Europe's Political Mainstream Gets A Wake-Up Call
The resounding gains made by the anti-EU parties in last week's European parliamentary elections have alerted Europe's mainstream leadership to its fundamentally precarious position. This is a warning Stratfor sounded more than two years ago, when we predicted the rise of the far right and cautioned that these fringe groups should not be underestimated, precisely because they were tapping into very real and deepening sentiments that emerged from the economic and social malaise that has developed since 2008.
The highest levels of European leadership are finally and unequivocally feeling the political consequences of years of unemployment and stagnating growth across much of the continent. The dismal election results for many of the mainstream European parties (particularly in France, Spain and the United Kingdom) overshadowed the small but much-lauded gross domestic product growth figures for the year to date that dominated headlines until last week.
The current European leadership sees the rapid rise of Euroskeptical parties as an existential threat to the postwar order in Europe. This is not only because of old specters of Europe's bloody nationalist past, but also because the economic and financial stability of the continent has been rigged (sometimes haphazardly) around the open market and common currency that these Euroskeptical parties want to recuse.