News / Europe

Right-Wing Surge in European Elections Threatens Ukraine’s Western Path

FILE - France's far right National Front political party leader Marine Le Pen (L) gestures at supporters.
FILE - France's far right National Front political party leader Marine Le Pen (L) gestures at supporters.
James Brooke
In Ukraine’s presidential election on Sunday, pro-European candidates swept the balloting. But in Europe that day, voters flocked to parties that want to close Europe’s doors.
The strong right-wing showing in the recent European Parliament elections may claim an unexpected victim: Ukraine and its European ambitions.
Almost one-third of the members who will sit in the Brussels-based parliament until the end of this decade come from parties hostile to the European Union and EU expansion. In many cases, they are full of praise for Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Carnegie Moscow Center analyst Maria Lipman predicts these Euroskeptics and right-wingers will try to block financial aid to Ukraine.
“The result of the European election is not good for Ukraine. It presages more difficult decisions, having to do with aid to Ukraine. The European Union already has serious burdens. It is not in excellent shape economically. To assume yet another burden that Ukraine is, and to allocate, actually, huge funds to Ukraine, is a difficult decision,” said Lipman.
In Ukraine’s presidential election Sunday, pro-European candidates won over 80 percent of votes. The apparent winner, Petro Poroshenko, won 54 percent.
On Monday in Kyiv, the head of the EU Parliament delegation in Ukraine, Sweden's Goeran Faerm, said the EU is ready to sign a free trade zone agreement with Ukraine and to continue talks on visa-free travel.
But, back in Brussels, a growing minority of European parliament members may want to close Europe’s doors. They say that Ukraine is Russia’s problem. The Kremlin is courting these anti-EU politicians.
Last month, Marine Le Pen, leader of France’s National Front, visited Moscow. She praised Russian President Vladimir Putin, and said there was “no point” in Ukraine joining the EU.
In return, Putin publicly hailed what he called “the success of Marine Le Pen in France.”
Then, last Sunday, the National Front won the most seats of any French party in the European elections.
Peter Kreko, director of the Political Capital Institute in Budapest, studies the rise of Europe’s far right. He said that Europe’s nationalist parties are anti-U.S. and anti-EU. Here, they find common ground with President Putin.
“What is the benefit of radical forces for Russia? They are anti-EU. Both on the far left, and on the far right in Europe, we can find forces that are openly talking about the end of Europe, and that, in the current form, the European Union should be demolished,” said Kreko.
In March, the Kremlin invited representatives of the National Front and of other far-right European parties to Crimea to observe the snap election that ultimately approved Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Black Sea peninsula. These foreign observers wrote up a positive report on the vote.
Russian state media give generous coverage to Europe’s new nationalist and Euroskeptic parties. Over the last four years, RT, the Kremlin-funded TV station, has mentioned or featured Marine Le Pen 144 times. Nigel Farage, leader of the UK Independence Party, or UKIP, was interviewed 17 times.
“[Farage] makes a lot of statements praising Russia, and making a lot of statements about the greatness of Putin, and how he (Putin) handled the Syrian, and then the Crimean conflict. And Nigel Farage has a lot of coverage in the pro-Russian media, including Voice of Russia, Russian television,” said Kreko.
In Sunday’s voting, UKIP won the most votes. It the first time in over a century of British elections that first place did not go to Labor or the Conservatives.
In Moscow, the Kremlin is clearly pleased with this surge in far right and Euroskeptic parties.
Mikhail Margelov, head of the foreign affairs committee of upper house of Russia's parliament, told the Interfax news agency: “Many right-wing candidates elected to the European Parliament like Russia," adding, “so it can be expected that right-wing deputies will be able to affect the opinion about our country and the policy of Brussels regarding Moscow.”
A negative assessment came from John Vinocur, a Wall Street Journal columnist based in Paris.
Writing under a headline, “Putin’s Woman in Paris,” Vinocur concluded: “Mr. Putin can count at the least on Marine Le Pen as being appeasement's loudest cheerleader.”
In the East-West tug of war over Ukraine, it appears that some Western Europeans are pushing East.

You May Like

US, China Have Dueling Definitions of Cybersecurity

Analysts say attribution or or proving that a particular individual or government is responsible for a hack, is a daunting task More

Snowden: I'd Go to Prison to Return to US

Former NSA contractor says he has not received a formal plea-deal offer from US officials, who consider him to be a traitor More

Goodbye Pocahontas: Photos Reveal Today's Real Native Americans

Weary of stereotypes, photographer Matika Wilbur is determined to reshape the public's perception of her people More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Anonymous
May 28, 2014 4:26 AM
What are the problems? United States alone will feed Kiev cakes as did Nuland on the Maidan.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europei
Luis Ramirez
October 02, 2015 4:45 PM
European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video First Self-Driving Truck Debuts on European Highways

The first automated semi-trailer truck started its maiden voyage Friday, Oct. 2, on a European highway. The Daimler truck called 'Actros' is the first potentially mass-produced truck whose driver will be required only to monitor the situation, similar to the role of an airline captain while the plane is in autopilot mode. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Migrant Influx Costs Europe, But Economy Could Benefit

The influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants is testing Europe’s ability to respond – especially in the poorer Balkan states. But some analysts argue that Europe will benefit by welcoming the huge numbers of young people – many of them well educated and willing to work. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

Video New Fabric Helps Fight Dust-Related Allergies

Many people around the world suffer from dust-related allergies, caused mainly by tiny mites that live in bed linen. Polish scientists report they have successfully tested a fabric that is impenetrable to the microscopic creatures. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video Burkina Faso's Economy Deeply Affected by Political Turmoil

Political turmoil in Burkina Faso over the past year has taken a toll on the economy. The transitional government is reporting nearly $70 million in losses in the ten days that followed a short-lived coup by members of the presidential guard earlier this month. The crisis shut businesses and workers went on strike. With elections on the horizon, Emilie Iob reports on what a return to political stability can do for the country's economic recovery.

Video Fleeing Violence, Some Syrians Find Refuge in Irbil

As Syrians continue to flee their country’s unrest to seek new lives in safer places, VOA Persian Service reporter Shepol Abbassi visited Irbil, where a number Syrians have taken refuge. During the religious holidy of Eid al-Adha, the city largely shut down, as temperatures soared. Amy Katz narrates his report.

Video Nigeria’s Wecyclers Work for Reusable Future in Lagos

The streets and lagoons of Africa's largest city - Lagos, Nigeria - are often clogged with trash, almost none of which gets recycled. One company is trying to change that. Chris Stein reports for VOA from Lagos.

Video Sketch Artist Helps Catch Criminals, Gives a Face to Deceased

Police often face the problem of trying to find a crime suspect based on general descriptions that could fit hundreds of people in the vicinity of the crime. In these cases, an artist can use information from witnesses to sketch a likeness that police can show the public via newspapers and television. But, as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, such sketches can also help bring back faces of the dead.

Video Thailand Set to Build China-like Internet Firewall

Thai authorities are planning to tighten control over the Internet, creating a single international access point so they can better monitor content. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok on what is being called Thailand’s own "Great Firewall."

Video Croatian Town’s War History Evokes Empathy for Migrants

As thousands of Afghanistan, Iraqi and Syrian migrants pass through Croatia, locals are reminded of their own experiences with war and refugees in the 1990s. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from the town of Vukovar, where wartime scars still are visible today.

Video Long Drought Affecting California’s Sequoias

California is suffering under a historic four-year drought and scientists say even the state's famed sequoia trees are feeling the pain. The National Park Service has started detailed research to see how it can help the oldest living things on earth survive. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs