Past Event

How comprehensive is the EU political realignment?

Has the left-right divide become obsolete in EU politics?

Date: June 25, 2019, 8:30 am Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance

video & audio recordings

summary

Bruegel was excited to host this event where speakers and experts from a variety of fields discussed the evolving party alignments in the European Union. The results of the May 2019 European Parliament election have highlighted the rise of liberal-centrist, green and nativist parties, and a relative decline of the traditionally dominant centre-left and centre-right, against a backdrop of political mobilisation and higher turnout. As the political landscape of Europe continues to shift, its important to understand the ever-changing context in which EU politics occurs.

David Amiel, former policy adviser to President Emmanuel Macron, started the discussion with a presentation “Has the left-right divide become obsolete in EU politics?”. Amiel argued that the current collapse of traditional left-right parties has been happening before the crisis. The cause of this collapse is deep and structural. Traditional issues dividing the left/right are less relevant and intense. Right-wing parties do not intend to dismantle the welfare state and left parties accepted a globalized market economy. Right-wing parties adopted much of the individual rights issues such as gay marriage and women’s rights. Left-wing parties could no longer run on these issues and the issues that do fall into this dimension have become more niche. Both parties ignored new issues such as territorial inequalities, labour market polarization, multiculturalism, the environmental crisis, etc. Amiel also highlighted other causes such as excessive professionalization and technocratization of parties, within-party divisions, and naivete towards the globalization process. Amiel pointed out that a common creed that populist parties got right was “take back control”.

Amiel defined populism more as an attitude and less as an ideology, and as evidence points to studies from France that showed that psychological characteristics such as optimism was a good predictor of whether someone in the previous election voted for Macron or Le Pen — people being more optimistic being more likely to vote for Macron. To further this point, Amiel defined populism as an attitude and comprised of three key parts: An “us vs. them” mentality (the “them” can be immigrants, the elite, or some other group), violent attitude against the public institutions that enforce pluralism and democratic life, and questioning the establishment. Amiel stated that populism addressed the issues that main stream parties failed to address. Amiel sees individual rights like gay marriage and gender equality are very different from the immigration issue. In France the populist right does not make the individual rights a central issue but does make immigration a central issue. Amiel argued that for a strong welfare state and civic involvement individuals must have a sense of a commonality and believes that identity politics is not conducive to this goal of commonality. Identity politics will not lead the left-wing parties to political success. Economic issues are still the key.

Amiel’s advice to combat populism is to understand the root causes of populism, to not indulge in denial – do not pretend that populism is not a powerful force, acknowledge the legitimate concerns of populists, do not engage in moral denunciation, make a review of failures of the left and right parties, and provide alternative answers.

Silke Wettach, EU correspondent for WirtschaftsWoche, continued the discussion. Wettach asserted that the claim that the left and the right are dead is a very French perspective, and in Germany it is viewed that the traditional forces are going down. Wettach argued the question of do we want a strong state and how much redistribution do we want will not go away, and they have to be addressed by parties. Related to this, Wettech criticized the lack of attention Brussels pays to the question of redistribution. In terms of the rise of populism, Wettach pointed to fear of personal decline in income and insecurity as key components. On the rise of the green parties, Wettach argues their success was in part due to their tactic of a fairly empty canvass that people could project onto that canvass. Wettach rejected the idea that there is a peer effect where people see traditional parties eroding in the countries next door and this contributes to the erosion of traditional parties locally. On how to combat populism, Wettach advised that education, taking people’s fears seriously, and engagement are crucial.

Otilia Dhand, senior vice president of Teneo, provider her thoughts next. Dhand provided three reasons for why right-wing populism grew in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE). The first reason was that many of the CEE countries joined the EU in 2004 and 2007, and when the crisis hit in 2008, they were negatively affected. The second reason was the austerity measures mandated by the EU. This act provided a target for local political parties to blame. The third reason is the cultural crisis caused by the immigration crisis. Dhand stated that CEE countries are very closed to immigrants and are often fairly racist. These three factors created compounded economic, social, and cultural insecurities that created an environment where simple solutions and strong leaders would be appealing. Dhand does think that in CEE countries peak populism has passed, and the sense of European liberal values being threatened is now forcing voters that were inactive for several years to return and vote. In order to stem the tide of populism Dhand suggests that the European Commission does not have a role to play, and at the country level give people power to understand what they actually wield in terms of active and passive voting.

Notes by Akira Soto

materials

Presentation by David Amiel

Schedule

Jun 25, 2019

08.30-09.00

Check-in and breakfast

09.00-10.10

Discussion

Chair: Nicolas Véron, Senior Fellow

David Amiel, Former Policy Adviser to President Emmanuel Macron

Otilia Dhand, Senior Vice President, Teneo

Silke Wettach, EU Correspondent, WirtschaftsWoche

10.10-10.30

Q&A

10.30

End

Speakers

David Amiel

Former Policy Adviser to President Emmanuel Macron

Otilia Dhand

Senior Vice President, Teneo

Nicolas Véron

Senior Fellow

Silke Wettach

EU Correspondent, WirtschaftsWoche

Location & Contact

Bruegel, Rue de la Charité 33, 1210 Brussels

Katja Knezevic

[email protected]

Read about event More on this topic
 

Past Event

Past Event

Investment firepower for the recovery: a conversation with Philippe Donnet, CEO of Assicurazioni Generali

At this event the CEO of Assicurazioni Generali, Philippe Donnet will be in conversation with Guntram Wolff, Director of Bruegel.

Speakers: Philippe Donnet and Guntram B. Wolff Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: July 8, 2021
Read about event More on this topic
 

Past Event

Past Event

Strengthening the weak links: future of supply chains

What new supply chains trends will we see in the post-pandemic era?

Speakers: Ebru Özdemir, André Sapir and Guntram B. Wolff Topic: Global Economics & Governance Date: July 7, 2021
Read about event
 

Past Event

Past Event

Ensuring competitiveness of low-carbon investments

At this event, speakers will introduce the core idea of commercialisation contracts, and then discuss key design elements. This includes whether contracts should be issued at the EU or national level, how competition for contracts should be organised, and which industries should be eligible for support.

Speakers: Natalia Fabra, Peter Handley, Ben McWilliams and Georg Zachmann Topic: Energy & Climate, European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: July 1, 2021
Read article Download PDF More on this topic
 

Policy Contribution

Commercialisation contracts: European support for low-carbon technology deployment

To cut the cost of decarbonisation significantly, the best solution would be to provide investors with a predictable carbon price that corresponds to the envisaged decarbonisation pathway.

By: Ben McWilliams and Georg Zachmann Topic: Energy & Climate Date: July 1, 2021
Read about event More on this topic
 

Past Event

Past Event

EU debt vs national debts: friends or foes?

The EU will become into a major issuer of safe assets in the coming years. How will this interact with the debt issuance of European sovereign debts?

Speakers: Grégory Claeys, Yves Jacob, Gert-Jan Koopman, Pablo de Ramón-Laca and Imène Rahmouni-Rousseau Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: June 29, 2021
Read about event More on this topic
 

Past Event

Past Event

How to spend it? A closer look at the recovery plans

In this event, participants will take a closer look at the recovery plans submitted by EU countries.

Speakers: Zsolt Darvas, Alex Patelis and Maarten Verwey Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: June 23, 2021
Read about event More on this topic
 

Past Event

Past Event

Conference on the Future of Europe: Vehicle for reform versus forum for reflection?

At this policy dialogue organised by the research project EU3D, panellists will discuss different options and what they may entail while revisiting the debates on the future of Europe at national and EU-level that have been conducted thus far and their patterns, including preliminary findings on national parliamentary debates.

Speakers: Sergio Fabbrini, John Erik Fossum, Magdalena Góra, Vivien Schmidt, Manfred Weber and Guntram B. Wolff Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: June 16, 2021
Read about event More on this topic
 

Past Event

Past Event

The Recovery and Resilience Fund: Accelerating the digitalisation of the EU?

How can new EU funds financed by EU borrowing supplement national digital and green funding and EU funds available from the standard seven-year EU budget to accelerate digitalisation?

Speakers: Sam Blackie, Zsolt Darvas, Maria Teresa Fabregas Fernandez, J. Scott Marcus and Ben Wreschner Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: June 8, 2021
Read about event More on this topic
 

Past Event

Past Event

Women, Covid-19 & The EU Recovery Plan

How can we ensure that the recovery plan doesn’t leave women behind when 84% of working women in the EU aged 15-64 are employed by services that were predominantly impacted by Covid-19 restrictions?

Speakers: Mary Collins, Maria Demertzis, Alexandra Geese, Jacob Funk Kirkegaard, Dan Mobley, Naomi O'Leary and Emma Rainey Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: June 2, 2021
Read about event More on this topic
 

Past Event

Past Event

Paris Reinforce: From Numbers to Insights: How to think about economic-climate modelling

Join us for the presentation of ‘From Numbers to Insights: How to think about economic-climate modelling’.

Speakers: Haris Doukas, Ajay Gambhir, Glen Peters, Georg Zachmann and Ewelina Daniel Topic: Energy & Climate Date: May 26, 2021
Read about event More on this topic
 

Past Event

Past Event

The work of the future: How are new jobs created and what are the implications for labour markets?

Join us for a presentation of 'New Frontiers: The Origins and Content of New Work, 1940 — 2018' by David Autor (MIT and NBER) and the findings on the source of 'new work' followed by a discussion with an invited panel of academics and policy makers.

Speakers: David Autor, Maarten Goos, Barbara Kauffmann and Georgios Petropoulos Topic: Innovation & Competition Policy Date: May 25, 2021
Read about event
 

Past Event

Past Event

The Future of Work – a conversation with Commissioner Schmit

EU Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights Nicolas Schmit joins Bruegel for a conversation around the future of work.

Speakers: Mario Mariniello and Nicolas Schmit Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance, Innovation & Competition Policy Date: May 25, 2021
Load more posts