Europe votes — the votes, the voice?

One of the most important aspects of the election will be the process of choosing who gets the top EU jobs, such as the role of Commission President, with Bloomberg indicating Ursula von der Leyen as the favorite to remain in the position.

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Voting in the Netherlands kicked off four days of elections for the EU parliament across the 27 EU member states.

From news to politics, travel to sport, and culture to climate, the press cameras have captured the mood of the people in the nation-states of the European Union to suit the public’s interests.

The EU elections are the world’s second-biggest exercise in democracy behind the election in India, as 373 million people go to the polls. It will matter how voters vote on climate change and migration, greater integration or increased nationalism.

Europeans are voting in an election that will have a wide impact across the European Union and beyond, over four days from 6th to 9th June 2024. With an election budget of EURO 189 billion (£160 bn), 373 million voters are choosing the next European Parliament of 720 members – the direct link between the people of the European Union and their European institutions.

The EU Parliament is one of three main political institutions, along with the EU Council, which represents the 27 national governments of member states, and the EU Commission, the Brussels-based executive arm. Only the European Commission can formally propose new laws, either on its own initiative or after requests by other EU institutions.

One of the most important aspects of the election will be the process of choosing who gets the top EU jobs, such as the role of Commission President, with Bloomberg indicating Ursula von der Leyen as the favorite to remain in the position.

But as Europe turns to the right, it faces a new reality, with polls suggesting populist gains in the election, which could lead to significant policy changes, such as continued support for troops in Kyiv as they battle President Putin’s forces.

Giorgia Meloni, 47, an Italian populist and neo-fascist, who leads Italy’s right-wing “Brothers of Italy” party, favors French nationalist Marine Le Pen over the customary close relationship with French President Emmanuel Macron. She has a cordial relationship with P.M. Sunak, as she maintains a hardline immigration policy similar to Rwanda’s, involving Albania.

The likes of Hungarian P.M. Viktor Orbán’s Fidesz party and Austria’s Freedom Party, both far-right outfits, are on track to emerge victorious in the polls.

In Latvia, voters seem more focused on strengthening defenses and military capabilities, as well as border security, as a result of the war in Ukraine.

In the Netherlands, the result already announced is that the far-right party of Geert Wilders (anti-Muslim populist party) only managed second place, in part due to many voters being absent and apathetic.

The Current Parliament of the EU

There are seven political blocs in the present EU Parliament. The largest is the center-right European People’s Party (EPP), an alliance of 84 parties whose members include Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, together with Socialists and Centrist Liberal Renew, who hold an absolute majority in Parliament.

They are expected to retain their majority, but with a projected margin to be much smaller.

While the EU’s right-wing parties vary greatly in their beliefs, they tend to agree on restricting migration, reducing centralized control, altering the rule of law, and rolling back European initiatives aimed at slowing down climate change.

Future of the European Union

The future of the EU depends on various factors, including cultural diversity and issues related to populism, security, increased membership, threats to the euro, destabilized regions in relation to Russia, and life with AI and digital innovation.

Labour leader of Britain, Keir Starmer, insists: “We can’t go back on Brexit, but we can get a better deal.” On the other hand, if one European country may consider a scenario similar to Brexit, many reckon it will be Meloni’s Italy.

Victor Cherubim

Victor Cherubim is a London-based writer and a frequent columnist of the Sri Lanka Guardian

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