Europe

Gavin Mortimer

A left-wing government would spell tragedy for France

It has been the craziest week in French politics for decades but for the Republic’s police it’s business as usual. On Tuesday night, they were called to the Trocadero in the centre of Paris to search for four individuals who had violently mugged three Americans. Four youths of Moroccan origin, the youngest of whom was 11, were taken into custody. A day later in Marseille, a known drug dealer was gunned down in what police believe was a tit-for-tat killing between rival cartels. A few hours later, in the same city, a man was shot dead by police after he had thrown a Molotov cocktail at officers. The left’s philosophy

Gavin Mortimer

Macron has unleashed political chaos on France

It is difficult to see how France will emerge from next month’s election peacefully. Flames are licking at the edges of the Republic and the man who lit the tinder was Emmanuel Macron when he called a snap election for 30 June and 7 July. Macron held a most unpresidential press conference on Wednesday in which he lashed out at his enemies but offered no explanation as to why he reacted the way he did on Sunday evening. There are some in France who believe it was a temper tantrum. Emmanuel Macron has suffered few humiliations in his effortless rise to the top. Sunday’s battering in the European Elections was

Jonathan Miller

Can Macron still outplay Le Pen?

Petulance, panic and performance. President Macron’s broadcast following the evisceration of his party in last weekend’s elections for the European parliament had elements of all three. Wearing a black tie as if in mourning, he looked shocked, exhausted and angry. ‘The rise of the nationalists and demagogues,’ he said, ‘is a threat not only to our nation but also to our Europe and to France’s place in Europe and in the world… The extreme right is both the impoverishment of the French people and the downfall of our country. So at the end of this day, I can’t pretend that nothing has happened. I decided to give you the choice.

John Keiger

France’s future looks far from certain

The much loved and quintessentially French singer, Françoise Hardy, born in 1944, died last night. French certainties are disappearing. The Fifth Republican regime could be next. President Macron’s stunning decision on Sunday night to dissolve the National Assembly in the wake of the remarkable victory of the Rassemblement National (RN) in the European elections is likely to turn a political crisis into a crisis of regime.  Following Macron’s 2022 re-election, devoid of a working majority, France entered a slow-building crisis. The fall-out continues to contaminate the political life of the country. After the agonising demise of the Socialist party, yesterday saw the implosion of the Republican party, the Gaullists who

Gavin Mortimer

Can a ragtag coalition stop Marine Le Pen?

The left in France may not be much good at winning elections but they are excellent when it comes to forming coalitions. Within 24 hours of Emmanuel Macron’s shock announcement on Sunday night of a snap election on 30 June, left-wing parties made a declaration of their own. A coalition of Communists, Socialists, Greens and the far-left La France Insoumise (LFI) – similar to the one formed for the 2022 parliamentary elections – would fight the election in a coalition called ‘The Popular Front’. Prime minister Gabriel Attal described his former party’s decision to ally with LFI as ‘revolting’ The first such ‘Popular Front’ in France was created in 1936

Why didn’t Geert Wilders do as well as Marine Le Pen?

‘We are really by far the biggest winner this evening,’ said Geert Wilders, leader of the Dutch far-right Party for Freedom (PVV), when the European election exit polls were published last week. But although the Netherlands was first to go to the polls – with strong indications that the far right would be victorious – his ‘win’ fell short of the storming result of Marine Le Pen’s National Rally, which has sparked a political earthquake in France. Wilders, an anti-Islam, anti-immigration politician, surprised everyone in the country, including himself, when his PVV became the largest political party in the Netherlands in November. A man who has lived with 24/7 security for two decades is currently putting together a

Gavin Mortimer

How France’s shy Le Pen voters caused a political earthquake

Emmanuel Macron visited Oradour-sur-Glane on Monday to mark the 80th anniversary since the village in central France was liquidated by SS troops. Laying a wreath at the site where 643 Frenchmen, women and children were massacred, the president of the Republic declared that: ‘We will remember Oradour, always, so that history never starts again’. That was a veiled reference to the success of Marine Le Pen’s National Rally, which crushed the opposition in Sunday’s European elections. In 96 of France’s 101 Departments, the National Rally – led by Jordan Bardella – came out top, and their triumph in France’s towns and villages was overwhelming. Villages such as the rebuilt Oradour sur

The EU election spells trouble for Ukraine

If one story dominates the cacophony of results of the European election from across the 27 countries of the Union, it is the defeat of incumbents in the EU’s largest member states: France and Germany. While their underperformance was expected, its aftershocks risk leaving Europe weak and ineffectual in the face of Russian aggression in Ukraine.  It is hard to see how Macron or Scholz will become bolder in their Ukrainian positions in the coming months In France, president Emmanuel Macron responded to the poor performance of his party, Renaissance, by calling a snap election for 30 June – less than two weeks before Nato’s summit in Washington.  The logic

The establishment triumphed in Spain’s elections

Spain’s Conservative Popular party (PP) came first in Sunday’s EU elections, upping its share of seats in the European parliament from 13 to 22 – with 34 per cent of the vote. The Socialists (PSOE), represented by energy minister Teresa Ribera, avoided the drubbing many had predicted, coming second with 20 seats.   Between them, the PP and PSOE have won enough seats to dominate smaller parties for the duration of this EU parliament A large gap separates these two frontrunners from smaller left- and right-wing groups, Catalan separatists and a curious new addition to Spain’s political scene. These parties secured between two and six seats in the new EU legislature. The

John Keiger

The EU may struggle to find its way out of this election crisis

It is said that the EU thrives on crises. These are what spurs it on to the ultimate goal of wider and deeper integration. But yesterday’s European election results may be a crisis too far. Unlike its predecessors, this election has returned nine or so large Eurosceptic national parties intent on arresting the march towards ever-closer union. The nationalist and identitarian right, while by no means a majority in the new European parliament, is in a commanding position to seriously influence the EU’s future direction. According to the Bertelsmann Foundation’s European expert, quoted in Le Monde, the EU is entering ‘its most decisive phase in its 70 year history’. In the

Sinn Fein’s immigration stance has blown up in its face

It’s been three days since Ireland went to the ballot box to decide the local and European elections and, much to consternation of pretty much everyone, we’re still waiting for the final results. The exit polls though show a remarkable collapse in support for Sinn Fein. Mary Lou McDonald’s attempts to become respectable with the overwhelmingly liberal and middle-class Dublin mediocracy quite simply blew up in her face This has been a rancorous and remarkably bad-tempered campaign. The rise in popularity in the polls of supposedly anti-immigrant parties such as Irish Freedom and Ireland First (neither of which even existed when we had the last local, European and general elections)

Fraser Nelson

The truth about the rise of the ‘far right’ in Europe

‘The rise of nationalists and demagogues is a danger for our nation but also for Europe,’ said Emmanuel Macron as he announced his general election. Strong talk, as befits his newly-called general election campaign but is that really what has just happened? Look closely and the results are more nuanced – and more interesting.  If anything, we can see the taming of some populist shrews. In France, Le Pen’s National Rally hit 30 per cent only after her long attempt to detoxify, mellowing her agenda and, recently, kicking the AfD out of her European Parliament grouping. The fresh-faced Jordan Bardella, 28, was the face of Le Pen’s Euro campaign. Macron’s snap election is perhaps intended

Lisa Haseldine

Olaf Scholz’s party suffers worst EU election defeat as AfD surges

The mood in Olaf Scholz’s SPD party headquarters in Berlin is despondent this morning. The German Chancellor’s party won just 13.9 per cent in the European elections – placing them third in the country and a full two percentage points behind the far-right AfD party. The SPD hasn’t done this badly in a national vote since 1949 – and the result comes less than 18 months until Germany holds its federal election. SPD Leader Lars Klingbeil called it a ‘bitter defeat’. ‘There is no way to sugarcoat it,’ he said. ‘I think it is crystal clear that things have to change.’ The SPD hasn’t done this badly in a national

Gavin Mortimer

French voters have delivered a damning verdict on Macron

I sensed something significant was going to unfold on Sunday as I took my morning coffee at our village café. Enjoying the June sunshine I watched as a steady stream of men and women walked past on their way to the voting booth in the village hall. Forty-eight per cent of them cast their ballot for Jordan Bardella of the National Rally. The next best was Valerie Hayer, representing president Macron’s party; she managed 12 per cent. The people chose Macron, and got chaos The voter turnout in my village in Burgundy was 60 per cent, an eight per cent increase on the 2019 elections and 17 per cent superior

John Keiger

Macron is trying to scare French voters into rejecting Le Pen’s party

The French presidential list score in the European elections ‘is not a good result for the parties which defend Europe’. So declared president Macron euphemistically on television last night to the French nation, as he called a snap election to be held on 30 June and 7 July. Official results published this morning show the Rassemblement National (RN) has romped home on 31.47 per cent. Macron’s party is in a lamentable second place on 14.56 per cent (way behind its 22.4 per cent in 2019) and very closely tailed by the moderate socialist Raphaël Glucksmann on 13.8 per cent. These European election results are a severe personal defeat for Macron

Gavin Mortimer

Macron’s snap election is his biggest gamble yet

Emmanuel Macron tonight dissolved France’s National Assembly and announced there will be new parliamentary elections with the first round of voting on 30 June and the second round a week later. The president made an unscheduled appearance on television one hour after exit polls declared a crushing victory for the National Rally in the European elections. Marine Le Pen’s party, whose election campaign was run by the 28-year-old president Jordan Bardella, is predicted a score of between 32 and 33.3 per cent, more than twice that of Macron’s representative, Valerie Hayer. She trailed a distant second on a projected 15 per cent, just ahead of the Socialist Raphaël Glucksmann. The

Lara Prendergast

The Farage factor

45 min listen

This week: The Farage factor. Our cover piece looks at the biggest news from this week of the general election campaign, Nigel Farage’s decision to stand again for Parliament. Farage appealed to voters in the seaside town of Clacton to send him to Westminster to be a ‘nuisance’. Indeed, how much of a nuisance will he be to Rishi Sunak in this campaign? Will this boost Reform’s ratings across Britain? And could it be eighth time lucky for Nigel? The Spectator‘s political editor Katy Balls joins the podcast to discuss, alongside former Clacton and UKIP MP, Douglas Carswell (2:32). Then: Gavin Mortimer reports from France ahead of the European and local

Lisa Haseldine

Olaf Scholz unveils Germany’s deportation plans

‘Anyone who threatens our freedom and disturbs our peace should be afraid.’ That was Olaf Scholz’s message today as he stood up in the Bundestag to announce that foreigners who commit serious crimes in Germany are no longer welcome in the country – even if they are refugees or asylum seekers.  The Chancellor announced that the German Ministry of the Interior is drawing up plans to make it easier to deport foreign-born dangerous individuals and serious criminals to their home countries, even if they come from warzones or countries controlled by authoritarian regimes such as Afghanistan and Syria. ‘Such criminals should be deported – even if they come from Syria

Gavin Mortimer

Marine Le Pen and Jordan Bardella are slowly conquering France

Marine Le Pen’s National Rally – formerly the National Front – is expected to triumph for a third time running in the European elections this weekend. The party topped the poll last time, in 2019, and in 2014. But its principal candidate, five years ago and today, is not the 55-year-old Le Pen but the youthful Jordan Bardella, whose story tells us a lot about the changing nature of the French right. The son of Italian immigrants, Bardella, 28, grew up on a housing estate in Seine-Saint-Denis, an impoverished area north of Paris. While Le Pen appeals to the middle-aged electorate, Bardella is the star attraction for younger voters. French

Lisa Haseldine

The European elections will test the AfD’s strength

As Olaf Scholz gathers alongside other European leaders on the beaches of Northern France tomorrow to commemorate 80 years since the allied invasion of Normandy, the German Chancellor may have another D-Day in mind. Tomorrow morning, the polls open across the continent for the European parliamentary elections.  Over the coming three days, voters in each EU member state will vote for candidates put forward by their home country’s national parties. The natural result of this model is that voters tend to cast their ballots based on domestic concerns, rather than what those MEPs might necessarily be able to do for them in Brussels. As such, for Scholz and his traffic

Gavin Mortimer

The political appropriation of D-Day

If there is one place to avoid this week it is Normandy. The global elite are in town to commemorate the 80th anniversary of D-Day. Along with as many as 25 world leaders there will be upwards of 12,000 of their security staff invading this normally sleepy part of Northern France. In addition, 43,000 gendarmes, police and military personnel will be deployed on land, sea and in the air. A restricted traffic zone will be place throughout the region, and residents are being advised to stay at home on Thursday and Friday. Some schools will be closed on those days because of the disruption. The Normandy American Cemetery, resting place of

The airport dividing Poland’s politicians

In 2017, the Polish government set out to build one of the largest airports in Europe on the outskirts of Warsaw. The project, known as the Central Communication Port, or CPK, was meant to combine a new international airport with a high speed railway network, connecting the Polish capital and the country’s peripheral regions. With the austerity of the communist era fading from memory, the CPK has come to symbolise the rapid development of Poland, a nation which has risen from political obscurity to become the EU’s sixth largest economy and one of Nato’s strongest military powers. Following last year’s parliamentary elections, and the subsequent change of government, conflicting visions