‘Democracy has gained’, declared a jubilant Donald Tusk on Sunday. The previous president of the European Council had simply discovered of the exit polls displaying his rivals in Poland’s parliamentary elections shedding their majority. The populist, Eurosceptic incumbents, the Legislation and Justice (PiS) occasion, nonetheless gained probably the most votes. However the elections have nonetheless opened the door for Tusk’s centre-right Civic Platform to guide a brand new coalition authorities. (The official consequence isn’t anticipated till Tuesday.)

Tusk isn’t alone in pitching his presumed victory as a victory for democracy extra broadly. Brussels and the worldwide press have all handled these elections as an existential battle between a return to democratic norms with Tusk and a deeper descent into populist or nativist authoritarianism with PiS, whose eight years in workplace at the moment are probably at their finish.

However there are main issues with this framing. Not least as a result of Donald Tusk is clearly no pal of democracy. Actually, throughout his 5 years because the unelected president of the European Council, he labored tirelessly to frustrate folks’s democratic needs, each behind the scenes and out within the open.

When 17.4million Britons voted to go away the EU in 2016, lending Brexit the biggest democratic mandate for something in UK historical past, Tusk didn’t even fake to take their views significantly. Actually, previous to the referendum, he privately warned then prime minister David Cameron that the very act of holding a vote on EU membership, letting the general public freely have their say, can be ‘so harmful… so silly’. Apparently, in accordance with the person who now poses as a champion of democracy, main political choices shouldn’t be taken by the folks.

Even 4 years after the ‘silly referendum’, as he repeatedly referred to as it, was held, Tusk was no extra keen to just accept the consequence. Talking at a joint press convention in February 2019 with the Irish taoiseach Leo Varadkar, Tusk mused out loud that there can be a ‘particular place in hell’ for Brexiteers.

A number of months later, in a November 2019 speech on the Faculty of Europe, the supposedly impartial EU official determined to meddle within the upcoming UK Basic Election, by lending his public backing to the pro-Stay opposition events. He instructed Remainers by no means to ‘surrender’ on stopping Brexit. And he warned the citizens {that a} vote for Boris Johnson’s Tories, who promised to ‘Get Brexit Accomplished’, would flip Britain into ‘an outsider, a second-rate participant’.

Extra alarmingly, in that very same speech, Tusk admitted to attempting to stymie Brexit from behind the scenes, throughout the darkish corridors of Brussels. ‘I did all the pieces in my energy to keep away from the confrontational No Deal situation and lengthen the time for reflection and a attainable British change of coronary heart’, he confessed. It may hardly get extra express than that. Right here we had an unelected EU official admitting to utilizing his energy – all the pieces in his energy – to artificially decelerate the Brexit course of in an try and power a change of coronary heart. To overturn the referendum consequence. To silence the expressed democratic needs of 17.4million Go away voters.

Tusk and his allies in Brussels clearly have a really Orwellian understanding of the phrase democracy. The place you and I perceive it to imply ‘the rule of the folks’, the EU oligarchs suppose it means ‘something that aligns with our needs’.

The same trick is at play in Poland. Logically, the truth that the governing occasion is about to lose energy following these parliamentary elections should name into query the worldwide handwringing over the well being of Polish democracy. As ought to the extraordinarily excessive turnout of 73 per cent – the very best for 34 years (turnout has solely ever elevated below PiS rule). However within the eyes of the Brussels elite, ‘democracy’ doesn’t imply the free participation of the general public, or rule by the bulk. It means following the EU’s ‘values’ and serving the pursuits of the Brussels oligarchy. And so events and politicians that align with Brussels, like Tusk and his Civic Platform, are mentioned to characterize all that’s ‘democratic’ and good. In the meantime, those who deviate from EU orthodoxies, like Poland’s PiS, are forged out as authoritarian threats to the ‘democratic’ order.

The reality is that Tusk and the EU elites have gone out of their technique to subvert democracy. They’ve tried to overturn referendum outcomes and put a lid on the populist passions of the folks. For them to pose as champions of democracy now appears like a sick joke.

Fraser Myers is deputy editor at spiked and host of the spiked podcast. Observe him on Twitter: @FraserMyers.

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