It’s hard to believe that it’s already been a year since this blog’s first post. It’s also impressive how quickly things have changed in Europe since last October. At that time, elites were still trying to prevent the British government from triggering Article 50, and little Wallonia was holding up the EU’s trade deal with Canada. Barack Obama was still in office, making his farewell tour through Europe a few weeks after the election of his successor.
In 2017, key elections were held in six countries, starting with the Netherlands. Not only did Dutch voters expand the parliamentary representation of sitting eurosceptic parties, but new parties opposing ever-closer union entered parliament for the first time.
Then came France. Remarkably, just under fifty percent of votes in the presidential election’s first round were for eurosceptic parties. This was largely eclipsed in public discourse by Emmanuel Macron’s victory in the second round, but it indicates that France remains among the continent’s most eurosceptic countries.
In the UK, Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty had already been triggered by the time its citizens went to the polls in June. The governing Conservatives maintained their mandate with the help of the pro-Brexit DUP. Importantly, the Scottish National Party lost more than a third of its seats, greatly weakening its incoherent position against Brexit but in favour of Scottish independence.
2017 also saw Germany come to terms with euroscepticism in its federal election. Between strong results for the socialist Left Party, the anti-immigration AfD, and the anti-fiscal union FDP, Angela Merkel’s governing Christian Democrats won a pyrrhic victory, and will be hamstrung in any future negotiations for increased EU powers.
Most recently, Austrians and Czechs boosted eurosceptic parties in elections this month. In both countries, the likeliest candidates to lead governing coalitions have expressed a dislike for European centralization, and are ready to act unilaterally on migration if needed.
So much more remains to happen or evolve, from ongoing tribulations in Catalonia to slow progress in Brexit negotiations. A number of important elections are just over the horizon too. European integration has emerged largely despite the ballot box, and one election at a time, democracy will prove to be its undoing.
Thanks to your support, dear readers, The Eurosceptic will continue to cover important events, introduce new arguments, and defend the right of all peoples to self-determination.