The Right Coast

June 17, 2004
 
Euro-Scepto
By Maimon Schwarzschild

Most of the European governing parties did humiliatingly badly in last week's European Parliament elections, very much including Chiraq's party in France and Schroeder's in Germany. Former President Nixon tells Bill Safire (NY Times registration required) that "Schroeder is finished; Chirac has had it." From RN's mouth to God's ear...

Tony Blair's Labour Party was trounced in Britain too, and the Anglo-American media have predictably been spinning the result as a "punishment" for the Iraq war and "Blair's support for Bush". (Not a sparrow falls but it proves the evil of George W. Bush...)

But the real story in Britain was the surge in support for the newish UK Independence Party: seventeen percent of the vote, twelve seats in the Euro-Parliament, more than double the UKIP share at the last Euro-election in 1999. The UKIP isn't just against Euro federalism: it is bluntly for UK withdrawal from the European Union. (You can't get more Euro-sceptic than that.) Anti-federalist or Euro-sceptic parties did well in Poland, Austria, and Holland too.

I used to root for a United Europe: for one thing, I liked the idea of being a "citizen of Europe" rather than of just one old European nation-state. But the past couple of years have cured me. Anti-Americanism, and thinly veiled anti-semitism, turn out to be somewhere near the top of the Euro agenda: or at least, these are the visceral feelings that have been surging to the Euro surface, cynically promoted by Euro politicians (Jacques Chirac, Exhibit A) and by most of the Euro media.

There is a case for hoping that Britain stays in the European Union: British people are less anti-American than much of Old Europe (though there is plenty, plenty of anti-Americanism in Britain); still, the thought is that Britain will tether Europe, politically and psychologically, a little closer to the US than otherwise. But in a European Union that careens on towards "statehood", it's pretty clear that the continentals are more likely to drag Britain along with them -- in policy and fundamental stance -- than Britain is to pull the continentals towards more friendly feelings for the USA.

The UKIP success this week, and growing Euro-scepticism in New Europe and even in parts of Old Europe, are bad news, perhaps very bad news, for the emergence of an anti-American "federal Europe". Sounds like good news to me.


ps Mark Steyn, as ever, has it right on this subject.