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Jun 11, 2024, 11:35am EDT
Europe
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Semafor Signals

Europe’s right-wing rally could have unexpected implications for China and Russia

Insights from Politico, CNBC, BBC, and European Council on Foreign Relations



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Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping during a recent meeting in Beijing
Sergei Guneev/Reuters
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The rise of the far right in the most recent European Parliament elections could have implications for the bloc’s policy toward China and Russia, but there is unlikely to be a radical shift in approach.

Russia appeared to greet the election results optimistically, and suggested a “weakening of the anti-Russian bloc,” Politico reported, but the situation is far from clear-cut.

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European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, who is likely to hold onto the post, has vowed to continue her effort to “de-risk” Europe from China and to take an assertive economic approach.

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Semafor Signals: Global insights on today's biggest stories.

Beijing may be skeptical of Europe’s right

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Sources:  
Politico, Nikkei Asia

The growth of the far-right may not be a welcome change in Beijing, Politico noted, citing the views of Chinese scholars and government advisors. While Europe’s hard-right populists are seen as more favorable to China, fissures within the bloc reflect a muddied stance. Right-leaning groups tend to be against the globalist agenda that is the basis of China’s relationship with the EU; but French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz — perhaps the election’s biggest losers — are among the European leaders “most amenable to a conciliatory stance” with Beijing. Notably, Scholz spoke out against imposing tariffs on Chinese EVs just a day before his party was crushed in the election.

Russia has high hopes for Europe’s right-wing rise

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Sources:  
Politico, Agence France-Presse, BBC, Semafor

The Kremlin said it was “attentively observing” the gains of far-right parties within the EU, and expressed hope that Europe’s populist leaders might erode the bloc’s support for Ukraine. “I hope Macron understands that the French are rejecting him for fanning the war against Russia in Ukraine,” one pro-Kremlin analyst said, Politico reported. Hard-right leaders, however, are split on their stance toward the Russia-Ukraine conflict, BBC noted. While Italy’s PM Giorgia Meloni has always pledged support to Kyiv, France’s Marine Le Pen takes a more Russia-friendly approach. while Putin’s strongest ally in the EU, Hungary’s Viktor Orbán, was one of the least successful right-wing leaders at the election.

Right-wing parties may not find common ground on China, Russia

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Sources:  
CNBC, European Council on Foreign Relations

Europe’s various right-leaning parties differ on key geopolitical issues — notably on the war in Ukraine, but on policy toward China, too, diminishing their ability to cause a broad change within the EU. Nationalist right-wing parties also tend to lean on specific charismatic figures who put their country’s sovereignty above working as a coalition, which is how things get done in the bloc. They “respond to different localized crisis agendas,” analysts at the European Council on Foreign Relations noted, and so are unlikely to find ways to coordinate. “It’s partially up to the far right and the extent to which they can organize themselves to assert influence,” one analyst told CNBC.

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