Bernard Guetta: The Post-war Era Is Over

2024-01-22 | Political initiatives, Geopolitical analysis

There are some embarrassing truths. With less than six months to go before the European elections, when all the parties in the Member States are preparing to do battle and at the same time assert themselves on their national stage, how can we say that they are living in the wrong era and that the confrontations they are preparing for are largely futile and even harmful?

The post-war era is over. We have entered a new century and in all our countries the far right is on the rise. There are the Spanish and Polish exceptions, but they cannot obscure the fact that the head of the Italian government descends directly from fascism, that Germany is witnessing a surge in the popularity of a party that would like to expel two million foreigners and nationals who are judged not to conform to German values “towards the Maghreb” , that Mme Le Pen could soon be in charge in France and that the Dutch centre-right is in negotiations with Geert Wilders.

In four of the EU’s five leading economic powers, the far right has become inescapable, and right-wing and far-right party alliances or coalitions are multiplying everywhere, to the point that they are becoming commonplace. We are going through what the United States is going through with Donald Trump and we are going to quarrel between ourselves, centre-right, utopian left, Greens, centre-left, even though our votes converge so regularly in the European Parliament?

Are we going to vilify each other even though we all consider that a defeat for Ukraine would be a victory for dictatorships over democracy and would open the door to further imperial ambitions on the part of the Kremlin?

Are we going to throw statistics at each other about pesticides, biodiversity, the sea and fossil fuels, when it is only the pace and methods of the green transition that we disagree on, and certainly not on its necessity? Are we, we democrats, going to exhaust ourselves fighting each other instead of putting up a united front against the far right, as the Poles, from the new left to the centre-right, have done and won?

Let us be clear.

It is not a question of denying our differences. We have profound divergences when it comes to tax rates, debt, the economic role of public authorities or the level, or even the relevance, of social solidarity and protection. These are essential, but remain secondary in the face of the chaos on the other shores of the Mediterranean, Vladimir Putin’s desire to reconquer the Empire of the Tsars and the withdrawal of the United States, which, Trump or no Trump, no longer wants to assume responsibility for Europe’s defence. At a time when our 27 countries face every possible threat, at a time when they could find themselves naked tomorrow are we going to tear each other apart at the risk of allowing the triumph of extreme right-wingers whose aim is to disintegrate the Union which, on the contrary, we so desperately need to strengthen?

That would be sheer madness, and this forces us into a unity that does not mean uniformity. Each of the parties defending European unity and democracy has to defend its own ideas but, from the most utopian to the most conservative, all democrats should adopt common proposals on European defence, Ukraine, the green transition, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the conditions for enlargement of the Union.

That is what is going to be our common ground on the day after the elections to prevent Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin and our extreme right-wingers from unravelling the Union. So let us say it!

Originally published here (also available in French).