There’s a much bigger problem in the EU than the rise of the far right

Millions of voters across Europe no longer think the EU represents their interests. There are two things it must do

For at least the third European election in a row the EU was destined to be overwhelmed by a surging far right. Or, at least, that’s what the panicked headlines of much of Europe’s political commentary predicted in the run-up to last weekend’s elections.

However, once again, newspaper headline writers everywhere were disappointed by the more prosaic results. The centre-right European People’s Party (EPP) increased its seats while the centre-left Socialists and Democrats group (S&D) remained stable. Rather than the political centre weakening, it was the progressive side of the chamber (Liberals and Greens) that haemorrhaged support (up to 40 seats) – a trend particularly apparent among younger voters in France and Germany.

The unpalatable reality is that it was these losses that drove the gains on the harder-right aisle of the European Parliament. The centre didn’t break; the progressives lost the fight.

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