The President of the unelected executive arm of the European Union (EU) has vowed to block all right wing populists from power across the continent, shortly after acquiring the power to exert “far-reaching sanctions” on elected governments.
Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European Commission, promised to exclude Norbert Hofer, the leader of Austria’s Freedom Party (FPÖ), from all EU decision-making if elected ahead of yesterday’s presidential vote.
“There will be no debate or dialogue with the far-right,” the liberal bureaucrat told AFP.
The FPÖ has been Austria’s top-polling political force for some time. However, after leading the pack for most of the presidential race, the right-wing candidate lost out by 0.6 per cent to the Green party, after the inclusion of postal votes, and months of Europe’s mainstream media calling the centre-right populist “far right”.
Right wing populists are periodically topping the polls across the continent – in France, Sweden, Holland, and now Austria – and anti-migrant populists are already in power in Hungary, Poland, and the Czech Republic.
Mr. Junker’s definition of “far right” is somewhat broad, noted by him previously describing Hungary’s conservative president, Viktor Orbán, as a “fascist.”
With the continent-wide democratic surge to the right, the anti-democratic Commission could be in for a challenge in their attempt to exclude each and every elected government they deem to be “far right.”
However, as of 2014, the Commission was handed a batch of new powers that it could plausibly use to do just this – powers already being mobilised against Poland’s elected, conservative leaders.
The Commission can now trigger a “rule of law mechanism” (Article 7 TEU) against nations it perceives as deviating from “the common constitutional traditions of all Member States.” Ultimately, “far-reaching sanctions” can be exerted, and a country can be stripped of all voting rights in the EU and have funding blocked.
In January this year, Frans Timmermans, the first ever unelected Commission “vice president,” who is in charge of “human rights,” triggered the mechanism for the first time against Poland’s government which came to power in a record-breaking, landslide election in 2015.
The new government has subsequently become embroiled in a showdown with their constitutional court over the appointment of new liberal judges and the organisation of Poland’s state broadcaster.
Mr. Timmerman and Commission gave Poland an ultimatum and deadline to back down by, which expired yesterday. As reported by Breitbart London today, the commissioner has now travelled to Poland to “negotiate” with the government there. There is no precedent to indicated what will happen next.
However, the backlash has already begun against the new, explicitly anti-democratic EU powers. Hungary’s Victor Orbàn has vowed to help Poland fight the Commission, and other Eastern, Visegrad nations are likely to join the growing coalition.
“In the future, please have more restraint in instructing and reprimanding the parliament and the government of a sovereign, democratic country,” Polish Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro wrote to Mr. Timmermans in January.
“This is not the union, not the kind of membership that we have agreed to,” said Witold Waszczykowski, the Polish foreign minister.