Socialist Opposition Mounts Against von der Leyen’s Far-Right Alliance

Socialist Opposition Mounts Against von der Leyen’s Far-Right Alliance

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen is facing a significant challenge to her potential second term, as Socialists across Europe express strong opposition to her flirtation with the far-right, particularly Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and her party.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and members of his Social Democratic Party (SPD) have issued warnings, indicating their readiness to scuttle von der Leyen’s candidacy should she continue to entertain the idea of collaborating with hard-right MEPs aligned with Meloni. This development emerges as French President Emmanuel Macron undertakes a crucial visit to Germany, seeking to establish consensus on the future political landscape of Europe post the upcoming EU elections.

Key figures within the Socialist camp, including Scholz and SPD lead candidate Katarina Barley, have made it clear that they oppose von der Leyen’s potential coalition-building with the far-right to secure a majority in the European Parliament. Barley reiterated the commitment of left-leaning parties to refrain from any cooperation with extremist and radical factions, stressing the importance of upholding traditional party alliances.

The controversy stems from von der Leyen’s openness to working with the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) group, which includes Meloni’s Brothers of Italy party. While von der Leyen, aligned with the centre-right European People’s Party, has indicated a willingness to seek support from various political factions, her overtures towards the ECR have triggered alarm among Socialists.

Scholz has cautioned against the formation of a Commission presidency reliant on the support of the far-right, emphasizing the necessity of maintaining the foundations of traditional party politics. Nicolas Schmit, the Socialist’s lead candidate for the EU election, criticised von der Leyen’s perceived distinction between “good” and “bad” right-wing factions, highlighting Meloni’s staunchly conservative stance and her opposition to a unified Europe.

The Socialist camp is contemplating alternative candidates, with former Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi emerging as a potential challenger to von der Leyen. Draghi, known for his tenure as the head of the European Central Bank, has garnered support from Macron’s allies, signalling a possible Franco-German consensus on his candidacy.

Mario Draghi, Von der Leyen’s Coalition Conundrum: Socialists Threaten Second Term

Mario Draghi, Von der Leyen’s Coalition Conundrum: Socialists Threaten Second Term

French MEP Pascal Canfin, closely associated with Macron’s liberal Renaissance party, expressed France’s inclination towards supporting Draghi for a prominent role within the EU. This sentiment finds resonance in Germany, where MPs like Markus Töns and Ralf Stegner have voiced their preference for Draghi over von der Leyen, citing concerns over her alignment with right-wing blocs.

Von der Leyen’s bid for re-election faces considerable hurdles, particularly in garnering the necessary support from European leaders like Scholz, Macron, and Meloni. With electoral arithmetic proving challenging and potential opposition from center-left MEPs, von der Leyen’s prospects for a second term appear uncertain.

The current dynamics reflect a broader tension within European politics, where the alignment of ideological factions and the quest for consensus amidst divergent interests underscore the complexities of leadership within the EU. As Macron engages in discussions with German counterparts during his state visit, the implications of von der Leyen’s far-right flirtation on the future of European governance remain a topic of intense debate and speculation.

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