ADVERTISING
 
Tuesday, February 25   Sign in or Register
 
Evangelical Focus
 

 
ADVERTISING
 
 
FOLLOW US ON
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Google +
  • Instagram
  • Soundcloud
 

Newsletter
Newsletter, sign up to receive all our News by email.
 

POLL
Society
Should Christians join social protests?



SEE MORE POLLS
 

 
TOP 10 MOST VIEWED



Jeff Fountain
 

A French perspective

VIctor Hugo’s perspective helps us realise we cannot take the privilege of voting in the European elections for granted. This weekend saw the highest turnout in the EP elections.

WINDOW ON EUROPE AUTHOR Jeff Fountain 29 MAY 2019 09:59 h GMT+1

What would Victor Hugo have made of this weekend’s European elections?



The great French author of The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Les Miserables belonged to a long line of thinkers and visionaries stretching back to William Penn (who proposed a European Parliament as early as 1693), who foresaw the day when the nations of Europe would trade their weapons for the ballot box.



My Canadian friend Pierre alerted me to Hugo’s opening speech on August 21, 1849, at the International Peace Congress in Paris. One of a series (London 1843; Brussels 1848, Paris 1849, Frankfurt 1850, and London 1851), the congress was attended by two thousand delegates.



Hugo, as chairman, opened as follows:



A day will come when your arms will fall even from your hands!

A day will come when war will seem as absurd and impossible between Paris and London, between Petersburg and Berlin, between Vienna and Turin, as it would be impossible and would seem absurd today between Rouen and Amiens, between Boston and Philadelphia.

A day will come when you France, you Russia, you Italy, you England, you Germany, you all, nations of the continent, without losing your distinct qualities and your glorious individuality, will be merged closely within a superior unit and you will form the European brotherhood, just as Normandy, Brittany, Burgundy, Lorraine, Alsace, all our provinces are merged together in France.

A day will come when the only fields of battle will be markets opening up to trade and minds opening up to ideas.

A day will come when the bullets and the bombs will be replaced by votes, by the universal suffrage of the peoples, by the venerable arbitration of a great sovereign senate which will be to Europe what this parliament is to England, what this diet is to Germany, what this legislative assembly is to France.

A day will come when we will display cannon in museums just as we display instruments of torture today, and are amazed that such things could ever have been possible. (…)



Sadly, between this speech and that of Robert Schuman a century later which finally launched the European project, France and Germany would become locked in deadly war three times, dragging many other nations into the bloody conflict with them on the last two occasions.



 



PRIVILEGE



Hugo’s perspective helps us realise we cannot take the privilege of voting in the European elections for granted. They are unique in Europe’s history of conflict. Hugo and his fellow conferees would have viewed our chance to settle issues across Europe through the ballot box with great envy. Yet low turnout reveals that we do not properly understand this privilege. This weekend, however, saw the highest turnout in the EP elections ever: over fifty per cent for the first time.



Brexit helped that. There has been far more attention given to the question of EU membership across Europe than ever before. Nobody is suggesting other nations should follow Britain into a fog of confusion. The dominant issue of the elections was ‘more or less Europe?’ Migration, environment, economy, security and corruption became secondary.



The fear (or hope) that anti-European parties, disguising their platforms in European rhetoric, would win enough seats in the parliament to stonewall procedures and generally cause stalemate did not come to fruition. Hugo probably would have managed a wry smile at Marine Le Pen’s efforts to turn the clock back to old-fashioned nationalism. Although she did well to claim an historic victory over President Macron, her party actually lost seats in the parliament. Geert Wilders’ party in the Netherlands lost all three seats. Matteo Salvini’s far-right League party won convincingly in Italy but the new anti-European alliance he had hoped to form with Le Pen and Wilders in the European Parliament will struggle to even reach one tenth of the 751 seats, not the anticipated third.



 



HOOHAH



And what about Nigel Farage’s resounding victory over the Tories and Labour, just as Mrs May resigned? A new prime minister needs to be chosen but the government’s majority is becoming so tenuous with defections from the Conservatives that a newly elected PM could face an almost immediate vote of no-confidence. Which could mean new elections, and no-one can guess who would win.



Meanwhile the Brexit deadline of October 31 is sneaking up. New laws may have to be passed to extend the deadline further… The possibility of a new referendum on Brexit has never been so great since the original referendum. Current polls favour Remainers to Leavers at 54-46 per cent. And despite the hoohah over the Brexit party’s victory, 37 of the British seats in the European Parliament are Remainers, 33 Leavers.



I swear Hugo just winked.



Jeff Fountain is Director of the Schuman Centre for European Studies, and speaks on issues facing Christians today in Europe. He writes at Weekly Word.


 

 


0
COMMENTS

    If you want to comment, or

 



 
 
YOUR ARE AT: - - - A French perspective
 
ADVERTISING
 
 
AUDIOS Audios
 
Julia Doxat-Purser: 25 years of EEA office in Brussels Julia Doxat-Purser: 25 years of EEA office in Brussels

An interview with the socio-political representative of the European Evangelical Alliance about how evangelical Christians work at the heart of the European Union.

 
Ruth Valerio: A lifestyle that cares about creation Ruth Valerio: A lifestyle that cares about creation

Are Christians called to make a difference in environmental care? What has creation care to do with "loving our neighbours"? An interview with the Global Advocacy and Influencing Director of Tearfund.

 
Lars Dahle: Nominal Christianity, a mission field for the church Lars Dahle: Nominal Christianity, a mission field for the church

An interview with Lars Dahle, of the Steering Committee of the Lausanne Movement Global Consultation on Nominal Christianity held in Rome.

 
Testimony: Wildfires near Athens Testimony: Wildfires near Athens

Nico Spies, a Christian worker in Athens, gives details about the wildfires in Greece.

 
PICTURES Pictures
 
Photos: European Week of Prayer Photos: European Week of Prayer

Christians joined the Evangelical Alliance Week of Prayer in dozens of European cities as local churches came together to worship God. 

 
Photos: Students at ‘Revive Europe’ Photos: Students at ‘Revive Europe’

Photos of the student conference that brought together 3,000 European Christians in Germany. ‘Revive our hearts, revive our universities, revive Europe’.

 
Min19: Childhood, family and the church Min19: Childhood, family and the church

The first evangelical congress on childhood and family was held in Madrid. Pictures of the event, November 1-2.

 
VIDEO Video
 
What is a prayer meeting? What is a prayer meeting?

“Prayer is like a fire. One spark that someone prays should ignite a passion in someone else”. Mike Betts leads the network of churches Relational Mission.

 
What is Paul's main message in Galatians? What is Paul's main message in Galatians?

“God the Father, the Son and the Spirit are at work in our lives, through the gospel, to bring us into a relationship with theTrinity”, Peter Mead, Director of Cor Deo, says.

 
Christian candidacies in Taiwan increased by 40% in 2020 election Christian candidacies in Taiwan increased by 40% in 2020 election

Many hope their effort will inspire a new generation of political representatives with a strong Christian faith. “God has a long-term plan”.

 
Video: Highlights of ‘Revive Europe’ Video: Highlights of ‘Revive Europe’

A video summary of the student conference that gathered 3,000 in Karlsruhe, Germany. 6 days in 6 minutes.

 
 
Follow us on Soundcloud
Follow us on YouTube
 
 
WE RECOMMEND
 
PARTNERS
 

 
AEE
EVANGELICAL FOCUS belongs to Areópago Protestante, linked to the Spanish Evangelical Alliance (AEE). AEE is member of the European
Evangelical Alliance and World Evangelical Alliance.
 

Opinions expressed are those of their respective contributors and do not necessarily represent the views of Evangelical Focus.