Europe facing the end of democracies: Macron warns EU crisis may descend into all-out war

Europe facing the end of democracies: Macron warns EU crisis may descend into all-out war

The centrist has sought to position himself as the leader of a liberal movement countering the rise of the extreme right, but EU populists are putting up a tough fight and gaining support. 

The 41-year-old centrist said in a speech to mark the centenary of the UN’s International Labour Organisation (ILO) in Geneva, said: “The crisis that we are experiencing can lead to war and to the disintegration of democracies. I am deeply convinced of it.

“Chaos is here. And I think it is our generation’s responsibility not to wait for a new war but to look at the world as it is,” he continued, adding that Europe is going through “a deep economic, social, environmental, political and therefore civilizational crisis”. 

He said: “We can choose to be sleepwalkers. But if we want true progress we need to make some serious commitments.”

Mr Macron also denounced a broken capitalism “gone mad” as he called for universal social protection and compensation for those whose livelihoods were threatened by technological and environmental advances.  

He said: “Something is not right with this capitalism that increasingly benefits a privileged few.” 

The French centrist added that people who feel left out by globalisation and cut off from the hope of prosperity can become “drawn to authoritarianism”. 

People are lured by “an authoritarianism that says: ‘democracy is no longer protecting you from the inequality caused by this capitalism gone mad. So let’s build walls, borders, and get out of this weak multilateralism’.” 

Warning that the Brussels bloc’s founding principles of peace and social justice were under threat, Mr Macron called for a return to the “social market economy where everyone finds their share” rather than a system that allows the “capture of wealth by a few”.  

The French liberal also reiterated his call for the re-establishment of a European minimum wage as a way of reducing inequality.

The ILO event was also attended by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who for her part said that “securing decent working conditions” was a top global priority. 

Mr Macron, a former economy minister, has sought to position himself as the leader of a dynamic, progressive movement countering the rise of the populist far-right in Europe. 

But while he has successfully cemented his reputation as a staunch europhile in Brussels, he has struggled to win over French voters. 

Perceived as arrogant and out of touch with the working class, his standing at home has been undermined by more than six months of sometimes violent citizen-led protests against his pro-business economic reforms.  

Already weakened by the popular revolt, Mr Macron dealt with another blow last month after the far-right Rassemblement national (RN) party of his rival Marine Le Pen won the most votes in France’s elections to the European parliament, nudging his pro-Brussels La République en Marche (REM) party into second place. 

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