IRU's review of the EU elections: Europe has turned to the right, what should the Roma community expect from Europe?

The elections for the European Parliament in the 27 EU member states ended on Sunday.

The center-right European People's Party (EPP) will remain the largest political group in the European Parliament with 181 seats, ahead of the center-left Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (SD) with 135 MEPs, according to exit polls from the European elections held from Thursday to week in the 27 EU member states. But that's why there is a big drop in liberals and greens.

The third political force remains the liberals with 82 mandates, ahead of the right-wing group European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) with 71 and the extreme right-wing group Identity and Democracy (ID) with 62 seats. The bloc of the Greens and the European Free Alliance (EFA) won among 53 MEPs, and the Left won 34 seats.

Such results increase the chances of the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, who is the EPP's "top candidate", for re-election.

The remaining 101 mandates in the 720-member European Parliament went to parties that are not members of any European group. Among them are the far-right Alternative for Germany (AFD), the Italian populist Five Star Movement (M5S), the national-conservative and right-wing populist Fidesz of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, the left-wing populist and nationalist Direction-Social Democracy (Smer-SD) of the Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico, the social democratic Glas-Social Democracy (Hlas) of Slovak President Peter Pellegrini and the German leftist and populist Alliance of Zara Wagenknecht (BSV). Among them are 51 former MPs and 51 newly elected ones, including representatives of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD), which was recently expelled from the "Identity and Democracy" group. The far-right has the most votes in Austria, the CDU won in Germany.

The far-right won the most votes in European Parliament (EP) elections in Austria, France, while coming second in Germany and the Netherlands, according to projections based primarily on exit polls.

It was announced in the European Parliament that the conservative coalition of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the Christian Social Union (CSU) received the most votes in Germany – 29.5 percent, and the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) 16.5 percent.

In Austria, the far-right Freedom Party of Austria (FPO) took first place with 27 percent of the vote, followed by the conservative Austrian People's Party with 23.5 percent and the Social Democrats with 23 percent. The Greens got 10.5 percent, which is the same as the liberal NEOS party.

In France, the Marine Le Pen party won yesterday's European elections, so the "Identity and Democracy" group in the European Parliament (EP) will get 30 new deputies, the European Parliament announced the results of the voting.

According to preliminary results, she won about 32 percent of the vote, and the parties around Macron's centrist, liberal Revival party just over 15 percent.

The Socialists are in third place with just over 14 percent.

Due to the bad result, the French president dissolved the parliament and in a few weeks will call for extraordinary parliamentary elections.

The far-right's gains in the EU's two largest member states come ahead of expected gains for Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni's hard-right Brothers of Italy party.

For now, there is no information whether there will be Roma representatives in the new composition of the EP. In the previous composition were Livia Jaroca from Fidesz Hungary, Petar Polak - from Slovakia and Romeo Franz from Germany from the Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance.

Otherwise, what can the Roma expect from the EU in such a right-oriented Europe?

The EU's Roma population of 6 million is present in almost every member state, and its size can be compared to a medium-sized member state like Denmark. Roma even make up about 10 percent of the population in some EU countries, including Hungary, Bulgaria and Slovakia. In addition, there are double - and in some countries three times as many Roma under the age of 15 as the majority population, meaning that the community had a relatively high number of first-time voters.

But so far with a few honorable exceptions, politicians have simply made too many mistakes, alienating much of this important electorate. The latest figures show, for example, that while the working poor in the EU make up 8.5 percent of the population, among Roma they make up 39 percent — almost the same as in sub-Saharan Africa (38 percent).

Finally - and most importantly - pro-European politicians are too often silent when the extreme right attacks the Roma.

The success of right-wing parties in France, Germany, Austria, Italy, etc. it is primarily due to the abuse of prejudices towards xenophobic performances and rhetoric towards migrants, Muslims, and this includes the Roma. These examples also suggest that pro-European leaders saw the far right more as an aberration that only threatened marginalized communities than as an early warning of a serious threat to them and the democratic system - how wrong they were!

These leaders have shown a similar attitude in their foreign policy. That is why there are countless examples.

For example, in 2018, when the notorious Ukrainian far-right group C14 carried out a series of violent attacks on Roma neighborhoods, leading to the brutal death of 24-year-old Daniel Papp and sparking protests outside Ukrainian embassies across Europe, pro-European leaders chose not to stand by. shoulder to shoulder.

In a similar geopolitical reckoning, while EU High Representative Josep Borrell condemned the killing of George Floyd in the United States, at the same time the killing of Stanislav Tomas, a Roma in the Czech Republic, did not provoke a significant reaction. Russia, on the other hand, took the opportunity to stand with the Roma, pointing out the moral and political inconsistency of the EU.

It was usually noticeable that, during their campaigns, right-wing politicians had meetings with the Roma communities at all or very little, thus showing their lack of interest and xenophobia.  Roma have always been loyal. You don't need to look for evidence of this in history: but unfortunately, is a "dark period" for the Roma community in the EU in sight. The probability is high!

That is why IRU calls on all Roma relevant organizations, associations, and intellectuals to join together and defend the interests of the Roma community in the EU. The IRU and all well-wishers for the Roma community with all their capacity and credibility will stand at the table and participate and cooperate actively with the future composition of the EP, in order to bridge all possible barriers and for an equal distribution of tasks and obligations as well as benefits. arising from those relations.



With respect

Zoran Dimov

President of the IRU

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