On the same day that the Dutch went to the polls my teenage daughter went to Strasbourg on a school trip. Once in the EU parliament she and her classmates were given a guided tour by a French MEP; she was charming, by all account, a member of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats.
My daughter’s class had their photo taken as a memento of the visit and underneath it was captioned: ‘Europe is important because, together, we can protect our way of life’.
Her class outing was part of an initiative organised by Together.eu, whose slogan is ‘For democracy’. Their mission statement explains that they are ‘dedicated to getting as many people as possible involved in the democratic life of Europe.’
Surely then they would have been satisfied with the turnout in the Dutch elections, where 78 per cent of the electorate cast a vote. Then again, perhaps not, given that the winner in a sensational result was Geert Wilders of the Party for Freedom (PVV).
Suddenly democracy has lost some of its appeal. Iratxe Garcia, the president of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats commiserated with the beaten left-wing candidate, Frans Timmermans, and vowed that ‘we will stand firm and united to defend our values against the far right and its normalisation.’
Timmermans is the incarnation of the grey Brussels bureaucrat. For nine years the 62-year-old served as vice-president of the European Commission, the man who more than any other has championed the Europe’s Green Deal. Two years ago Timmermans described Greta Thunberg, the Swedish environmental radical, as a ‘hero’ for her environmental activism.
On the other great issue of our times, mass immigration, he’s on record stating that Europe is the ‘continent of solidarity, and our doors will remain open for those in need of protection… migration is and will be a permanent feature of our life.