Electoral period awaits Europe after summer break

Published 23.07.2018 23:00
Updated 24.07.2018 01:57

The majority of the bureaucrats and diplomats in European Union's capital, Brussels, have been on a break as of last weekend. The same goes for the members of the European Parliament. Meanwhile, in the EU countries, the national parliaments and the state governments of federal countries are also on vacation. As in every summer season, the break will continue from the end of July to the end of August. So, the EU will probably remain silent for the next month unless there is an emergency.

The MEPs are enjoying their last break ahead of the parliament elections in May 2019. Since they will prioritize appearing in their respective electoral districts after the break, their works regarding the parliament will be of secondary importance.

This situation also applies to the European Commission to some extent. As their terms in office will end with the parliament elections and the newly-elected EU Parliament will have to approve the new EU Commission. The commissioners and their teams will not be very active. The ones who will not be recommended after the end of their terms will, of course, be engaged in their future careers, whereas their teams will focus on new jobs or appointments. As of September, the works of the commission and parliament will be rather different for this reason.

For some of the parliament members, the subject of Turkey will bear no importance throughout this period. It is apparent that they will not attach any importance to the subject while some of them will choose to talk more effusively about Turkey as they will probably look to increase their vote share through anti-Turkish sentiments and statements.

Within this period, two important state elections will be held in Germany: Bavarian state elections on Oct. 14, 2018, and Hessen state elections on Oct. 28, 2018. It is estimated that the Alternative for Germany (AfD) will lead the electoral race. The polls show that the party is enjoying quite a high vote share. The success of the far-right AfD in Germany may also indicate success for the far-right groups in the EU Parliament elections.

The far-right parties who are in power in Austria and Italy will likely see the number of MEPs go up from around 100 to 200-250 in the next elections in May 2019. It is alarming that one-third of the 750 MEPs will come from far-right and racist parties.

We will also see the candidates of Christian democrats and social democrats in the time to come. We would like them to prevent the rise of the far-right, but we have so far only witnessed their failure in this respect. Unfortunately, they also look to increase their vote share by adopting far-right discourses, which was the exact reason behind their defeat as the electorate lean towards the original propagators of these ideas.

Amid all these negative developments, there are some positive steps concerning Turkey. Other than the nonsensical statements and acts from Austria, the current term president of the EU, steps taken to restore the relations between the EU and Turkey are promising developments for both parties.

We have seen that some EU countries have finally started analyzing the June 24 presidential and parliamentary elections in Turkey in the correct way. They have understood that they cannot achieve a change in the presidency or the parliament for the next five years, which leads them to steer the relations with Turkey towards a positive direction.

The German government quietly abolished the maximum limits introduced to credits and took some positive steps about tourism, which are only a few examples showing this positive inclination. Also, the statements issued by the foreign ministers of the Netherlands and Turkey to restore the relations were a pleasant development.

As for counterterror efforts, Britain has seized the passport of a Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) member and put him under house arrest. The militant may likely face extradition, which will set a precedent for some other European countries. In Germany and Belgium, they will increasingly realize that supporting the FETÖ militants will bring no good.

If the populist anti-Turkish remarks that might make headlines in the upcoming electoral period do not undermine relations, the relationship between Turkey and EU countries will probably enter a positive path.

Of course, the EU countries must also pay regard to Turkey's good relations with Russia and China because some EU countries are having problems with the U.S. - facing a crisis in NATO - and are also trying to develop relations with Russia and China.

Europe is likely to undergo an array of new developments after the summer break, which will come as no surprise.

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