Mabel Berezin, an expert on European politics and associate professor of sociology at Cornell University, says failed policies in post debt-crisis Europe and a drifting EU mission fueled nationalist right gains in last weekend’s elections.

Berezin says:

“The virtual sweep of the European elections held this Sunday, May 25, by Eurosceptic, nationalist right political parties is not the surprise that it is being made out to be in international media and national political discourse – for example Manuel Valls French Interior Minister appeared on national television after the results were in on Sunday night and described the 25 percent vote share of the French National Front a ‘shock’ and an ‘earthquake.’ “My study of 180 European Parliamentary elections from 1970 to 2012 demonstrates that many nationalist parties, such as the French National Front, are of long duration like the National Front in France. Nationalist right parties have sharply increased their electoral presence since the European Financial crisis began. Absent the European debt crisis and the austerity programs that ensued, these parties would not have the influence that they currently have.

“It is time for national leaders in Europe not only to take a hard look at their own internal politics around a range of issues from immigration to economics, but also for the European Union to evaluate its own mission. Maybe it is time for EU to go back to doing what it did best in the post-war years, regulating commerce and not culture.”

Note: Berezin is the author of “Illiberal Politics in Neoliberal Times: Cultures, Security, and Populism in a New Europe” and editor of “Europe Without Borders: Re-mapping Territory, Citizenship and Identity in a Transnational Age.”

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