The European Union may have just taken a big step to the political right, and the Biden administration should take note, Nile Gardiner says. 

“I think that the Biden White House is going to be very nervous, looking at the results in Europe, because European voters have overwhelmingly turned against a lot of the left-wing dogma and agenda, not only [that] Europe leads, but the same agenda that is pursued by the Biden administration,” says Gardiner, director of the Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom at The Heritage Foundation. 

The European Parliament held elections Thursday through Sunday, in which millions of Europeans cast their ballots across 27 countries, and Europe’s conservatives won big. 

“I would describe the election results over the weekend as nothing short of a political revolution within Europe—a firm rejection of socialist ruling elites,” says Gardiner, who prior to joining Heritage in 2002 was foreign policy researcher for former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

In response to this “political revolution,” French President Emmanuel Macron has called for snap legislative elections at the end of June and beginning of July. According to Gardiner, this is a very risky move for Macron, as he is giving the French electorate the chance to further embrace a conservative government. 

Gardiner joins “The Daily Signal Podcast” to explain the implications of the European elections on the U.S. 

Listen to the podcast below or read the lightly edited transcript:

Virginia Allen: It is my privilege to welcome to the show today Nile Gardiner. He serves as the director for the Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom at The Heritage Foundation. Nile, lots of news to jump in today. Thank you so much for being here.

Nile Gardiner: It’s my pleasure. Great to be here. Thank you.

Allen: The European Parliament is the legislative body for the European Union, and there are 720 seats in the European Parliament. And after 185 million votes were cast in Europe across 27 countries, Europe’s conservatives won. Big, Nile. Were conservatives expected to have so much success in this parliamentary election in Europe?

Gardiner: Well, I think that the expectation in advance was that conservative parties would make significant gains, but the sheer scale of the victories that we’ve seen by parties on the Right across Europe exceeded expectations. And I would describe the election results over the weekend as nothing short of a political revolution within Europe, a firm rejection of socialist ruling elites.

And I think that millions upon millions of European voters were saying that they wanted to have a voice in Europe, that they were against a lot of the policies being advanced by European leaders. And I think that in many respects the overwhelming rejection of socialist policies in Europe is the shape of things to come really for the future of Europe.

I do think that we are looking at the rolling back of socialist, big government power in Europe. And that’s a very good thing for Europe. It’s a good thing for the United States as well to see that happening.

Allen: And I’m excited to talk in just a moment a little bit about what this does mean for the United States, but what are Europeans embracing? What is the platform that the Conservative Party really advocates for in Europe? And by saying, “Yes, we want to elect leaders who represent that platform,” what are Europeans signaling?

Gardiner: Well, we have a very wide range of parties on the Right in Europe and there is tremendous variation from country to country. But I think some common themes emerged from these election results.

Firstly, I think that European voters emphatically rejected mass migration, illegal migration, the open borders mindset that has been dominant in Europe for so many decades. And voters said, “Enough is enough.”

They’re concerned about rising crime. They’re concerned about the Islamification of their countries and huge issue in countries such as France, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, for example, Italy—concerns over large-scale migration from Islamic countries and the Islamification of Europe.

I do think the issue of migration was front and center in this election and probably the most important issue for European voters. I think, secondly, the election results were a rejection of net-zero policies, the far-left’s environmental agenda, the green agenda—which many in Europe view as fundamentally destructive in terms of economic growth, in terms of job creation.

And millions of European voters view net-zero policies as incredibly expensive, at the expense of European people. So, I think that we saw sort of the net-zero elites being humbled in this election. So, environmental issues very important and European voters do not want to see the huge costs associated with net-zero policies.

I think, thirdly, we saw a success for a wide range of Euroskeptic political parties across Europe parties that believe that there should not be a federal Europe. Many of these political parties believe there’s too much power in Brussels. Some of the political parties in Europe believe that European government should follow the example of Brexit and should go down the path of restoring sovereignty and self-determination.

Brexit, I think, has been a tremendous game-changer for Europe. The Brexit vote was 2016, but here we are in 2024 and the shock waves of Brexit are still spreading across Europe in a major way. And that’s a good thing because Brexit is all about sovereignty, self-determination, taking power away from unelected elites. Brexit is fundamentally democratic.

And I do think that we’re seeing the rise of Euroskeptic parties who do not believe in the creation of a federal Europe, who want to see power restored to nation-states. So, I think a rejection of European socialist elites was a big part of this vote over the weekend.

Allen: There will now be many conservatives in the European Parliament. How is that going to change the EU as a whole?

Gardiner: Well, there’ll be several hundred conservatives of the European Parliament spread across multiple different political parties and also political groupings. And I do think this will result in a European Parliament that’s going to push back a lot more against the centralized power of Brussels, pushing back against the European Commission, the executive branch of the EU. And this is a big positive.

In terms of what this means for the United States, I think that the Biden White House is going to be very nervous looking at the results in Europe, because European voters have overwhelmingly turned against a lot of the left-wing dogma and agenda not only of European leads, but the same agenda that is pursued by the Biden administration.

Here in the United States, you’ve seen over 10 million illegal migrants cross the U.S. border under the Biden presidency. You’ve seen the Biden administration advancing an extreme left-wing environmentalist agenda, which is hugely costly to the U.S. economy. And European electors have rejected this agenda.

I think also in Europe, as well, millions of voters have rejected far-left woke ideology that left-wing elites have pushed in Europe for the last couple of decades.

And so, all of this actually bodes very badly, I think, for the Biden presidency because European voters have the same issues, the same concerns that American voters have and voters across Europe have said a firm “no” to woke left-wing ideology.

And they’re calling for strong border controls. They are calling for the restoration of national sovereignty. They are calling for an agenda that is culturally conservative. And all of this, I think, is problematic for the left-wing Biden administration.

And I imagine a lot of the Biden advisers around the president are nervous, horrified by what’s happening. And that’s a very good thing, isn’t it? Really. And it’s a good thing when European voters turn against far-left domination. And American voters, of course, have exactly the same concerns about what is the most left-wing presidency in American history that is causing immense damage to the United States at home and abroad.

So, what happens in Europe I think will have an impact in the United States. What happens in Europe matters and the developments across the Atlantic should be closely watched here in the U.S.

Allen: We’ve seen that play out time and time again on various issues that often Europe forwards into something and then the United States follows. And so, it’s going to be fascinating to see how this does play out in American—specifically, what cues the Biden administration takes from this.

Now, before we let you go, I do want to get your thoughts on France’s response. French President Emmanuel Macron, in response to this election, made an announcement that he’s going to hold snap parliamentary elections in France. Is this common? Explain what’s going on here.

Gardiner: It’s a very rare move, actually, by the French president. This has only happened on a few occasions in French history where Parliament has been dissolved. It’s a very dangerous move, of course, for Macron. He was absolutely humiliated in these elections. His party received only around 14% to 15% of the vote. And they were absolutely trounced by right-wing French parties.

And so, I think that this is a huge gamble by the French president because parliamentary elections in France could deliver a resounding victory for the opposition National Rally party, who made huge inroads in the European parliamentary elections. They pulled in over 30% of the vote and Emmanuel Macron could end up potentially as a lame-duck president ahead of the next presidential elections in France, which are, actually, in 2027.

So, a high-risk move by Emmanuel Macron. This is a president who’s in real trouble. He is one of the most unpopular presidents in French history. And the French people are very, very upset on multiple fronts—everything from soaring mass migration to rising crime, unrest in French cities, social disorder. This is a country in real crisis in so many respects. And at the ballot box last week, French voters said they had enough of Emmanuel Macron.

So, let’s see what happens with the parliamentary elections that are coming up at the end of June and also into July. And we’ll see whether Macron ends up as a lame-duck president. There’s a strong possibility of that.

Allen: But yet he seemed to feel that it was worth the risk.

Gardiner: Yeah. You know, for some reason, Macron felt emboldened to hold a parliamentary election. I think it could be disastrous for him. We’ll have to see what the French voters decide, but Macron is an incredibly unpopular figure in France. And I think that French voters are angry and many want to see him out of office. So, the parliamentary elections probably will not go very well for him.

Allen: Nile, any final thoughts on issues that Americans should be aware of as we continue to see the fallout from this election in the EU?

Gardiner: Yeah. That’s a great question. In my view, it’s in the interest of the United States to support a Europe that believes in national sovereignty, self-determination, strong borders. It’s in America’s interests for Europe to move in the direction it’s moving right now.

And I think that the American people should welcome the results in Europe this past weekend. These are positive results for the United States. And it’s a demonstration of the fact that European voters are, in many respects, actually like their American counterparts. And they don’t believe in being ruled by far left-wing elites. They’ve had enough and they’ve spoken out at the ballot box over the last few days.

I think what we’re seeing in Europe should be greatly welcomed here in the United States, is a very positive development moving forward.