Back in what now feels like another era, the European Union was a vessel of aspiration whose aims were largely supported by political leaders across the continent. Here was a super-nation constructed out of a collective yearning for shared security, prosperity and modernity. In the contemporary conversation, talk of the European Union engenders suspicion and even contempt. The union sometimes seems to have devolved into a totem of discontents — over the continued inflow of migrants from poorer countries, the expanding powers of bureaucrats in Brussels, and the very notion of tying one’s national fortunes to the perceived dysfunction of broader Europe.
Against this backdrop, Europeans will head to the polls in May to determine who claims the seats in the European parliament, the legislature that convenes in Strasbourg and Brussels. Given abundant signs of Euroscepticism from London to Berlin, this once-every-five years electoral exercise appears to be shaping up as no less than a referendum on the merits of continuing on with the European Union itself.