Branch Point for the European Project
European parliamentary elections sent a shockwave throughout the EU’s political elite. In France and the United Kingdom, far-right Eurosceptic parties, namely Marine Le Pen’s National Front and Nigel Farage’s UKIP, won the popular vote by sizable margins and garnered one-third of their countries’ respective seats. Like-minded parties surged in Austria, Denmark, and Hungary as well. Right-wing parties capitalized on the widespread dissatisfaction with the path Europe has pursued since the financial crisis, when technocrats bailed out major financial institutions and then forced austerity policies at home. However, there were still glimmers of hope on election night. In Spain, Podemos, a new party formed by activists from the indignados movement, garnered 8% of the vote and 5 seats, and in Greece, the anti-austerity party Syriza came out on top with over one-quarter of the vote and 6 seats. As the continent struggles to undo the damage of the crisis, Europe stands at a branch point. Will it embrace the fortress mentality of the resurgent right and abandon the collective ideal of the European project? Or will we see a renewed commitment to a stronger EU better aligned with the principles of well-being, solidarity, and ecological sustainability?