The “populist” movement that inspired the raise of Trump and Sanders may be about to surge through Europe. If so, it will change drastically the Continent’s political landscape in ways not seen since World War II.
It’s already hit the UK in the form of Brexit, killing David Cameron’s pro-EU government in the process.
Croatia, Hungary, Poland, Slovenia, and Greece already have populist, —or “non-mainstream”—parties in power.
Italy is the next flashpoint.
A “No” vote in Italy is virtually assured at this point.
But it won’t be the end of the populist surge. Voters in Europe’s biggest countries could soon throw out their “mainstream” parties in favor of populist, or anti EU Alternatives.
Here’s the rundown…
Austria is holding a presidential election today. It’s actually a redo of an election held in May, where a populist candidate, Norbert Hofer of the Freedom Party, barely lost.
Austrian courts found irregularities in the results and ordered a prompt new election. But when opinion polls showed the populist candidate in the lead, the government delayed the vote until today. Nevertheless, Mr. Hofer looks set to win the election.
France has a presidential election next spring. There’s a chance that Marine Le Pen, leader of the National Front party, will do better than many expect. After more than a decade of disappointment under Presidents François Hollande and Nicolas Sarkozy, French voters are clamoring for something different.
Spain recently re-elected incumbent Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy. However, Spanish voters fled traditional political parties en- masse for new populist upstarts Podemos and Ciudadanos. So Rajoy was unable to form a majority government.
Rajoy now leads a severely weak minority government. The political power of the Spanish populist parties is only expected to grow.
Angela Merkel, the chancellor of Germany, embodies the European establishment more than any other politician. Her party suffered a series of stinging defeats in regional elections this year, mostly because of her signature lax immigration policies, which have flooded Germany with migrants.
Merkel’s troubles have only helped the Alternative for Germany, a new populist party surging in popularity. The party could pose a real problem for Merkel in the 2017 federal elections.
As the Netherlands approaches elections in March, Geert Wilders’ Party for Freedom, which advocates leaving the EU, is basically tied in opinion polls with the establishment parties.
As populist parties surge, the entire European Union is looking shakier by the day.