EU hopes to engage with voters via power game
Parliament's challenge is not extremism, it is the ability to bridge its legitimacy deficit, writes Dan O'Brien in Brussels
The rise of political extremism in Europe is currently much talked about in the EU capital, as it has been across the continent in recent years. The latest bout of concern comes thanks to the likely outcome of the world's second biggest exercise in democracy – the European Parliament elections in two weeks' time.
As many as 200 or more of the 751 MEPs who take their seats in June could be from parties that are either extremist or profoundly Eurosceptic (or both). In two of the bloc's biggest countries – Britain and France – parties who advocate leaving the EU altogether may well top the polls. Many other countries will send hard leftist and reactionary rightist to the Strasbourg/Brussels legislature.
The increased presence of the non-mainstream parties in the European Parliament will make majority-building more difficult, and dozens of supporters of the likes of Nigel Farage and Marion Le Pen are unlikely to add anything more than colour to the tedious grind of getting laws out the end of Europe's giant legislative sausage grinder.