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When Europe Plays a Decisive Role in National Politics

ARTICLES - 14 December 2017

Until very recently, Europe played a very minor role in domestic political events in countries like France and Germany, and almost none during electoral campaigns. If it did, it was only as an offspring. In this regard, 2017 represents a real turning point, for both sides of the Rhine. 

A turning point for France  

For the first time since 1965, a serious candidate to the presidential election waved the European flag. And this candidate won. For the first time, a party leader who reached the second round of the elections, in our case Marine Le Pen, was discredited at least partly because of her confused discourse on Europe. The harm caused was so great that the party ended up reviewing its position and claimed they would give up on Frexit were they to access power. For the first time, a freshly elected president stands out thanks to two of his speeches on Europe, one delivered in Athens, the other at the Sorbonne University, which were widely acclaimed, both in France and abroad.

A turning point for Germany 

For the first time, the formation of a governmental coalition turns out to be particularly tricky, after a bad election for the two main government parties, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), and the Social Democratic Party (SPD). And for the first time, the European ambition might resolve such a crisis. Indeed, the social democrat president is reconsidering his once firm refusal to take part in a big coalition, and that because of European pressure. “I’ve received many worried phone calls from our European friends”, explained Martin Schulz, former president of the European parliament. The European project is presented as the foundation for a governmental great coalition by an important CDU leader. And the European vision of a French president is invoked for this very purpose. Armin Laschet, president of the North Rhine-Westphalia region, thus declared : “we need European responses to the coming Brexit, to president Macron’s proposals… The courage with which Macron formulated a vision for Europe could find an echo in Germany, thanks to a great coalition.”

Europe is done with being ignored, caricatured and attacked. Say hi to a Europe we summon, a Europe we assimilate. The Europe we hope for.


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