Remember the Conservatives’ decision to leave the federalist European People’s Party and set up its own, eurosceptic group in the European Parliament? Remember the way that new group – the ECR – was dismissed as a “lunatic fringe”?
In May, one of the ECR’s MEPs - Andrzej Duda of the Law and Justice Party – was elected as the new President of Poland. Now Law and Justice have done the double, and secured a storming victory in the country’s parliamentary elections.
The scale of their victory is hard to overstate. This will be the first time since the end of communism that any party has won a majority in the Sejm – and even more astonishingly it looks like there will be not a single left wing Member elected.
The point here is not that Law and Justice are necessarily right about everything (their opposition to sensible steps to raise the pension age, for example, is unwise if popular) nor that they will be automatically supportive of Cameron’s struggling renegotiation (while they, too, fear an EU dominated by the Eurozone, they are unsurprisingly less keen on the idea of restricting welfare for EU migrants).
Rather, the point is that the Tory push to recast our alliances across Europe – whether we remain in the EU or leave it – is working, bit by bit. For a long time we were told that obviously there would never be any serious prospect of eurosceptic, centre right parties rising to power on the continent, so we ought to treat merrily with europhiles who were blandly centrist at best. Law and Justice’s success at the ballot box reveals that as a fallacy.