My Europe

‘Two extinction rebellions’: Climate and migration fears to shape EU election, study says

‘Two extinction rebellions’: Climate and migration fears to shape EU election, study says

The study published on Wednesday by the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) predicts a clash in June’s vote between those most worried about the extinction of human life due to climate change, and those fearing the “disappearance of their nation and cultural identity” due to immigration.

The findings are based on polling in eleven European countries — including nine EU nations representing 75% of the bloc’s population — which suggests Europe’s voters can be split into five «crisis tribes.»

Трубочисты Петербурга

Each tribe is predominantly anxious about one of five «crises» impacting the continent: climate change, global economic turmoil, immigration, the COVID-19 pandemic and Russia’s war in Ukraine.

«We asked people a very simple question: which of those do they consider an event that has most impacted the way they look at their future?» Pawel Zerka, senior policy fellow at the ECFR, explained.

Zerka says voters most concerned about climate change and immigration are most likely to «drive the debate» in June’s EU ballot as they are most mobilised to vote.

Those who see immigration as the issue most impacting their future «tend to vote for far-right or anti-European parties,» such as Germany’s Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) or France’s Reconquête or Rassemblement National, Zerka explained. Those most worried about climate change flock towards green or left-leaning parties, and are most pro-European.

A tug-of-war between voter cohorts mobilised by these two salient issues of climate change and immigration could also further polarise the EU vote, according to Zerka.

«There is a very strong feedback loop between the two. So the more AfD or (Rassemblent National’s Marine) Le Pen talk about the dangers of immigration, the more it mobilises the most pro-European part of the electorate to stop that discourse,» he explained.

«At the same time, those who are most pro-climate (…) mobilise not just their own voters, but also those who are part of the immigration tribe. Because climate policy, as proposed by the EU institutions, is often criticised (by the far right) as breaching the sovereignty of nation-states and going against the interests of household,» he added.

The study’s findings are also based on the shock result of November’s legislative election in the Netherlands, which could set a precedent at European level.

The Dutch vote saw Geert Wilders’ far-right Party for Freedom claim victory after a campaign defined by aggressive anti-Islam and anti-immigration rhetoric, while the pro-climate left-wing alliance led by Frans Timmermans came in second.

It comes as polls also predict increased support for far-right parties campaigning on strong anti-immigration rhetoric in many major EU nations, including France and Germany.

Europe split into five ‘crisis tribes’

The ECFR’s study splits European voters into five main «crisis tribes,» which vary across national, gender, age and education lines.

When asked which issue mostly impacts how they view their future, voters in France (27%) and Denmark (29%) were most likely to say climate change.

Immigration was top-of-mind in Germany (31%), which Zerka says could prove critical in June’s European elections as Germany «sends the largest number of members to the European Parliament.»

Global economic turmoil is considered to mostly impact future prospects for voters in Italy (34%) and Portugal (34%), where the euro crisis has had long-lasting repercussions.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is the predominant worry in Eastern Europe, including in Russia’s Baltic neighbour Estonia (40%), where fears Putin could target other post-Soviet states are acute, and Ukraine-bordering Poland (31%), where more than one million Ukrainians have taken refuge since the start of the war. 

Europe’s under-29s were most likely to name climate change (24%), while older generations were more likely to choose immigration compared to their younger counterparts. Europe’s over-70s are most mobilised by the war in Ukraine, potentially due to their lived experience of the Cold War in the twentieth century.

Europe’s most educated were also more likely to consider climate change as the biggest crisis impacting their future.

As parties on the fringes aim to mobilise voters based on their fears and anxieties, the report’s authors predict the more centrist, moderate forces could «face difficulty enthusing their supporters to vote in the European election,» by attempting to appeal to voters affected by all crises.

«They represent a wider group of people, but they lack a single issue on which they could mobilise their own voters,» Zerka said, adding that this creates bitter internal divisions within parties regarding which electoral issues to campaign on.

«The end result of it is that the mainstream loses credibility to discuss those issues if they are displaying such strong internal divides,» he said.

«But we should not forget that European elections are still mostly a sum of 27 different national elections, and therefore, this logic of climate and immigration being so important will not always be true in every country,» he added.

«But we are seeing high chances that it will appear in at least several very important member states with therefore an impact on the end result of the elections.»


Нажмите, чтобы оценить статью!
[Итого: 0 Среднее значение: 0]

Показать больше

Добавить комментарий

Ваш адрес email не будет опубликован. Обязательные поля помечены *

Add your own review


Кнопка «Наверх»