The Year of Europe: Dutch and French Election Results in Focus

Budapest, 29th May 2017 – An international event organised by Nézőpont Intézet was held today on elections in the Netherlands and France.

Speaking at the event, Csaba Fodor, Managing Director of Nézőpont Intézet, presented a volume of studies on the interpretation of these elections’ results, the background of anti-establishment forces’ increasing popularity and the role of immigration in setting campaign agendas. The analyst stressed that a strong Europe can only be established based on nation-states, and an essential prerequisite of this is the operation of stable governments in member-states. This is vital because the European Union is now faced by the most serious crisis in its history, the pointed out, adding that Brexit, the immigration crisis, terrorism, economic and social difficulties experienced by southern member states and the demographic situation constitute major symptoms on their own even if examined individually.

The volume of analyses points out the emergence of a political crisis parallel to these phenomena. According to public opinion polls carried out in member states, close to sixty million voters currently back left-wing or right-wing anti-establishment political forces. This amounts to around one-fifths of citizens of voting age in individual member states. Furthermore, the number of voters supporting anti-establishment forces has increased by six million since the outbreak of the immigration crisis two years ago, which equals the entire population of Slovakia.

Csaba Fodor argued that despite anti-establishment candidates failing to score victories at both Austrian presidential elections in late 2016 and elections in the Netherlands and France during the running year, support for these groups had reached a historic peak in all three countries. According to the analyst, the chief explanation for this is that the immigration crisis has had increasing influence on campaign agendas.

Csaba Fodor stressed that while almost eighty days have passed since elections in the Netherlands, the country remains without a new cabinet. Besides the proportionate electoral system, the said that the reason for this is exactly the strengthening of left-wing and right-wing anti-establishment forces, which have increased their number of mandates in the lower house to close to 40 percent from the previous one-quarter. Although it is difficult to estimate the outcome of National Assembly elections to take place in France in June, it is likely that Emmanuel Macron’s cabinet will fail to win a stable majority. According to Nézőpont Intézet’s Managing Director, the results of both the Dutch and the recent French elections have created a climate of uncertainty instead of political stability. This may give cause for concern especially because of the dramatic challenges faced by the European Union, he added.

Ahead of the event, opening remarks were delivered by Ágoston Sámuel Mráz, head of the Nézőpont Group; Dr. Ernő Schaller, Director of Foreign Affairs at the Foundation for a Civic Hungary; and Federico Reho, member of the Wilfried Martens Centre for European Studies’s research project team. Following a summary of the volume’s chief conclusions, a lecture was given by Pascale Joannin, Managing Director of the Robert Schuman Foundation.

The event was concluded with a panel discussion featuring Csaba Fodor, Pascale Joannin and Csaba Tóth, Strategic Director of the think tank Republikon Intézet.

The project on the assessment of the results and background of Dutch and French elections was supported by the Wilfried Martens Centre for European Studies and the Foundation for a Civic Hungary.