With result of the Brexit, many have been questioning the future of the European Union, and whether it can sustain itself after such a largely important member has voted to leave. Since the historic vote, Nigel Farage, and his United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) has gotten large amounts of media coverage for spearheading the campaign to leave. While they remain a small minority party with only one seat in the House of Commons, and three in the House of Lords, UKIP has become more discussed than ever. Whether they can have any impact on Theresa May's new government remains to be seen, but Farage and UKIP has become a formidable political voice in the fight against the European Union. UKIP's success in pushing the Brexit vote has allowed Eurosceptic parties in other countries to gain more support. Not all these parties share the same ideology, and many are more radical than others, but all of them share the same desire to leave the European Union. Whether you like them or not, these parties are becoming more of a prominent voice in the political spectrum of Europe and may lead to other exits from the EU, leading many to wonder whether the union has much longer to live.
The European Union, which began as an economic trade union has grown into an overbearing oligarchic superstate, whose unelected 28 member European Commission dictates the laws of the EU. The directly elected European Parliament, on the other hand has no power in the creation or repealing of legislation, and in reality is little more than a rubber stamp parliament. The binding EU laws passed by the Commission supersede that of the national laws of member states. The types of regulations implemented on member states have crippled economic growth and have disallowed new businesses to grow and flourish. The Commission has mandated security laws, environmental laws, food safety laws, and many other forms of legislation that the citizens of each nation have no say over. If an unelected oligarchical body of bureaucrats has complete power over 28 nations, are those nations really sovereign?
In various European nations, a recent surge in support of conservative populist, Eurosceptic parties has taken place. On top of the distaste for EU regulations, the large number of migrants coming from war torn countries like Syria, Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan to the European continent in droves have created an entirely new issue for the nations of Europe to deal with. This has overwhelmed many of the citizens of these countries with a humanitarian crisis to the point where they fear that their culture, traditions and way of life are being threatened. The rise in terror attacks, sexual assaults, and riots have caused many to be concerned about the future of their nations, yet the bureaucrats in Brussels and the members states' national capitals seem to ignore that they are inviting a massive security threat into the borders of their nations. On top of this, Brussels has implemented mandatory migrant quotas for member states to accept, which has led to the ire of many. The migrant crisis, on top of all the other EU policies that have been smothering the nations of Europe have led to the rise of new political parties and movements that wish to pave a new path for Europe. These Eurosceptic parties differ in many of their aspects, but they all share a large distaste for EU policies and are concerned about the rising threat of radical Islam in Europe.
Recently, in Germany the new Alternative for Germany (AfD) party has been gaining precedence. The AfD has garnered 12.9% of the popular vote and now holds a total of 145 seats as of September 2016 in 10 of the 16 German states. The AfD, only having been formed three years ago has made great strides in fighting back against Angela Merkel's seemingly limitless migration policy. Its anti-migrant tone has resonated with many Germans who fear that their country will be torn apart by the recent Islamic terror attacks, riots and sexual assaults, many of which have been committed by Islamic migrants. While their anti-immigration stance is their main issue, they also are very Eurosceptic, supportive of free market economic policies and very socially conservative. This is in stark contrast to the direction that Germany's leading political parties have taken. The AfD still has no seats in the Bundstag, Germany's Parliament, but seeing the fast growth of the party, we could see them taking seats at the national level in a very short time.
Another Party making headlines is the Dutch Party for Freedom (PVV) in the Netherlands, led by Geert Wilders, whose anti-Islam policy proposals have led him to much media coverage and disdain from the left. He has made statements calling for the shutting down of all mosques, banning of the Quran, and and end to further Islamic immigration. The PVV's platform also calls for leaving the EU and the borderless Schengen Area, the abandonment of the Euro currency and return to the Dutch Guilder. It wants to implement tax cuts, decentralization, and the limiting of government subsidies. It also has called for the protection of the Jewish and LGBT communities from Islamic attacks and takes a staunchly pro-Israel stance. A pivotal national election will take place next March, which election polls show The PVV tied with Prime Minister Mark Rutte's center-right People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD). If the PVV it wins, it will become the largest party in the Netherlands, possibly making Geert Wilders the next Prime Minister. If this is the case, we could very well see a NEXIT in the not too distant future.
In Austria, the Austrian Freedom Party (FPO) has grown to possibly become the next ruling party in the nation. It holds similar views to that of the PVV in the Netherlands and the AfD in Germany, and has called for its own referendum on leaving the EU if it continues to become more centralized. This spring, a presidential election took place this spring with the Green Party candidate, Alexander Van der Bellen narrowly winning against the FPO's candidate, Norbert Hofer in the second round of voting. Van der Bellen squeaked by with 50.3% of the vote to Hofer's 49.7%, claiming victory by only 30,863 votes. However an appeal was made by the FPO to the country's constitutional court with the claim that voter fraud had occurred. The court found this to be true, and a third round of voting is to take place this December. The interesting aspect of the election's aftermath is Hofer has been selected as part of a three-person interim presidency until December's election takes place. Polls between Van der Bellen and Hofer remain exceedingly tight, but with the migrant crisis a looming issue, as well as other countries taking measure to fight back against the EU’s dominance, Austria could very well see a victory from the FPO.
In France, the National Front (FN), led by Marine Le Pen is also gaining strength in France's political spectrum. The FN is a socially conservative, nationalist political party whose goals include leaving the EU, Schengen area and implementing strict immigration policies. On the economic front, FN leans more to the left with strong economically protectionist policies, but also has vowed to reduce taxes. Le Pen has promised to hold a 'FREXIT' if she is elected President of France in next year's elections. Recent polling has showed that she would most certainly advance to the second round of voting. The elections don't begin until next April, but that is a long time from now. It's too soon to tell whether Le Pen will be able to win the presidency, but even if she doesn't, the FN has gained a large amount of support largely because of the recent migrant crisis and numerous terror attacks in France.
In Hungary, Fidesz, a national and socially conservative party is the ruling party of the country. Its leader, Viktor Orban is the Prime Minister of Hungary. Fidesz while not having expressly called for leaving the EU, is a 'soft Eurosceptic' party, which is in opposition to many of the policies of the EU, but not the EU itself. The most recent issue between Brussels and Budapest is the latter's response to the border crossings by migrants into Hungary, trying to reach Germany and the Scandinavian nations. Hungary has established a razor wire border fence between itself and its neighbors Croatia and Serbia. After months of an wave of migrants flowing into the country with no end in sight and leaving Hungary with a major humanitarian crisis on their hands, last fall Prime Minister Orban ordered the construction of a border fence to keep further migrants from entering the country. He also has increased armed border security along the fence to ensure that this new barrier would remain intact.The construction of the barrier has been met with criticism from Brussels and various multinational human rights groups, but Orban refuses to budge. In fact, on October 2nd, Hungary held a referendum on whether to accept the EU's migrant quotas. The results showed that 98.3% of the votes were against mandatory migrant quotas implemented by the EU Commission. Prime Minister Orban’s mostly left-wing opponents and critics claimed that the vote was invalid, as the voter turnout was only 43.8% (3.6 million voters) of the Hungarian electorate, under the 50% threshold required for a referendum to be valid. However, the decision to join the EU in 2003 was also under the 50% turnout requirement, yet the country still went through and joined the union. Orban and his Fidesz Party have claimed the result as a sweeping victory and the PM has promised to alter the Hungarian Constitution to recognize the results of the vote. The overwhelming rejection of migrant quotas implemented by the Brussels is another major blow to the legitimacy of the EU.
These five examples are only a few of the many Eurosceptic parties in the member states of the EU. Other prominent parties include the Sweden Democrats, the Danish People's Party (DPP), the Finnish Finns Party (whose leader Timo Soini is the current Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister of Finland) and the ruling party of Poland, The Law and Justice Party (PiS), who have also fought back against Brussels by refusing to take a single refugee during the crisis. The rise in popularity in many of these parties and their policies, especially the ones in power within their countries, may prove to weaken the EU even further. The possibility of some or many of these parties coming to power in their respective countries is a high possibility, and may continue the domino effect that was started by the Brexit. The EU's overbearing policies as well as the migrant crisis and an increase in Islamic terror attacks have lead to a sharp increase in support of these parties, which were once fringe groups while the centrist and socialist parties flourished. As a result of the policies implemented by the EU bureaucrats and their supporters, a new political movement may threaten the power they hold over Europe.