Europe vote and Turkey
Although it was not given much attention in Turkey, with the latest Lisbon Treaty, the European Parliament has gained prominence in European politics and thus the winners and losers of the last weekend’s elections indeed will have an impact on the climate between Turkey and Europe as well.
Of the 752-seat Parliament, the two biggest groups, European Peoples’ Party (EPP) now has 213 seats with 28.3 percent of the vote and the union of Socialists and Democrats, the S&D, has 190 seats with 23.3 percent of the vote. ALDE, union of liberals and liberal democrats, 64 seats with 8.5 percent of the vote, the Greens (EFA) with 53 seats and a mere 7 percent of the vote, European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) 46 seats with 6.13 percent and In dependents (NI), 41 seats and 5.46 percent vote, Europe for Freedom and Democracy (EFD) 38 seats and 5 percent of the vote and others 64 seats and 8.5 percent vote.
What do these results indicate? Euroskeptics are definitely seen to have made serious advances while groups in favor of advancing European integration comfortably enjoy two-thirds majority in the legislature.
In Britain, France, Hungary, Denmark, Greece and Finland Euroskeptic conservatives and the far-right have made serious headway. Most people would perhaps underline the advances of Euroskeptics, particularly in Britain and France, as the most serious indication of May 25’s vote, while many others with awareness of the threat it poses would most likely underline the fact that Greek fascists, the Golden Dawn, have exceeded ten percent.
Perhaps the election results should be considered with awareness that Europe has not yet left behind a very serious economic-fiscal crisis and, for example, particularly in Greece, voters apparently voted in protest of the austerity measures. Still center-left and center-right parties apparently maintained, more or less, their positioning, while the Greens – surprisingly no longer considered by anyone as radical environmentalists – made some headway.
With conservatives losing some 60 seats, but other center-right and center-left groups not gaining strength either, apparently the new period ahead will be shaped with alliances of at least three parties, one or two of them the negligible “radicals” of yesterday. What will the result of that be in the overall policies of the European Parliament and the European Commission, as the European legislature is no longer a playground for retired European politicians, but has serious leverage on both national governments, as well as the Commission? At least, can the Commission or national governments ignore the election results and the will of European peoples that was demonstrated vividly both in voting preferences, as well as in the low participation rate (43 percent)? Martin Schulz, for example, must be quite unsure regarding himself becoming the joint candidate of social democrats for the top seat at the Commission.
As regard to Turkey relations, it is obvious that Turkish human rights panorama – not good at all and worsening – will come more under the spotlight. It is so unfortunate that the incredible success of the ruling Islamist government in building an elected dictatorship image not only strengthened the hands of the anti-Turkish groups, but has alienated friends of Turkey as well. Is it not awkward that Turkey’s friends have become more vocal as regard to their friendship with Turkish people, but condemnation of the government’s bad performance?
Even if it might be assumed that in the short run there will not be much impact on Turkey, the changing political climate in Europe as reflected in the European Parliament vote will have a bearing effect in the medium and long run, particularly in view of the fact that European peoples are now apparently inclined to be more receptive to xenophobic policies and attitudes and there are large Turkish groups living in many European countries. Turkey’s regime is obvious as well.
One last question might be whether the idea of a second-sphere Europe, with Britain leading, might appear in the medium-run as an alternative to satisfy Euroskeptics and accommodate Turkey, as well as Britain and some other European countries that otherwise might not either conform with the rules of the game, or the peoples of Europe who don’t see a place for it in the first circle of the family.