presidency on the Parliament’s behalf. The fact the Right wing parties will possibly be at loggerheads over this is one of the valid points Fazi raises. Hence much easier for Right to start blaming someone else…as usual…rather than sort out some differences, coalesce around a properly developed Policy platform (and Policy not simplistic slogan twaddle masquerading as properly considered Policy)

Mike Wylde
Mike Wylde
3 months ago
Reply to  j watson

But that didn’t happen last time did it? Vdl want the choice of the largest party, she was only the choice of France and Germany.

j watson
j watson
3 months ago
Reply to  Mike Wylde

Elected by the EU parliament. You just have to look it up and check out mythology you’ve accepted.
The fact the EU Parliament had large elements for French/German MEPs combine support for her is true, but elected she needed to be. The point in this Article is a combination of Right wing parties may be in a position to block/elect her successor, but the Author flagging they may struggle to find a common position.

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
3 months ago
Reply to  j watson

Can we have that again in English?

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
3 months ago
Reply to  j watson

The founders of the EEC always wanted to create a United States of Europe, Charlemagne MK2. In the period of 1945 to 1948 there were two fears, take over by communists and resurgence of far right. De Gaulle strengthened the French Civil Service by founding the ENA. Schuman et al created a bureaucratic oligarchy to prevent a communist or fascist party being elected to power and used French Civil Servants to run it.
Robert Schuman – Wikipedia
By the mid 1980s it was obvious the USSR was collapsing and the Euro Communists went to Gorbachev asked him what to do. Infiltrate and take over the EEC he replied. The collapse of communism saw former communist politicians such as Merkel andJ Barroso take over West European Parties. Ex Red Army Faction took over the German Green Party.
I suggest the divide is between the independent individual and the collective. People of the collective mindset can change to another collective mindset far more easily than a independent individual. One sees how communist became Nazis and Jesuits became Marxists.
The EU is result of the Democratic Conservatives and Socialists failing to thwart Nazis, Fascists and Communist in the 1920s and 1930s in Continental Europe. The will to defend the right to be a individual was sufficienlty strong in the English speaking countries to prevent the rise of Nazism, Fascism and Communism. The number of Communists and Fascists in Britain never exceeded 60,000 in the 1920s and 1940s. The Italian Communist party had 1.7M members.
Peter Shore’s Separate Ways is worth reading, even Shirley williams recommended it.
The EU is a collectivist bureaucratic oligarchy run by people scared of the past. They surrender freedom because they lack the will to  fight for it. Hanging on to nurse because of fearing  something worse as G K Chesterton put it.  

Santiago Excilio
Santiago Excilio
3 months ago
Reply to  j watson

Ohhh, Purrleeaasee! How many times in the history of the election of the EU Commission President has there EVER been more than ONE name on the ballot? Anyone?

j watson
j watson
3 months ago

To which the EU Parliament can reject and propose it’s own. That’s the constitution. The Right, and the Author here, running up the white flag as an excuse because they know they can’t all align on a common approach. ‘I can’t be an adult about a key decision so I’ll blame someone else first’. Pathetic really isn’t it?

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
3 months ago
Reply to  R Wright

Do you? We left because people were pissed off with Cameron’s government, on a rather vague notion of national sovereignty, and because of immigration!.(By the way, I support Brexit, but let’s not stop projecting issues of today to the past)

R Wright
R Wright
3 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

I did not vote Brexit to replace Romanian cleaners with Nigerian cleaners. I voted Brexit so I would return sovereignty back to the UK and end the supremacy of foreign laws. Now the incompetence of British leadership is exposed and cannot be blamed on Brussels, we can actually try and reform this sclerotic, failed country.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
3 months ago
Reply to  R Wright

Irrespective of which party has been in power The Establishment has become run by Kenneth Widmerpools, whose only desire is status .

Paddy Taylor
Paddy Taylor
3 months ago

Once again, I posted at midnight, but have woken up to find the comment has still not appeared, 8 hours later.

I love Unherd, but the commenting policies are getting markedly worse.

Please can the editors have a rethink

Paddy Taylor
Paddy Taylor
3 months ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

Oh, it briefly reappeared, 9 and a half hours later, but on refreshing the page it’s gone again!

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 months ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

Did you by any remote chance used the forbidden word HITLER?

Andrew R
Andrew R
3 months ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

An inoffensive comment of mine has disappeared for no reason.

Paddy Taylor
Paddy Taylor
3 months ago
Reply to  Andrew R

Not at all surprised.
Vanishing comments, weird zeroing of upvotes. Threads lost or repackaged out of sequence, thus rendering the debate as a series of non sequiturs.
What can we do about it? Few ATL writers appreciate (or want to believe) how much of the value of an online offering such as this can be found BTL.
Quillette found out – to its cost. A change in the commenting procedures killed Quillette Circle stone dead in weeks and cost them many, many subscribers.
In an attempt to shoo away non-subs from posting via Disqus, the Spectator has killed its comments section and destroyed a commenting community that had taken years to develop. After many years subscribing I find I visit the site less and less as a result of these needless changes.
I pray Unherd will address the issues because I value this site, not merely the articles I get ATL but the insights and arguments i read BTL, indeed I regard the comments as at least half of the appeal of the total offering.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 months ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

Completely agree.

Derek Conroy
Derek Conroy
3 months ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

As you say “Weird!’ I managed to zero dozens of upvotes but was then rewarded with up to 10 upvotes for every one!

Andrew R
Andrew R
3 months ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

I wonder if it’s something to do with their app? I’ll try using the web version to see if that’s any better.

Sayantani G
Sayantani G
3 months ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

I agree. I found some comments I wrote on a rather lunatic post by a swivel -eyed loon to be automatically marked ” spam” and ” vanished”!
Thought the aforementioned loon deserved that unique label more.

jasper pike
jasper pike
3 months ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

The Spectator has lost it’s way and me

Prashant Kotak
Prashant Kotak
3 months ago

“Thomas Fazi is an UnHerd columnist and translator”

“Translator”, is it?

Peter Principle
Peter Principle
3 months ago

‘Nor is there any guarantee that electing more Right-populist governments would create the conditions for “changing the EU from within”.’ That is a case that has to be argued, rather than baldly stated. Each member state gets a seat on the Council of the European Union (the “Council”). The Council can veto the legislative proposals of the European Commission. Also, the Council does hold the purse strings. So IF they have enough ba115, then they could pressure the Commission to produce legislation that suits the new political profile of the member states.

Red Reynard
Red Reynard
3 months ago

However, the Commission has a veto of prospective Council members; so, not quite so cut and dry.

Peter Principle
Peter Principle
3 months ago
Reply to  Red Reynard

That is not correct. The head of the Commission can veto prospective commissioners, but cannot veto Council members. Commissioners work in the Commission, not the Council. The Council members are effectively the member states, reoresented by prime ministers and presidents, or appropriate ministers for specialized neetings.

Micael Gustavsson
Micael Gustavsson
3 months ago
Reply to  Red Reynard

No, the comission has no veto on the council. The council is made up of the ministers of the elected national governments.

Mike Downing
Mike Downing
3 months ago

The EU will inevitably collapse in the end. The real question is how far gone will all the nations be by the time this happens ?

Cathy Carron
Cathy Carron
3 months ago

“the fundamental and irreconcilable incompatibility of the EU and democracy” says it all…

j watson
j watson
3 months ago
Reply to  Cathy Carron

Yes if you are Putin or Xi.
Democracy can be complicated. It ain’t a plebiscite every other day on every issue.

Fabio Paolo Barbieri
Fabio Paolo Barbieri
3 months ago

The reason why Salvini is in trouble is that he is an idiot. He has always been an idiot and he remains an idiot. Anyone who bets on him will lose. Meloni, on the other hand, is a crafty b***h who is always half a step ahead of everyone else. And you can take this to the bank. Whatever happens, Meloni will tend to win, and Salvini will increasingly tend to lose.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 months ago

What an interesting and measured comment.

Presumably you have had a good lunch and have thus ‘calmed down’ from your intemperate performance earlier today?

Jürg Gassmann
Jürg Gassmann
3 months ago

The sub-editor strikes again – the subtitle gives it all away:

The EU will never allow the populists to win

A triumph of democracy, surely. “The EU” – which here means unelected wannabe-Empress UvdL – and her bobble-head coterie of unelected commissioners will regime-change any government which voters had the effrontery to elect in defiance of UvdL’s diktat.
UvdL cannot be reappointed. Her tenure has been an unmitigated disaster, marked by her trade-mark incompetence, destructiveness, imperiousness, and corruption.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 months ago
Reply to  Jürg Gassmann

“Every cloud has a silver lining “, and UVD’s Shetland Pony recently provided a very ‘Green’ meal for Mrs & Mrs Wolf.

j watson
j watson
3 months ago

Fazi doing Putin’s work again. Groan… it’s not new is it.
In addition of course the classic ‘let’s get an excuse in first’ – despite possible/likely Right majority in EU Parliament nothing will change. Predictable. One assumes likes of Fazi at least now appreciating Populist ‘over-promising’ tends to rebound in time – example being Brexit.
Fazi et al conjure this anonymous entity that will scupper democracy. FSB and MSS couldn’t put it better.
Isn’t the fundamental though that Populism doesn’t have simple answers, despite repeatedly suggesting otherwise, and gets caught out quite quickly when it holds reins of power and comes face to face with realities. One suspects this is more why Meloni might have a more rounded view now on VDL.
In conclusion a Party’s interest in gratifying short term electoral demands can then clash with the need for a bit more strategic thinking to make effective long term policy. Populists not got good record on making the long term Policy decisions needed to underpin their promises – a good example being the promises to reduce immigration in UK but failure to make training, education, investment decisions that might help deliver that whilst also explaining the timescales to resolve and short term trade offs that may be needed. Populism is easy until you have to take responsibility.

Andrew R
Andrew R
3 months ago
Reply to  j watson

Any thoughts on the 30 years worth of technocratic incompetence such as mass immigration, that led to low investment, inadequate training and zero innovation in the first place? The two pointless North Africa adventures in Iraq and Libya. Anyone taken responsibility for these catastrophic failures? It appears all politicians are simply a bunch of rogue traders.

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
3 months ago
Reply to  j watson

Sorry jw, but I don’t think even you could claim that the world wasn’t in better shape in the 1990s before the boomer liberals took over with your voodoo economics, globalism and warmongering. All that populism represents is the desire of the vast majority of the population across the West to escape your dystopian clutches and return to those halcyon times.

jasper pike
jasper pike
3 months ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

JW fancies himself as one of the “elite”

jasper pike
jasper pike
3 months ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

And spouting common sense neccessarily makes you “far right”

Stephen Philip
Stephen Philip
3 months ago

Definition of “populist” appears to apply any politician who attempts to be politically popular but doesn’t comply with the leftist agenda. The BBC would never categorise Corbyn as populist but would happily categories any Tory or Reform politician as such were they to hit upon a policy that proved to be electorally advantageous.

Stephen Philip
Stephen Philip
3 months ago

Definition of “controversial” = any policy of which the BBC disapproves but doesn’t want to say so directly. Typically a policy advocated but a ‘populist’ politician. Thus the Rwanda policy is ‘controversial’ but not Joe Biden’s border policy.

Klive Roland
Klive Roland
3 months ago

The result is that populist parties, particularly in the eurozone, can afford to be radical only insofar as they are in opposition, but are forced to betray their electoral promises once they get into power.

I would say this is the essence of populism and even forms part of the definition.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
3 months ago

Gotta love how things like this are cast: opposition to a status quo that no one seems to like is, of course, ‘far right.’ Because what else could it be. And some differences of opinion on that flank must therefore be cased as evidence of a civil war. Calm down, Karen, er, Thomas.
Let’s go to the heart of things – the discontent with Queen Ursula and her minions. Perhaps that is the issue, not people who are broad-brushed as part of some sinister right-wing cabal which, by definition, spells grief and doom for the EU. Those groups are a response to discontent among the citizens; perhaps it’s time to see them as such and question if their concerns are valid.
The one thing power hates above all else is a challenge to its primacy. It’s true in the EU, it’s true in the Washington duopoly, it’s true everywhere. No one cares about the proles who have to work with the policies thrust upon them, except the people themselves and the few politicians aware enough to recognize the discontent.
Curiously buried in the last paragraph is what should be the lede: the real power in the EU is exercised elsewhere — in the Commission, in the Council, and in the European Central Bank.” And this is intentionally created by people who then fatuously talk about “our democracy.”

jasper pike
jasper pike
3 months ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

Which is why any opposition to the EU is labled ” Far Right” to frighten an apathetic populace

David Barnett
David Barnett
3 months ago

After experiencing decades of contempt from the ruling technocrats, totally out of touch with real people, is it any wonder that there will be political actors ready to exploit the long overdue backlash?
Even now, the technocrats could retrieve the situation with genuine contrition and humility, but they are too mediocre to do any such thing.

Walter Marvell
Walter Marvell
3 months ago

What a sorry mess!!! Majorities in EU-governed States, its Remainiac Legacy Province here in UK and probably the US too are united in resistance to the New Empire’s autocracy and its destructive 20 year top down ideological policies on energy/climate, demography and mass migration, indebted state finances and crippling taxation. Growth and enterprise have been throttled and we exist now in a doom looping continent with welfarist crisis and a general crisis of affordable living. Democracy and the ballot box offer majorities no way out. As with Gerd and post Brexit Britain, the ballot box results will yet again be meaningless. The Progressive State revolution successfully dismantled the power of national parliaments; unelected Quangos have emasculated the power of the Executive; Higher Laws and an active Supreme Judiciary sit above the national political fray, deploying their battery of rogue outdated International humanitarian and human rights laws to frustrate any deviation from the progressive way. And to cap all this numbing misery of impotence, the UK alone is set to empower the leftist progressives and provide rocket fuel to these insane unpopular credos simply to get shot of a Fake Tory party unable or unwilling to break the ironclad 30 year model.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 months ago
Reply to  Walter Marvell

The definitive statement on all was made nearly some two and a half centuries ago by the Earl of Chatham* in the House of Lords in 1763:-

THE POOREST MAN MAY IN HIS COTTAGE BID DEFIANCE TO ALL THE FORCES OF THE CROWN.
IT MAY BE FRAIL, ITS ROOF MAY SHAKE, THE WIND MAY BLOW THROUGH IT, THE STORM MAY ENTER, THE RAIN MAY ENTER, BUT THE KING OF ENGLAND MY NOT ENTER.
ALL HIS FORCE DARE NOT CROSS THE THRESHOLD OF THE RUINED TENEMENT.

All this, despite the odd revolution, is completely alien to the European, always has been and probably always will be.

(* Formerly William Pitt the ELDER, Mr David Yetter take note.)

Walter Marvell
Walter Marvell
3 months ago

Bravo Charles

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
3 months ago

Excellent comment. France has had the concept of Droit d’Administratif for centuries which means the government can do whatever it wants.

jasper pike
jasper pike
3 months ago
Reply to  Walter Marvell

Wow, spot on.

Peter Lee
Peter Lee
3 months ago

If you have missing comments, readers should go to <myaccount> <mycomments> and check to see if they are there, then we can determine whether it is a ‘moderation issue’ or a ‘computer processing’ issue.
NB <MyAccount> is found at the top right of the Unherd page.

Richard Calhoun
Richard Calhoun
3 months ago

Interesting, but in reality there are 2 elephants in the room, the Euro and the Debt.
The Euro with 20 fiscal centres is unsustainable, and the first financial crisis will in all likelihood centre around the Euro because of this massive weakness.
There will be carnage in Europe when the walls of the dam inevitably break.

Victor James
Victor James
3 months ago

Revolution, not populism. The last 100 years has been dominated by leftist revolutions. Time for a change.

Martin M
Martin M
3 months ago
Reply to  Victor James

Weren’t there some chaps in Spain, Italy and Germany in the 1930s who fit that bill?

C C
C C
3 months ago

The groups in the ECR are domesticated by Brussels

Anthony Roe
Anthony Roe
3 months ago

Great photograph.

Graeme Laws
Graeme Laws
3 months ago

This constant use of the term ‘populist’, frequently paired with ‘far right’, appears to be intended to mean ‘people who, in the unlikely event that they gained power, would not have the competence to wield it intelligently.’ All political parties are ‘populist’ in that they seek power by making outlandish promises which they know they can’t fulfil to specific interest groups. None of our lot appear to be value driven, which is perhaps why they deserve all the opprobrium they get.