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WorldEuropean Elections Will Gauge the Power of Populism

02:15  20 may  2019
02:15  20 may  2019 Source:   msn.com

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Many far-right populists regard the elections as a barometer of just how angry and alienated Europe really is, and as their best chance in years to expand their power in Brussels, the seat of the European Union. Populists are not expected to win the biggest number of the Parliament’s 751 seats, let alone

BRUSSELS — For weeks, Europe ’s far-right populists have been dashing across the Continent, joining arms and presenting themselves as a united front that will batter the political establishment and score a big breakthrough in this week’s elections for the European Parliament.

European Elections Will Gauge the Power of Populism© Vincent Kessler/Reuters A rally for the European elections in Strasbourg, France.

Editor’s note: The opinions in this article are the author’s, as published by our content partner, and do not represent the views of MSN or Microsoft.

European Elections Will Gauge the Power of Populism
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For weeks, Europe’s far-right populists have been dashing across the Continent, joining arms and presenting themselves as a united front that will batter the political establishment and score a big breakthrough in this week’s elections for the European Parliament.

Their latest group hug came in Milan on Saturday evening, where Italy’s firebrand, Matteo Salvini, preened with France’s far right icon, Marine Le Pen, and nearly a dozen other populist leaders. They bashed the European Union, migrants and Islam and promised the dawn of a new, nationalist era.

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The European elections in May 2019 will see a surge in support for Europe 's populist parties. As established political leaders across the Eurozone face the rise of populism one should expect larger spending plans that will see a repeat of two-month budget standoff between the Italian coalition with

“ Populism of a kind,” he said, “has existed for as long as there have been politicians. It wins elections . At the turn of the century, populism was a blip on the horizon of European politics. Since then, the number of Europeans voting for populist parties in national votes has surged from 7% to

But it was telling what they did not talk about: the scandal that erupted this weekend in Austria, which led to the collapse of the nation’s coalition government after the far-right vice chancellor was caught on a video promising favors to a woman claiming to be a Russian investor.

The scandal has rocked Austria. The vice chancellor, a leader of the far-right Freedom Party, quickly resigned, and new elections have been called for September. But it is also rippling across Europe, only days before the European parliamentary elections, as a reminder that Russia has deep ties to many other populist parties, too.

European Elections Will Gauge the Power of Populism© Balazs Szecsodi/Hungarian Prime Minister's Press Office, via Associated Press Prime Minister Viktor Orban of Hungary, center right, and Interior Minister Matteo Salvini of Italy, third from right, at the Hungary-Serbia border this month.

“What’s strange,” said Tom Tugendhat, a Conservative Party lawmaker in Britain, “is how many of these nationalist movements seem to be in favor of Russia, not their own country.”

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Following the European elections , a new right-wing alliance will be formed in the European Parliament. Currently, the right-wing populist parties in the European Parliament are scattered in three different parliamentary groups. One of them, the EFDD faction dominated by the British UKIP

The European elections resulted in traditional centre-right and centre-left blocs losing Non- populist politicians will dominate the next European parliament but will be forced to confront more opponents who paint “Mainstream parties in general are still struggling to deal with populism ,” Rooduijn said.

It is too soon to know whether the Austria scandal will influence the European Parliament elections, which begin on Thursday and end on Sunday. The elections are critical in shaping the course of the European Union for the next five years, especially as mainstream leaders have struggled to win back alienated voters.

Indeed, the vote has set up a stark contrast: Even as the populists are playing to anger and nationalism, mainstream leaders are trying to sell their apathetic voters on maintaining the course. President Emmanuel Macron of France, who embodies the European establishment, argues that “more Europe” is needed, not less.

“This election is between the builders and the breakers,” said Marietje Schaake, a liberal Dutch legislator. “Will people come out to vote because they know what’s at stake?”

Many far-right populists regard the elections as a barometer of just how angry and alienated Europe really is, and as their best chance in years to expand their power in Brussels, the seat of the European Union. Populists are not expected to win the biggest number of the Parliament’s 751 seats, let alone a majority, but analysts predict a major electoral breakthrough that is certain to disrupt European politics.

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European parliamentary elections will take place on May 26. I’m old enough to remember the early elections in which my wife’s socialist cousin refused to According to Erlanger, Nigel Farage’s party will swell the ranks and influence of populists in the European Parliament, where Britain has roughly

A look at the methodology Team Populism used to chart surge in populism .

European Elections Will Gauge the Power of Populism© Francisco Seco/Associated Press The European Parliament in Brussels. Populists are not expected to win a majority, but could achieve an electoral breakthrough.

“For the first time, we’ll see meaningful populist representation at the European level,” said Mujtaba Rahman, managing director for Europe for the Eurasia Group, “so there is at least a risk of a populist insurgency trying to take over or paralyze institutions from within, with implications for Europe’s capacity to act.”

Before this weekend, Russia had not been a major issue in the elections, if one at all. But the close ties between Austria’s Freedom Party with Russia are hardly an anomaly.

Mr. Salvini, the leader of the populist League in Italy, has long been outspoken in his praise of President Vladimir V. Putin and once wore a Putin T-shirt at a meeting of the European Parliament. Ms. Le Pen is strongly pro-Russia and her far-right party once received loans from a Russian state bank.

For years, Mr. Putin has cultivated ties to extremist parties in Europe as allies in his effort to encourage political fragmentation in the European Union. Many of the Continent’s mainstream parties have regarded Mr. Putin with either wariness or outright distrust, while many populist leaders have called for closer ties to Russia.

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Senior EU source says surge in anti- European parties could create a ‘mess’ in parliament.

A larger populist presence in the next European parliament is a growing concern in Brussels and other key EU capitals. It could deny the mainstream right and left The populist 5Stars Movement and right-wing League in Italy emerged as the largest parties in elections earlier this year and in Austria, the

Russia is clearly interested in the outcome of the European Parliament elections. European Union investigators, advocacy groups and academics say websites and social media accounts linked to Russia are spreading huge amounts on online disinformation intended to discredit the mainstream parties in the run-up to this week’s races.

Agata Gostynska-Jakubowska, a senior research fellow with the Center for European Reform in Brussels, said the Austria scandal is timely ammunition for those who warn that many populist parties are deeply compromised by their ties to Mr. Putin.

“It emboldens those who question the populists’ good intentions and who call for greater transparency in the way these parties have been funded and investigations into their links to Russia,” she said.

European politics have been fragmenting since the financial crisis of 2008, and populist anger deepened after an influx of migrants from Africa and the Middle East, reviving some of the Continent’s oldest and ugliest impulses.

Anti-Semitism is rising. Anti-elite and anti-immigrant sentiments remain acute. Nationalist and identitarian movements are gaining clout, while once-marginalized neo-fascist parties have become more vocal.

Yet if the populists once vowed to shatter the European Union, they have softened their agenda to match public attitudes. Polls in member states, minus Britain, show that voters, if unhappy with their current circumstances, want to change the bloc rather than destroy it. That is why leaders like Mr. Salvini and Ms. Le Pen talk about altering the European Union from within.

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Invoking hot-button issues like migration, terrorism and Islamophobia, far-right and far-left populists place blame on remote bureaucrats in Brussels and call for devolving more power to national governments. They hope the election will both gum up Brussels and give them extra leverage in domestic politics, which is what many of them care most about.

On the campaign trail, the populists have dominated news media attention.

Mr. Salvini, Italy’s powerful deputy prime minister, is campaigning so often that critics say he is almost never at work. A bevy of photographers documented his meeting with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban along the Serbia-Hungary border, as the two men hoisted themselves up into a watchtower to stare across the empty frontier with binoculars — the way American officials like to stare at North Korea from Panmunjom.

“To defend the borders and the safety of our children,” Mr. Salvini tweeted, as he urged a vote for his party.

Even if the different populist groups do win a sizable number of seats, analysts question whether they will coalesce into a powerful coalition, given matters of ego and ideological differences. Mr. Salvini has been trying to present himself as the natural leader — even as others disagree — and recently announced an alliance of populist, far-right, anti-immigration, euroskeptic parties called “Toward a Europe of Common Sense.”

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At Saturday’s rally in Milan, Mr. Salvini and the populist leaders from other countries took the microphone to rally the crowd. Ms. Le Pen earned cheers when she began to speak and promised the crowd that they “are living in a historic moment and you can tell your grandchildren, ‘I was there.’ ”

But she spoke in French, and many others spoke in English, causing one supporter to shout, “Enough with all this English! We want Italian!”

Austria did not come up at the Milan rally. In the past, Ms. Le Pen has praised the Austrian Freedom Party and its leader, Heinz-Christian Strache (the vice chancellor who resigned hours before the rally).

Asked about Austria before the rally, Ms. Le Pen called Mr. Strache’s troubles a domestic matter and questioned the timing of how the video surfaced a “few days before the election.” She said that the populist movement remained united “in our conception of cooperation in Europe, our shared desire to protect our citizens, our common refusal to see our country being subjected to the submergence of migration.”

Opinion polls suggest that populist parties could win up to 180 seats in European Parliament, enough to create serious delays and difficulties. Ms. Schaake, the Dutch legislator, said that “the real story is fragmentation and what will happen in the center.” The populists will not agree on everything, she said.

“But they can make a mess.”

In addition to passing or rejecting laws, European lawmakers have new powers that could allow populists to block trade deals, approve the bloc’s budget and play an important role in determining who will replace the European Union’s most powerful leaders.

Voters, meanwhile, are unpredictable. Any registered voter in the 28 member states can vote. But turnout is usually low in European races, which gives advantages to motivated, more narrowly focused populist parties. A study of the electorate by the European Council on Foreign Relations found Europe’s voters more volatile than polarized.

Immigration, the main topic for many populists, ranked only third among European voter concerns, behind Islamic radicalism, much of it homegrown, and the national economy.

“Swathes of voters,” said Mark Leonard, the council’s director, “are moving fluidly between parties of the right and left.”

Indeed, if many voters are attracted to the populists, the study showed that many others are terrified of them, and the growing nationalist sentiment.

Jason Horowitz contributed reporting from Milan.

Read more

European Parliament Elections: 5 Biggest Takeaways.
The most prominent takeaways from the results of the elections for the European Parliament are fragmentation and polarization. Credit Cards Are Now Offering 0% Interest Until 2020 Find out more on Finder Ad Finder.com.au Fragmentation, because traditional mainstream parties of the center-right and center-left lost seats to smaller, more passionate parties like the Greens and a variety of populist groups. And polarization, because populists and euroskeptic parties increased their share of seats to 25 percent, up from about 20 percent five years ago.

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