Following the recent elections in Moldova and Bulgaria, I created a map with states in Europe that have a pro-Russian government / president, have in power a nationalist-conservative government, or have in their Parliaments a small but emerging nationalist-conservative representation. The situation is dire!
There are a few points to be taken from this map. First, we can see that there is a rising pro-Russian wall emerging at the extreme East of the EU. Bulgaria joined Moldova to elect openly pro-Russian presidents. For Moldova this is a clear steer away from EU, signalling a failure of Brussels to help Moldova take an European path. This could be an irreversible push away from integration with the West. Bulgaria is an EU member, therefore the election of a pro-Russian doesn’t automatically mean a rejection of Western values. It just shows the failure of the former government to tackle rampant corruption. Bulgaria also derailed from the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism targets in the battle with corruption.
Second, Hungary and Poland succumbed to anti-immigration and extremely conservative rhetoric. Both countries have historically low immigration rates and high emigration rates, thus making the situation a paradox. One of the explanation of the rise of this type of parties is the relative bargaining power acquired by those countries at the European Union table through opposition to the open doors policy backed by the current German government. By rejecting immigration quotas, those countries have managed to coagulate internal support. This support had a spillover effect resulting in the promotion of other conservative measures, like anti-abortion bans.
Many Western countries are facing increased pressure from far-right parties gaining traction in elections or opinion polls. The UK has already succumbed to the anti-immigration rhetoric, however the far-right UKIP has managed to keep its emerging status and not develop enough support to form a government. The UK is very conservative regarding its current politics, however even May’s push for Brexit can be considered moderate when compared to the UKIP discourse. The UK remains emerging national-conservative and strong eurosceptic hence the light blue colour on the map. France’s National Front faces a big boost offered by Brexit and Trump’s election and might deliver a surprise in the up and coming presidential elections. Germany’s AfD also gained traction in states that have lagged economically and got a surprising score in regional elections, defeating Merkel’s party in her own land. This might signal the end of Merkel’s career as the head of the state and might make room for a more conservative chancellor that would curb migration and cut down benefits for refugees. Austria and Switzerland also have considerable representation from far-right parties in their parliaments.
Romania will have parliamentary elections in December. There are two possible outcomes: a social-democrat government, or a liberal party forming the government. The good side is that no matter who will win, both parties have a strong pro-EU orientation. In a sea of uncertainty, Romania will prove to be a constant: high economic growth for 4 years in a row, an acceleration of the anti-corruption measures, an increasing civic responsibility among the young people. What we can do now is hope that the far-right will not gain more support and things will find a way to get back to normal. Of course, for this to happen we will need an acute reform of the EU.