Europe’s marginalization of conservatives is counterproductive

Europe’s marginalization of conservatives is counterproductive

This year’s European Parliament elections coincide with the anniversary of D-Day (File/AFP)
This year’s European Parliament elections coincide with the anniversary of D-Day (File/AFP)
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In a strange coincidence or a sign of things to come, this year’s European Parliament elections coincide with the anniversary of D-Day. Thursday marked the start of polling, while dignitaries from across the globe also remembered and celebrated a decisive moment in history.

Gen. Dwight Eisenhower launched Operation Overlord on June 6, 1944, and the paratroopers and airborne commandos started the action at about midnight. The landing of the Allies in Normandy was the largest of all time, but also the “longest day,” according to German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel. It changed the course of the Second World War in favor of the Allies and helped bring down Nazi Germany.

Since then, Europe’s security and economic prosperity have been linked to the US and the transatlantic alliance. This has been a source of stability that, along with the creation of the European Economic Community, the ancestor of the EU, has brought peace to the old continent following centuries of wars. Today, we see that the fundamentals of both the alliance and the European construction are at risk.

Europeans are heading to the polls amid a changing world order with unclear new equilibriums. In response, Europe has doubts, while the US faces unprecedented domestic divisions. The EU has been a great success, as it has brought stability and has successfully integrated and boosted new adherents. Yet, the war in Ukraine has unveiled the EU’s military unreadiness. Moreover, it faces core issues, with an aging population and slowing gross domestic product growth, which is expected to be below 1 percent for 2024, while the US will exceed 2 percent.

Europeans are heading to the polls amid a changing world order with unclear new equilibriums

Khaled Abou Zahr

Not everything is grim and I remain a strong believer in the future of the EU and its capacity to adapt. Yet, the media and pundits have bypassed these tectonic shocks and found a single culprit for all the bloc’s ills: the far right. They have at the same time categorized conservative parties as extremists and denigrated their views for decades. They have marginalized a large part of the population as extremists just because they still believe in the value of family, are proud of their heritage and, while aspiring for modernity, will not change their beliefs.

Lastly, many progressive policies have proven to be catastrophic, completely oblivious to the changing world and sometimes delusional, whether on climate change or in terms of new laws. In that context, despite it being on another topic, this “laisser aller” is best encapsulated by what UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan said in 2017, when he pointed out that some European countries would become “incubators of terrorism.” “The voices we hear calling for murder and shedding blood are in London, Germany, Spain and Italy,” he said. And so, for many Europeans, especially following clashes with farmers and other hard-working industries, the EU is now seen as a bureaucratic dictatorship.

The reality is that, in the face of an emerging new world, there have been two intrinsic answers. The progressive thinking, by which most media abide, has fallen into an acceptance of defeat and retreated into an apologetic position for everything Western societies achieved. They have renounced competition and given up on all the values that brought them and their children prosperity and stability. On the other hand, the conservative parties believe Europe and the West need to roll up their sleeves and face these challenges — and that success is still possible.

And so, as frustration has grown decade after decade, we are now seeing proposals for smart, efficient policies both on security and finance being depicted as populist, just because they are proposed by conservatives. The reality is that progressives are the ones who push real populist policies that distribute money that will be earned by future hard-working people.

The conservative parties believe Europe and the West need to roll up their sleeves and face these challenges

Khaled Abou Zahr

While many are expecting a huge victory for the right and far right in this week’s European elections, I would be surprised if this happens. I would expect a mitigated, unclear parliament, which might force even more transactional politics rather than visionary and long-term policies. This scenario will continue feeding even more into people’s frustrations and fears. Even if I am proven wrong on this result, things will not be as grim as some pundits claim, as I believe the EU and the transatlantic alliance will stay strong even if the right wins in Europe and/or Donald Trump wins the US presidency. It might even be the best outcome for both.

What is needed is to reestablish a real political dialogue and to go back to sound and realistic fiscal policies, as well as a long-term vision. Thankfully, voices from across various parties are starting to wake up to this reality and understand that marginalizing conservatives is counterproductive. In short, it is time for everyone to pull their weight; this is what will maintain stability. We need more “laissez faire” and no more “laissez aller.”

This new world has become hateful toward historical figures, judging them by today’s standards rather than focusing on the evils they stood up to or the achievements they made. Despite this, I will refer to Gen. Charles de Gaulle, who was able, following D-Day — from which he was kept aside and never celebrated — to overcome tremendous difficulties and impose his vision among his allies and lead France toward prosperity. While looking for an independent policy through nuclear power and a strong military industry, he stood strongly by the US and the transatlantic alliance in times of crisis. In the same way, he fought for and protected the essential values for a healthy society, which starts with universal family values.

While he was depicted as being against European integration, the fact is he contributed to its construction and was favorable to a confederation. With his peers, they rose to the challenges and built Europe following the Second World War. It hence might be high time to engage in the next transformation for the EU — one that prevents a third world war.

  • Khaled Abou Zahr is the founder of SpaceQuest Ventures, a space-focused investment platform. He is CEO of EurabiaMedia and editor of Al-Watan Al-Arabi.
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