We Should Probably Care About European Elections
If you haven’t noticed, things aren’t going too well in the U.S. right now. Michael Flynn just resigned as the National Security Adviser due to his conversations with the Russian ambassador, a man literally deemed too racist to serve as a federal judge was just confirmed as Attorney General and our president kind of asked a judge to catch him in court (???)
Given the current trajectory from Brexit to Trump, we’ve seen populist and nationalist tensions mounting, and this year, elections in the Netherlands, Germany, and France have the power to dictate what direction the world will (continue to?) take.
The Netherlands is gearing up for an election on March 15th, and polls have put Geert Wilders, a nationalist from the Party for Freedom, in first. His party preaches anti-Muslim rhetoric, and he himself was in court at the end of 2016 for demeaning speech against the Dutch Moroccan community. He’s written a book about Islam’s “war against the West and me”, and has a terrible hairstyle and bad fashion sense likening him to the Willy Wonka to our Oompa Loompa.
New polls are showing that 64% of Germans are in favor of a new chancellor. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that Germany is taking a far right direction like many of their neighbors. Martin Schulz, the former president of the European Parliament, is a huge supporter of the European Union (duh) and has a pretty decent reddit following à la Bernie Sanders. And he’s currently pulling ahead in the polls.
And finally...France. The French election process is complicated enough without even looking at the current political environment in Europe, globally, and domestically. For the left, France’s current president, François Hollande, isn’t running again due to his abysmally low approval rating. His former Prime Minister, Manuel Valls, resigned so that he could run for the Socialist Party’s primary, and then lost to Benoît Hamon, who wants to legalize weed and tax robots (yes, really). And then there’s Emmanuel Macron, the former minister of the economy, who founded his own political party in order to run. He’s in favor of a free market, wants to take in more refugees, and called colonialism a crime against humanity.
For the right, François Fillon won the center-right primary, but has come under fire the last few weeks for paying his wife somewhere around $500,000 as an assistant during his parliamentary career despite not having an official position. He’s not showing signs that he will resign, but it may affect his campaign as it moves forward. Marine Le Pen, the National Front candidate, is still generally insufferable by all accounts and will likely pass to the second tour. Both are besties with Putin and generally supportive of hard-line social policies that are generally anti-Islam and anti-refugee.
So what does this mean for Americans/the world/people who want to avoid destruction of the planet as we know it?
Best case scenario, Geert Wilders somehow loses, Germany continues on their liberal trajectory (it’s almost like they see the danger of electing nationalist candidates who incite hatred against religious groups), and France goes for Hamon/Macron. The EU stays together enough, we find some way to take in refugees from everywhere while simultaneously finding a solution in Syria, Russia stops messing with everyone else’s national security, and we all get double chocolate cupcakes.
Absolutely not going to be the case, but a girl can dream, right? In short, there’s not much we can do as Americans short of commit voter fraud to ensure that continental Europe doesn’t fall down the same hole we did. The best thing we can do is encourage the flow of information to our friends across the Atlantic, and hope they figure it out before they go our route.