LONDON – Interpreting election results, especially when turnout is not high, is always a risky business. And, in the case of the recent European Parliament election, the results were not uniform. The most spectacular result was in Italy, where a pro-reform, pro-Europe party led by Prime Minister Matteo Renzi won more than 40% of the vote. Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats won in Germany and there was a strong vote for the Social Democrats there also. In some cases, the vote simply tracked domestic politics.
But the victories of the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) and the National Front in France and the success of explicitly anti-status quo parties across the continent cannot be ignored. They point to a deep anxiety, distrust, and alienation from Europe’s institutions and core philosophy.