The forthcoming elections to the European Parliament (EP) and its results bring about several important implications. Definitively this is a popularity test the domestic elites are put on, but also an important indicator of the support that the political parties seek in (for many – more relevant) local and parliamentary elections. In the Visegrad Countries, the ongoing debate focuses on many ambivalent aspects of this competition: the EP as such is presented either as a comfortable and profitable place for crowning of political career or simply as a next step or as place of exile for those who become or could become problematic, controversial or simply, got out of control in the local political game of thrones and cannot be got rid of in the spotlight.
However, this specific 21st century exile to the West is not as effective as intended – the linkage between MEPs and domestic politics remains strong and the EP environment not only does not prevents but even enhances innovative actions.
All this occurs in Europe that differs from the one we used to know. European Union 2014 is a body that evolved territorially and ideologically, incorporated not only varieties and richness of the diasporas but also Pandora's boxes that come along. Boxes full of domestic animosities that easily take roots on the European level and, fueled with the solidarity crisis, slowly become its voice.
The European electoral basket we can choose from is more diverse than it used to be – traditional political platforms/parties are supplemented with European parties, non-aligned candidates and other organisations that tend to alter the mainstream politics in the local context. This is also a case of Visegrad parties and movements placed on the margins of domestic politics find their place on the European level (i.e. The League of Polish Families in 2009).
Electoral forecasts to the oncoming elections to the EP are consistent – the current political setup is going to change, mostly in favour of euro-skeptic, anti-immigrant and populist parties. This applies to the number of cards (EP Groups) in the deck but also to style of the game and eventually, power shift. The research results as well as opinion pools indicate the increasing number of radical right representatives in the EP. According to the latest prognosis made by the PoolWatch Project: Many more people are likely to vote for protest, populist, Eurosceptic or radical parties on the right or the left than five years ago (...) there to be enough MEPs from enough member states for three groups to emerge on the right of the EPP: the current ECR and EFD (or their new incarnations), and a new group led by the French National Front (FN) and Dutch Party of Freedom (PVV).
Does the future growth of the number of radical right MEPs imply its growing potential in incarnating vision of European not-Union? The answer to that is as complicated as the nature of the radical agenda and EU decision-making process itself.
Populist radical right presence in the EP is nothing new (since 1984 at least one radical right party had its MEPs), although paradoxically – as they are openly and radically Eurosceptic – nativist (anti-immigrant), nation-oriented, underling a strong state-based executive powers that narrows down the possibility to achieve broad and strong consensus – needed in the EP every-day practice.
As experience shows, MEP numbers that do not allow formation of the biggest EP groups are hardly translated into real political potential. In this regard, radicals used to organize themselves into parliamentary groups (lately it is Europe of Freedom and Democracy Group, EFD), but cooperation was usually turbulent and unsuccessful. At the end of the term, radicals generally operate as non-aligned.
The Pandora boxes they bring about – nation oriented agendas, contradictory interests and mutually exclusive views interfere collaboration, working out common grounds in debates and voting’s. Therefore, a number of radical delegates estimated as three times higher than in 2009 does not guarantee its success in the most important aspects of the EP cavities (legislation, consultation process). But we argue that, in any case, it will be the win-win game for populist radical right.
What, in turn should be expected, is a growing non-direct influence. This influence should also be understood as further spreading of the euro-skeptic and ethno-centric message, all throughout official European channels. The influence will be at least two-folded – political groups of the far right will interact with their (growing) electorates as well as with other political groups. The first will be important in the forthcoming national elections, the second in pushing through the radical agenda in European institutions.
Their walk into the lion's den with fixed message, not-making-coalitions priority made them even more credible in the eyes of disillusioned citizens. The recent research on political processes and long-term influence in the public sphere underlines that the main operators of the radical change in Europe were not the populists themselves but conservative, right-wing mainstream parties that either cooperate or radicalize its own appeal in order to adapt to and cover the electorates that find populist right promises comforting.
Last but not least, the high scores of populists can secure financial assets for the future development (the Polish National Movement declares that that the reason they run in the EP is to gain extra funds).