The real question is whether the political center can continue to hold the line, as it did in the March Dutch parliamentary election and is likely to do in the second round of the French presidential election on May 7. The fact that around 40 percent of French voters opted for either a far-right or a far-left candidate is a warning sign. At the same time, observers should be careful not to treat every election nowadays as a bellwether. All elections have particular circumstances.go here
Europe for the Europeans
What is true across the board, however, is that the traditional left-right divide is an ever less useful lens for making sense of elections in the West. No, recent elections in Austria, the Netherlands, and France highlight that populism is still an important force to be reckoned with in Europe. When then far-right leader Jean-Marie Le Pen made it to the second round of the French presidential election in , there was a massive protest and he won only 18 percent of the vote in the runoff—a far cry from power.
Recently, by contrast, a populist far-right candidate came within a whisker of winning the presidency in Austria: he was defeated in a second-round runoff by only a few points. A new Euroskeptic and anti-establishment party, Forum for Democracy, also won seats for the first time. In France, the right-wing National Front has reached a new high with the number of votes it has won in a presidential election: 7. This figure will be even higher in round two on May 7. While populists may have become more mainstream, they are certainly not on the run. Populists will continue to win some elections and lose others, and they will put pressure on moderate parties to adopt their rhetoric and policies.
French centrist presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron highlights that mainstream parties should not give in; not all political outsiders need to be populists to win. To defeat what is called populism, three ingredients are of the essence. French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron put together two of them. First is the ability to interpret the widespread desire for change.
Macron is part of the elite; and yet he was able to turn himself into a sort of homo novus , superseding both the traditional Left and the traditional Right. But then you need some sort of grand coalition able to produce results for those sectors of society that feel left behind.
This is the third and key ingredient. It will be seen whether Macron, should he succeed in becoming president on May 7, will be able to form this coalition in the French parliamentary election in June. Germany will follow a similar path in September. Pro-European grand coalitions versus anti-euro populists: this is what the dynamics on the old continent are going to look like.
Italy is next in line. Populism is not an ideology or a movement. The outsider image is generally more fiction than reality. President Donald Trump was elected thanks to the decision of the mainstream Republican Party to swallow its doubts and support him. And in each of these cases, the mathematics was tight and the result close. Trump won because of the peculiarities of the U. Voters in Western democracies still seem hungry for simple slogans and great communicators—a lesson British Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn is about to learn in the most painful fashion.
Not at all. Central Europe including Austria and Italy could become bastions of populism. While the political mainstream adopts a growing number of solutions originally proposed by populists, it remains hard to build clearly pro-EU and liberal political forces. Populists are likely to strengthen their performance in upcoming elections in the Czech Republic and Austria and cement their powers in Poland and Hungary. The impact of the French presidential and Dutch parliamentary elections in Central Europe is limited. Macron—partly a populist, partly a candidate of the establishment—won the first round with a positive, European message.
Central European voters, meanwhile, are attracted more by traditional topics based on a fear of change and of outside influence—be it from Brussels or from waves of refugees. And U. But none of the issues that have given rise to right-wing populists and authoritarian nationalists has been resolved. Politicians in the EU will continue to use Brussels as a punching bag to deflect criticism of their own policies.
That might leave governments—with or without populists—with no other option than to respond to nationalist and protectionist measures elsewhere in kind, leading to exactly the kind of competitive nationalism perhaps even ethnically defined, if anti-immigration legislation is passed that the populists desire. The victory of Emmanuel Macron in the first round of the French presidential election on April 23 proved not only that another populist right-wing politician can be defeated in Europe after the parliamentary vote in the Netherlands on March 15 but also that the victor can come from the center of the political spectrum.
Now there is evidence that a moderate democratic politician does not necessarily have to take on elements of populist identity politics to succeed. On the contrary: a clear pro-European campaign in favor of open society might bring together more supporters than the opposite offer of an inward-looking national community. Meanwhile, the Hungarian government introduced a so-called national consultation entitled Stop Brussels, and the national parliament approved a law targeting the Central European University and academic freedom and wants to stigmatize NGOs as foreign agents.
Yet, will be crucial for whether the EU institutions and member states are ready to isolate an illiberal, populist regime within the union.
The most populist parties after were the Communists, then the Greens. The EU and immigration are targets of choice for populist parties, as are globalization and the Bilderberg Group of transatlantic elites. Populists announce they represent the true interests of the people against the elite establishment and its ruling parties.
Populists promise much but deliver little. The problem for populism is that when it succeeds, it becomes part of the establishment and the target for the next anti-elite populist demagogue. President Donald Trump can win. Then comes a backlash. The electoral wins for pro-EU forces in Austria, the Netherlands, and France followed the triumph of Brexit populism, which is mainly confined to England outside London. When she wins her populist election on June 8, UK Prime Minister Theresa May will have to swap populism for realism unless she wants to do lasting damage to Britain.
President Donald Trump, who lost the popular vote as is too often forgotten.
Sure, her father made the second round of the presidential election , but Jean-Marie did so with More strikingly, Marine received 2. In other words, populism is still growing, slowly but steadily. Such triumphalism is short term and delusional. Yes, the far Right suffered a beating in the first round of the presidential election in France, at a key turning point for the EU. Even in France, if one looks closer, populist candidates together received almost half of the vote on April The far-right National Front might still win the French parliamentary election in June.
This is still an age of populism that gives strong cards to charismatic leaders who thrive on conflict and manipulation of national identities shaken by powerful processes of globalization.
- Message in a Bubble (The April-May June Series Book 3).
- The rise of European populism and the collapse of the center-left.
- The state of play.
Huge parts of electorates can be mobilized against the system and elites, which they feel have let them down. French centrist presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron showed that politicians can also mobilize with hope and perspective. After all, elections are about a choice: the key is to have a credible alternative that can connect with society, especially young people, and stand up to the populists. If elected president on May 7, Macron will need to heal a bitterly divided country and, at the same time, implement unpopular reforms. The tide might turn against him.
One persistent danger is the so-called mainstreaming of populism. Even if populists lose elections, it is important to what extent their agendas shape and, at times, dominate the politics of their country—be it Austria, France, or the Netherlands.
It is not. Populist leaders remain strong in the EU, whether they are in positions of power or breathing down the necks of those in office. Faced with the prospect of such populist leaders coming to power, European citizens tend to have protective reflexes. Yet even if not in power, both leaders will have the capacity to influence policies in their countries, if only by forcing the traditional center Right to adopt more conservative views and by polarizing society with fierce anti-establishment and nationalist narratives.
But they also point to the significant gains far-right populists have made at the expense of the centrists. It is a worrisome sign of the times that observers rejoice when parties once considered unelectable come in second or just fail to clench the presidency, as was the case in Austria, while center-right parties are forced to go on the defensive and the center Left collapses. The far Right is not going away anytime soon—these parties have been in the political game for a long time and have proved resilient and capable of mobilizing electoral support.
A product of the elite National School of Administration ENA , a former Rothschild banker, and a former minister, Macron managed to cast himself as an outsider. Yet it is too soon to declare the nationalist hydra dead. Donald Trump is in the White House. Over 40 percent of French voted for protectionism and antiglobalism, Left and Right, in the first round of the presidential election on April In the United States, the UK, and France, populists have slain or wounded old parties, but new leaders who can sing the songs of reason and openness may be successful in the future.
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Related Europe for the Europeans: The Foreign and Security Policy of the Populist Radical Right
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