Editor's Column

The Green Tide Turns in Europe

This month I’ve been editing Quadrant from the offices of the Danube Institute. Located in Aranybastya—the Golden Bastion—it affords a bird’s eye view not just of the picturesque spires of Budapest but of the fault lines dividing Europe. While the picture is mixed, the good news is that the great Green tidal wave that swept over the EU in 2019 has passed its high point and is receding. Green parties and their liberal technocratic and social democratic fellow travellers were the biggest losers in the EU parliamentary elections held from 6 to 9 June. 

The problem for Europeans is that the EU has a Potemkin parliament constructed to create the illusion of democratic control when in reality it is run by faceless Eurocrats inexorably claiming ever more power from member governments. The ability to draft legislation is the exclusive prerogative of the EU Commission, which styles itself as the “executive” arm but is appointed by the European Council which is made up of the leaders of the EU states. The parliament is relegated to approving, rejecting, or proposing amendments. So, until the right-wing insurgents become leaders of countries there is not much hope of seeing change in the EU.

Nonetheless, even though the turnout is only just over 50 per cent overall, the European parliamentary elections do serve as a useful barometer of public opinion. What they show is not just a rise in parties on the Right and a fall in the parties of the liberal technocrats (like Macron in France) and leftists generally but a collapse in the vote for the Greens.

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In Germany, Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s Social Democrats won less than 14 per cent of the vote, their worst result in a national poll since 1949, and even fewer votes than the much-maligned Alternative for Germany which increased its vote by almost 5 per cent compared with the last election.

The German Greens were even bigger losers, falling almost nine percentage points to less than 12 per cent. Ironically, having campaigned to lower the voting age to sixteen, their vote crashed to only 10 per cent among those aged sixteen to twenty-four, with 17 per cent of this age group voting for the Christian Democrat Union and another 17 per cent voting for Alternative for Germany. 

In the next most populous country, France, the Ecologists only got a tad over 5 per cent, a steep fall from over 13 per cent in 2019 and more than 16 per cent in 2009. It was much the same story elsewhere, so that in the European Parliament the Greens will be pushed from fourth to sixth place. This green-lash is hardly a surprise. For months, farmers have been protesting climate policies that are driving them out of business.  

It is highly unlikely that the EU will meet its delusional 2030 goal of cutting greenhouse gases by 55 per cent from 1990 levels. A carbon market for heating and transport fuels that is meant to be launched in 2027 is unlikely to get off the ground given that it will only further exacerbate the cost-of-living crisis, and although all new cars are meant to be emissions-free by 2035 the chances of that happening are vanishingly small. 

But too much is never enough for the climate commissars, who are now bent on a mission impossible of reducing greenhouse gas emissions in 2040 by 90 per cent compared with emission levels in 1990. That would require almost a doubling of investment to 1.5 trillion euros per annum. And to what end? Germany, over the last five years, has cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 8.5 per cent, but only by exporting energy-intensive industry offshore—it declined by 8.4 per cent over the last five years, relocating to places like China where emissions aren’t capped. Little wonder then that the Green vote in the European Parliament declined over the last five years by a massive 58 per cent.

You know that climate policies are losing their allure when even Greta Thunberg wrapped herself in a keffiyeh to protest the war in Gaza in Berlin rather than confine herself to old-fashioned climate injustice. The protesters conflated Israel’s war against Hamas with a “Kick Big Polluters Out” calling for oil and gas companies to be held accountable for enabling genocide in Gaza and fuelling the climate crisis. Unintentionally, they make a fair point. After all, who is a bigger exporter of gas, and genocide, than Qatar, banker to Hamas?

Yet for all the efforts of the EU to dissolve national identities, national governments are still where all the action takes place. In France, President Emanuel Macron was so devastated after his Renaissance party got a miserable 15 per cent of the vote, down from 22 per cent in 2019, and less than half the votes of Marine Le Pen’s National Rally which won more than 31 per cent of the vote, the first French party to do so since 1984, that he threw caution to the winds and called a snap election for the French parliament on July 7. If a week, or three, is a long time in politics, that soiree was an eternity in France as all hell broke loose with parties on the Left and Right scrambling to stitch up alliances and stab each other in the back. Yet the chaos is unlikely to benefit Macron, who has gone backwards in the polls.

The decision looks every bit as ill-starred as that of British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to call a snap election in the UK which will be held days before the French election, on July 4. Both Sunak’s Tories and Macron’s Renaissance Party could be facing what the pundits are calling electoral extinction, but whereas Macron’s party was his own creation, the Conservative party, founded in 1834, is one of the oldest and most successful parties in the Western world.

The first-past-the-post voting system in the UK has until now shored up the main parties. What seems to be threatening the Tories is the democratic deficit, the extent to which an elected government is unable to deliver its program because of the intervention of unelected bodies, in this case, the courts in the European Union. Voters in both countries seem determined to punish governments that have failed to address the critical cost-of-living crisis that has been inflamed by green energy policies, and to curb immigration and the related problems of unemployment and increased violence. 

One who has been mercilessly clear-eyed in describing all this is the brilliant Mark Steyn. Fresh from a punishingly long defamation case in Washington DC, which John O’Sullivan covered in the May issue of Quadrant, Steyn was back in court in June, this time taking Britain’s broadcasting censor Ofcom to the High Court. Steyn argued that Ofcom’s rulings had destroyed his career at GB News and had a chilling effect on any other journalist contemplating reporting anything other than official propaganda about the safety and efficacy of Covid vaccines. 

It is outrageous that in the country that gave us John Stuart Mill and so robustly defended free speech over centuries, a gaggle of third-rate civil servants has been authorised to determine what is true and what is false. Unsurprisingly, their notion of truth seems to be identical to the policy of the government.

The one-day hearing was a gathering of everybody who is anybody in the counter-Covid camp including Dr Naomi Wolf who had appeared on one of the censured programs. Despite having suffered at least four heart attacks following vaccination, Steyn was in fine form. As he wrote on his blog, Steynonline.com, “I don’t think legions of people crippled and bereaved by a vaccine they never needed to take and which has now been withdrawn worldwide should have their very existence denied just because it’s politically embarrassing to the likes of Sunak, Johnson, and Hancock …” Quite so.

In a fascinating interview with Michael Shellenberger, Vaclav Klaus, the president of the Czech Republic from 2003 to 2013, made astute points about the EU elections. First, he rejected the term “populism” as a dangerous progressive label used to attack “rational thinking and political freedom”. “To use that term is to accept the von der Leyen terminology,” he says. Second, environmentalism, institutionalised in Europe in the Green Deal, is the number one danger, the basis of the “new society”, and Malthusianism par excellence. Third, the degree of centralisation in the EU reminds Eastern Europeans of the communist era. Last, the European Union was better when it was a community of nations rather than a union of people. Having lived for decades under Moscow, Eastern Europeans have no appetite to live for three centuries under Brussels. This month’s article by former prime minister John Howard on his conversion from climate agnosticism to climate atheism is an example of the leadership that is required to cut through the consensus that has been created by stifling debate in a manner reminiscent of the communist era.

The decline of the Greens in Europe should ring alarm bells for Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, who is attacking Opposition leader Peter Dutton for refusing to commit to “unachievable” interim carbon emission targets legislated as part of the Paris Agreement to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. The kind of carbon this calls to mind is the sort that blackens pots and kettles. There is no way Albanese will meet his emissions reduction targets, any more than the virtue-signalling EU. If European politics and common sense are any guide, Mr Dutton’s decision to put the cost of living ahead of climate action is on the money.

5 thoughts on “The Green Tide Turns in Europe

  • Patrick McCauley says:

    So with Roger Franklin in the US for the last few months and you in Budapest – who is editing Q in Oz ? – Tony Thomas ? – as usual, doing all the work. Come back you lot – we need you here fighting the deluge of insanity ‘en plain air – We are feeling abandoned in the midst of a tsunami of leftist concoctions, fantasies and a quickly failing government falling out of the bullshit trees.

    • Alistair says:

      I’m with you Patrick.
      I wouldn’t mind these guys being overseas if they were actually using the opportunity to make some sensible commentary on the bigger globalist agenda out there instead of misdirecting down rabbit holes.
      Try and get the term “uniparty” published on these pages and see how you get on … and yet “uniparty” is a concept that is everywhere. I’m concerned that Quadrant more and more is becoming a mouthpiece for the “uniparty” and many of its readers brushed aside as just “populists” Nigel Farage Marine Le Pen What about an interview?

  • Peter Marriott says:

    Good piece Rebecca and good to hear a bit of encouraging news for a change about what’s happening in the EU.
    You’re also talking about one of the giants in Europe in my view, when it comes to standing up to the European bureaucrats….Vaclav Klaus.
    He was right on to the fallaceous Global Warming theory as it was still called then when he wrote his little booklet “Blue Planet in Green Shackles” and also in the views he espoused on a speaking tour here some years ago, brought out at the time, from memory I think, by the IPA.

  • ianl says:

    I’m afraid Rebecca Weisser’s article here is just another Pollyanna piece. Jo Nova does them all the time. It’s the inverse of crying Wolf !! all the time.

    The makeup of the EU Parliament matters not. Brussels and its’ various Courts hold the power and are unassailable through ordinary voting, whether sneered at as populist or with some other gaslight phrase.

    I still remember the first reported reaction from Brussels to the 2016 Brexit vote in the UK: “Oh, who will pay our pensions now ?” When Starmer is UK Prime Minister in about a week now, the UK will eventually be declared part of the EU once again – and I’m willing to bet that the only noticeable difference will be the speed at which woke EU directives (especially on migration) are carried out.

    The globalists hold most the money, most the communication organs that matter (Musk is obviously on their hit list), and most of the assets. And they simply ignore populist voting; it matters not to them.

    Uniparty – oh yes. Popular voting is simply to help decide Uniparty squabbles over whose turn it is next. Yes, Dutton’s group has pushed nuclear energy onto the stage for a bit – but there has been no follow up with clear scientific and engineering articles released to the MSM, just the usual ad homs from all sides, with an audible sigh of relief from the MSM as it deliberately allows the likelihood of any serious debate slowly sink into the swamp.

  • James McKenzie says:

    Saudia- blessed be Mohammed- the pivotal of power. Trying hard to be succinct in flagging the obvious.

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