Europe on the Edge

Tuesday 6 June 2017, 7pm | Emmanuel Centre

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Europe on the Edge

Is this the turning point for Europe? Marine Le Pen’s National Front may not have swept to victory yesterday in the first round of the French presidential elections, but the run-off between her and Emmanuel Macron on May 7th marks a major upset in French politics. This will be the first election in living memory where the battle will be fought between two non-establishment candidates.

Le Pen’s angry, anti-EU nativism will go up against Macron’s En Marche!, a new centrist party led by a fresh-faced 39-year-old who has never held elected office. While Le Pen’s chances are slim, her victory is not completely out of the question. She may be behind in the polls, but she could still be propelled to power by widespread voter disaffection and fears over immigration and security. If she wins, she will close France’s borders and pull the country out of NATO and the EU. Whatever ultimately happens in France, yesterday’s election was a seismic upheaval for the political establishment. Are we witnessing a total realignment in European politics, with the demise of the mainstream parties and potentially the collapse of the European project?

It’s happening all across the continent. The anti-Islam agitator Geert Wilders came second in the Dutch elections last month, while the country’s young voters rallied around political outsiders like the pro-European leftist GreenLeft party, leaving the traditional Dutch Labour party nearly annihilated. Meanwhile, the populist Five Star Movement is surging in Italy, where it threatens to leave the border-free Schengen zone and ditch the Euro – a prospect that could lead to economic chaos.

After Brexit and Trump last year, it seems that an anti-establishment domino effect is spreading across Europe. Is this the end of the traditional left/right divide, to be replaced by the new nationalist vs globalist politics? And how will the continent deal with the effects of continuing large-scale immigration and its entrenched economic woes?

Join us on June 6th, hear the arguments and have your say.


Paul Collier

Professor of Economics at Oxford and development expert whose 2008 book, The Bottom Billion, has become a classic. In his latest publications, Exodus and Refuge, he examines the effects of mass migration on both the host societies and the migrants’ countries of origin, and suggests practical and moral solutions for the migration challenge which Europe is facing today.

Douglas Murray

Regular columnist for both the Spectator and Standpoint, who writes frequently for other publications, including the Sunday Times and the Wall Street Journal. His forthcoming book is The Strange Death of Europe: Immigration, Identity, Islam, which is part travelogue, part analysis of what Murray sees as Europe’s cultural death-wish.

Christine Ockrent

Belgian-born journalist who was editor-in-chief of the French weekly news magazine L’Express. For ten years she presented France Europe Express, a television show focusing on European issues.


Jonathan Freedland

Guardian columnist, broadcaster and author.




Speakers are subject to change.