German, Spanish leaders warn French elections may prompt end of EU


This spring's presidential elections in France, in which the far-right Front National candidate Marine Le Pen is tipped to reach the second-round playoff, has the potential to set in train the victories of other anti-EU parties in elections across Europe warned Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and German Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel.

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Leaders in Spain and Germany voiced concern that the Europe Union faces collapse as a result of anti-establishment forces campaigning to tear down the bloc, singling out their common neighbour France as the potential trigger, reports Bloomberg.

Europe’s unprecedented electoral calendar, with ballots this year in France, the Netherlands and Germany - plus possibly in Italy - presents the continent’s “enemies” with the chance to wreck the EU, according to German Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel, a Social Democrat. He cited Brexit’s cheerleaders among the bloc’s foes.

Separately, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, who saw off his own populist challenge last year, expressed alarm at the French presidential ballot in April and May and September’s parliamentary vote in Germany, elections that will determine the future direction of the two biggest economies in the euro area. Victories for the Front National in France and Alternative for Germany would “destroy” the continent, he said.

“I don’t want to even think about it,” Rajoy, whose People’s Party is a member of the same Christian Democratic umbrella group as Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party, said on Onda Cero radio. “‘That would be a catastrophe.”

Polls suggest that Front National leader Marine Le Pen will make it to France’s run-off vote on May 7th, giving her a shot at claiming the presidency on anti-euro, EU-sceptic ticket. She shared a stage last weekend with Frauke Petry of Alternative for Germany and Geert Wilders, whose anti-Islam platform has helped propel his Freedom Party to within reach of winning the March 15th Dutch election.

Europe’s anti-establishment forces are drawing inspiration from Donald Trump’s surprise elevation to the US presidency and unexpected victory of Brexit supporters in last year’s referendum. Another common strand is an anti-immigration stance that has flourished during the worst refugee crisis since World War II, with more than one million people fleeing war and oppression in Syria, Afghanistan and elsewhere having sought asylum in Germany alone.

Gabriel, who is poised to become German foreign minister in a cabinet reshuffle allied to the September 24th election, pointed to France’s two-round ballot as the key moment that will shape Europe’s destiny. While no recent poll has shown Le Pen coming close to winning the second round, Brexit and Trump’s victory have made political analysts and investors reluctant to rule anything out.

Read more of this report from Bloomberg.


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