Van Rompuy advisor warns of European "day of reckoning"

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Luuk Van Middelaar
Luuk Van Middelaar
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The upcoming European Elections could signal a major shift in the EU's power balance according to Luuk Van Middelaar, an advisor to former European Commission President, Herman van Rompuy.

In an interview with Euronews, the philosopher and historian said the political centre that has long dominated Brussels politics can no longer hold as fresh parties spring up across the continent.

"The political centre of the grand coalition cannot hold. But I think that's good news because you will need more than two, perhaps three or four parties to build a European majority in the next Parliament," he said.

"It means there will be less space for backroom deals between the two major parties and more open debate about the issues and conflicting voices in the European arena."

Shifting sands

During a discussion on the current state of world affairs, Van Middelaar said conflicting forces are placing pressure on longstanding European political norms.

"There is a whole battle on democracy and the values of liberalism, the freedom of opposition, of the press in countries like Hungary and others where we clearly have not seen the end of it yet and where the day of reckoning will probably come in the next five years."

Despite that warning, Van Middelaar remains upbeat about the results of the upcoming vote.

"In a democratic debate, you need to have the possibility to disagree and still be accepted within the system. That's why I'm very much looking forward to the next European Parliament and also how the sceptical, nationalist voices will behave," he said.

Link to poem written one hundred years ago

Van Middelaar's comments "The political centre...cannot hold' echoes the Irish poet William Butler Yeats, whose 'Second Coming' was written in 1919, and went some way to anticipate the disintegration of Europe, leaving the continent vulnerable to the rise of the right.

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
W.B.Yeats
The Second Coming (1919)