European Union’s Democracy Dilemma

Exclusive: The European elites want the European Union as a means for controlling the Continent’s economies, but that often requires overriding the popular will of nation states, a dilemma for “democracy,” explains Andrew Spannaus.

By Andrew Spannaus

A sigh of relief was heard across Europe on Sunday night, as far-right candidate Marine Le Pen was beaten soundly in the French presidential runoff election, losing to centrist Emmanuel Macron 66 percent to 34 percent.

Marine Le Pen, French presidential candidate from the rightist Front National.

Le Pen had come in a close second to Macron in the first round of voting two weeks earlier, less than three points back (24 percent to 21.3 percent) in a crowded field that also included conservative Francois Fillon (20 percent) and leftist Jean-Luc Mélenchon (19.6 percent) among the top vote-getters.

Le Pen capitalized on the anti-establishment fervor sweeping the Western world to challenge for the top spot with a strong critique of financial globalization and the European Union (E.U.), mixed in with her party’s historical message of nationalism with racist overtones. Together with Mélenchon, the first round saw over 40 percent of the votes go to these “extreme” candidates, indicating the presence of widespread dissatisfaction with the political élites and their current economic and social policies.

The fear among European political institutions was that Le Pen’s anti-E.U. message would either carry her to the presidency or at least call into question France’s adherence to the institutions that have transferred large chunks of sovereignty from the single nations of Europe to a supranational bureaucracy.

Macron, on the other hand, defended the E.U. despite recognizing widespread disaffection regarding European institutions. He stressed the need to restore confidence in the Union, while adopting a peculiar argument about how Europe is actually the best instrument to defend the sovereignty of its member states.

His decisive victory in the runoff election, although somewhat tainted by record levels of abstention and blank or spoiled ballots, is causing optimism among pro-E.U. politicians, who are…

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