Election Puts Europe on the Front Line of the Battle With Populism

If Europe has been an incubator for far-right populism in recent years, after its elections it now feels more like a battleground for polarized voters.

Comments: 116

  1. What a dark way of reporting our elections! The green parties are the overall winners in Europe and in some countries, like my own, the Euro skeptical parties did lose convincingly. This may show that the new generation cares and will take better responsibility. I fear that this way of reporting stalls despair and defeatism, and we must always lean towards the light. Best wishes, Caroline

  2. Yes I agree about leaning to the light. And the article had a point of view first and then decided to support it rather than taking in the whole picture. And the fact is although Australia did re-elect a centrist right government, the leader is FAR from a “strong leader”. He is no where near in the mold of the others with which he he is grouped. Unfortunately, a left agenda, while appealing to many who care about survival and future generations, strike fear into the hearts of those who feel their livelihood is under severe threat but such policies - and who feel completely left out of the issue, or worse, feel they are supposed to feel somehow guilty that the feel as they do. If the Greens and left leaning parties are REALLY going to carry the day, they have to stop talking and start listening to those people. Their concerns are real and deserve answers to them - and a way forward.

  3. @Caroline Hendriks The article will not seem dark if you understand that the journalists are political activists. Informed Americans realize this and so we don't take the NYTimes seriously. Instead, we understand the bias and take that into account. For example, in this article countless quotes from left-leaning "experts" are used to advance the writers' views, while essentially no positive perspective on events from right-leaning commentators appears. This is to be expected, and it helps you to realize what the main take-away here is: the establishment leftists have gotten weaker in this election and the will of the common people is once again infuriating the left, who knows better.

  4. @T M How convenient for you to label the votes of a 20-30% minority as "the will of the common people." And to label analysts as "left-leaning 'experts'," using quotation marks to imply that their comments are just as ignorant as yours. It's pretty clear to most readers where you're coming from, and it's not a place where most of us wish to go.

  5. Those who wish to tun back the clock need look no further back than the 20th century for examples of fratricidal violence tearing Europe apart. Those with any sense will look to the time since they've joined the EU, and the benefits they've gotten in the forms of subsidies, trade, free movement of labor and capital, remittances from citizens working abroad, and inclusion in a common currency union. Turning your back on the EU is a slow-motion train wreck, as the British keep failing to understand.

  6. Yes, to Caroline; we must retain hope that there is still a small majority of decent people. The Anti-Brexit parties DID win more UK votes - but split 3 ways. The big vote for Farrago was a worry of course, but as with his masters Trump/Putin the competence deficit will (I hope) cause their downfall. We must hold our nerve - but never lower our vigilance. AND understand some of the reasonable concerns of the "left behinds" plus be more aware of national variations.

  7. The word 'populist' would seem to imply that these leaders are for 'the people', and will enact policies which benefit 'the people'. I haven't seen any of them deliver much yet... I think we'll be waiting for a very long time.

  8. I just want to add an interesting information to this article: in 2014 the Italian Democratic Party reached 40% in European Elections and lost two thirds of it in only a couple of years... Even if you win 34% of votes in Italy there's absolutely not to be sure that you will be able to maintain it for long.

  9. This is bad reporting, especially the headline. Europe has now a mixed group of people who will stimulate the discussion about our continent and its place in the world. The old left/right parties are dying and the idea of a more conscientious attitude towards nature and our place in it is maturing politically.

  10. Good ol USA, leading by example again. Liked our brand of bustling democracy? Shining city on a hill? Wait til you try our latest fad: Burn-it-down populism! Heck, we'll even export you a Steve Bannon so you can get your own brand started as soon as possible. Can't stop winning!

  11. Your map shows the share of votes in the Czech Republic for Eurosceptic parties in the range from 40-50%. The only obviously Eurosceptic party that achieved any meaningful vote was the SPD, at 9.14%. Which other parties do you include as Eurosceptic in calculating your percentage? All of the other parties are just normal-ish parties on the mainstream spectrum, with no particular animosity to the EU.

  12. Some of the reasons for the rise of populism in Europe is its Establishment's hold over political and cultural power, and their often disparaging attitudes and concomitant lack of connection with the average person. An example: Last year Macron of France announced tax increases on fuel which in terms of disposable income would have disproportionately affected the working classes which, coming on the heels of already steep rises in fuel costs, left him, his government and class, open to accusations that it is squeezing already stretched workers in a way that shows indifference to them and their living conditions as compared to their own. Add to that that the fact that immigration from Islamic countries directly affects working class local infrastructure, culture and schools, in a way nowhere near that of the Establishment's, one has to close one's eyes to fail to see the legitimacy of the " populist's" [a political term coined to avoid acknowledging the legitimacy of the working class] discontent, and the potential for increase, if they're not taken seriously. Democracy has inconvenient elements, among them the right to equality and cultural respect, a reality which when disregarded by the ruling class has historically caused social and political unrest. As such looking back to the "good old days" trying to maintain their sociological/political status quo isn't likely to calm the troubled waters.

  13. @Sam Maybe because elite leaders, whether Left or Right, always "know better"?

  14. I personally believe that the right populist gains are a direct result of both corporatism which has resulted in the neglect of lower class and middle class workers and strong fears of immigrants. These two factors probably account for most of the right wing populist victories though countries will vary in which factor has had the most impact. I do believe that without the fear of immigrants generated from the turmoil in the Middle East, the sway of right wing populism would have been mitigated.

  15. @John what so many of these voters don't realize is that the so-called populists (certainly Trump and arguably the "strong man" leaders in other countries) are in bed with the "corporatism which has resulted in the neglect of lower class and middle class workers." They think they're voting to overturn the arrogant establishment, but they're actually reinforcing it to their own detriment.

  16. @John It is older then that to be honest, but partially you are right. In the Netherlands we had Pim Fortuyn, shot dead in 2002. He wandered from very left to nationalistic right side of the political spectrum, maintained real socialists views and solutions, yet was backed with big money (real estate a lot btw). He (Pim) understood the fears of the middle class workers and business owners with no or little staff. That fear was the changing economy due to immigrants from Poland ,who are now using Rumanians to do their work in Poland ;-) for that matter. Islam, muslim immigrants was also (still is) a big fear for a variety of reasons, one of them being culture. We see culture changing cause it changes so fast these days due to internet, social media etc that we can really experience the change "online". Too fast from too many angles, and it seems politicians are unable to handle it. The turmoil in the MidEast , at first US caused, nice followup by Putin and some real global warming issues , solely hurts the social fabric of Europe. But these elections also show that there is a lot of positive influence that bounces back towards this.

  17. @EveT You're absolutely right, and it's so sad.

  18. Maybe small correction what being EU skeptic means here in Poland because I think the term 'populist' is misused here. We are skeptic about building EU which is based on liberal values which we perceive as being based on some sort of cultural Marxism philosophy. That sounds a warning bell in East-European nations which just get rid out of Communist dictatorship era. We rather see EU constructed in different way, as a union of rather independent nations, without any socialist super-government saying us what is forbidden and what is allowed. We are just trying to be realistic because history gave us a tough lesson and we just see that Brussels liberals are doing the same mistakes which started communist nightmare in the past.

  19. I believe that comparison of the elections for European parliament, and domestic elections in the member countries is hazardous, and may underestimate the intelligence of the electorate. Democracy leading to tyranny? Referenda, such as the one in the UK are blunt tools that democracies should avoid (also in my own country, The Netherlands). Brexit may turn out to be a folly (read Barbara Tuchman, The March of Folly, for how the Brits lost America in the same way), but it may have opened the eyes of the people in Europe, for the good. Europe also has an unintended role as the punching bag for countries whose governments have done a particularly lousy job (Italy, France, United Kingdom); from 1890 or so until 1939 there wasn't a punching bag for nationalists other than people in other countries, or the Jewish minority. In that unintended role Europe actually does what it was supposed to do by its founding fathers! The most important lesson from these elections is that a supermajority of voters not only don't want to tear down Europe, but also have made the future of the planet their overarching priority. This may well be a pivotal point in history, and it seems that political leaders in Europe (e.g. in Germany and France) have understood that message. This is the most potent antidote against unrealistic nostalgia and shortsighted nationalism. There are green shoots of a strengthening of the moderate left.

  20. Selfishly, I'm looking forward to Italy leaving the EU, devaluing their currency and going back to a lira, giving the dollar extreme buying power. Just what Rome needs, more American tourists!

  21. Digitalization of economies= Too many people and too few jobs Throw in massive population increases in Third World countries with people who will work for almost nothing. The middle classes of Europe and the US are up the creek without a paddle. These are demographic problems that are politically impossible for both the left and right.

  22. Euroskeptics clearly have no memory nor appetite for history. Before the EU, there were centuries of bloody destructive wars fought over infinitesimal blocs of land and resources, destroying both. Since the EU, Europe collectively is the second most wealthy and largest economic force in the world. But — hey — who would want the latter when you can have blood and soil?

  23. What is a populist? If it were me talking about being a populist it's meaning would be working for all of the worlds peoples not just a few. Isn't it time the so called pundits and others to use the word correctly?

  24. Ireland has the least right wing popularity parties because it is a nation that has recently liberated its collective consciousness from one of the most oppressive, corrupt and immoral institutions on earth. The Roman Catholic Church. The Irish know what it’s like to live under such ignorance and oppression and poverty. I fear the rest of Europe, predominantly the old iron curtain and larger wealthier northern nations seem to have forgotten.

  25. @Fire Maybe those former eastern European nations are struggling to recover from their own past oppressive, corrupt, and immoral institution: the Soviet Union. And the fact that the USSR imposed its reign of terror under the banner of the Left.

  26. It is a paradox that Poland has such a strong Euroskeptic movement since it has benefited so greatly from being part of the European Union. Poland’s nationalism, xenophobia, antisemitism, homophobia and Islamophobia are truly frightening. Some Poles even think of modern Europe as being some kind of German imperialism although its capital is Brussels.

  27. @Robert Dole Poland is not "Euroskeptic", the polls indicate high acceptance of EU. The "populist" party of PIS is simply more interested in improving life of common people. Jews are very safe in Poland (not so in Germany and France)and their culture is celebrated in an amazing Warsaw museum Polin and many cultural festivals.

  28. The EU election results on 26 May 2019 have clarified two developments which are both disturbing and scary for the middle-of-the-road political mind: 1. About 25 % of voters across the continent cast their ballots for patriotic/nationalist parties of quite different persuasions. EU proponents may not share them, but in a democracy they must respect them. Beware of hysterical political rhetoric against them because this rhetoric may just stoke the nationalists’ fire. 2. In Germany, 26-year old Rezo, a “YouTuber”, who is marketed by online advertiser Ströer Digital Media in Cologne, has posted sharp-tongued statements against the CDU/CSU (center right) and SPD (center left) parties. A week prior to Election Day, his movie was clicked more than 11 million times. I note that on Election Day more than one million each of former CDU and SPD particularly young people have voted for the populist Green movement. Although a YouTuber may be (rightfully) protected by the “freedom of speech” act in federal law, the inquisitive mind will have to search for closer ties between capitalist commercialism and the green movement with Rezo its modern-day propaganda master. The greens, for all their noisy demands about climate and environment, have failed for years to propose realistic and politically sustainable solutions for today’s important problems. Will 26 May 2019 turn out a black Sunday for democracy?

  29. In the EU voter preference is at least reflected. Long live democracy. Unlike in America.

  30. The EU election shows that the remain parties (Liberal Dems, Greens, Scottish National, and Change UK) earned 39.4% of the vote, while the Brexit parties (Brexit and UKIP) earned 34.9% of the vote. Labor earned 14.1% and the Conservatives earned 9.1%. This indicates that the sentiments of the British people are leaning toward the remain camp.

  31. Largely ignored by this piece is the surge of the Far Left. The Greens may be pro-Europe, but that doesn't make them less dangerous.

  32. Largely ignored as inconsequential. You can see the right winning in Asia, Europe, USA, the left getting trounced, and you call that a raise of the left?

  33. @John Smythe The Greens dangerous ? Danger of making you eat vegetables without pesticides ? Hilarious .

  34. Unearned wealth over the past thirty years due to incessant money printing/ inflation, policies that favor capital over labor, caused stagnant wages and inequality to spike, and is at the core of this backlash. All else is the effect of this money grab by the 0.01%. Until, this is fixed, we are just laying the groundwork for a violent revolution.

  35. @MS Somehow I can’t imagine a violent revolution happening in America; it is too polyglot, too diverse, too complacent, the police too heavy handed.

  36. It's not really populism. It's more like the clown parties, the ones which just want to throw sand into the system, and have charismatic leaders who don't want to understand policy. The headline gets it correct to this extent. Europe is on the frontline of the battle against the clown parties. The US (Trump) and the UK (Farage and Bojo) have already surrendered.

  37. @abo That is clearly part of it, one side of the cube. A stable rational system will correct for that.

  38. Populism is the wrong word. Neo-Fascism is what it is, so enough with euphemisms.

  39. 2020 preview. If Philly is an indicator, the Left had no chance. Then again, if you champion open borders, erase ICE, reparations for some at the expense of the hard workers, identity politics, socialism and AOC, there's no reason to vote for you.

  40. @AutumnLeaf Please enlighten me on these so-called 'reparations'. We hand out countless billions to our farmers to grow crops we don't even need...that to me is an example of pointless 'repartations'.

  41. @Tim S. And let's not forget that handing billions in tax breaks to billionaires "at the expense of the hard worker" is also acceptable to people like AutumnLeaf up there. And as for identity politics, the poor, put-upon, anti-immigrant crowd plays the "identitarian" game as well as anyone else.

  42. @AutumnLeaf The Left won the European elections by far advanced majority. What bad film are you watching ?

  43. Populism is what you get when people become tired of waiting for the dominant political system to improve their condition. It is a cry for help. When it attains great proportions, the state is in danger of falling uno the hands of autocrats who promise easy solutions. The trouble is that rarely are they able to deliver in their promises and they usually make things worse (Venezuela, for example). However, the failures of these fabulists does not relieve the establishment of ignoring their just complaints. Often remedies are not easy to find but the responsibility to make serious and continued efforts is the price we pay for social stability.

  44. Politicians willing to capitalize on people's economic and cultural insecurities are ascendant in the world today. They peddle the same old stories about how only people who look like us or speak our language or share our religion are worthy of regard. That worldview predominated in the early 20th century and it led not to native prosperity but to an almost unimaginable world war and all of the attendant horrors it brought. It seems clear that people who refuse to learn from history are indeed destined to relive it, apparently over and over again. Try to imagine a replay of WWII today but with modern machines of war and nuclear weapons. That will not lead to any one nation's supremacy but to the destruction of the whole international order that brought stability to the world for almost 80 years. At some point in the future our willingness to be lead by unscrupulous populists will unleash horrors which will doom humanity. Perhaps this cycle will be the one which finally kills the dream of all of us living together for everyone's benefit and the preservation of our planet.

  45. @Jim Dickinson I think that we must continue to educate the people in order to prevent that from happening. Steady the ship, right the course, check it and alter it as events progress.

  46. In continental Europe, as in the United States and Britain, the populists have made gains because the establishment has done too little to protect workers against the consequences of unfair trade with low-wage countries, and of massive immigration from impoverished ones. This is ancient pattern, the public turning to extremists of the left or right when the establishment becomes too feckless or corrupt. Theodore Roosevelt warned against it. So have many others. With Donald Trump acting like a dictator, Britain about to fragment the EU, and the victory of Salvini, the time for complacency has passed. Do we not remember the French Revolution, the Russian Revolution, the rise of Fascism? Extremism is like a bacterium that colonizes the skin and remains harmless until we neglect a cut. The mainstream political parties have lost touch with the needs of blue collar workers, and it is urgent that they change that.

  47. @Josh Hill In this instance, the majority of the European public did not turn to far-right extremism/nationalism/populism.

  48. @Danielle Treille History tells us you don't need a majority.

  49. @Danielle Treille and for all the commentators who think it is "business as usual" in Europe and that NOTHING changed on Sunday. This is from the Guardian the most pro EU broadsheet and Liberal in the UK. https://www.theguardian.com/news/audio/2019/may/28/brexit-divide-britain-eu-election-podcast The EU IS shaken and needs to reform and it needs to dial back it's ridiculous expansion project. It is not 1932 all over again in Europe and some of my American friends need also to dial back the rhetoric. We are NOT descending into some Totalitarian abyss please have a little more faith.. Strangely enough , lot of venom, bile and contempt for the USA (even under Obama) comes from the more fothing die hard supporters of the EU and continuation of Jean Monnet's " grand projet". It is strange how some in Europe who define themselves as "Internationalists" are selective of which countries they wish to be brotherly to.

  50. Among the PIGS (Portugal, Italy, Greece, Spain), Italy seems singularly least appreciative of the EU's effort to stabilize its economy.

  51. @Chrisc That would be ignoring the fact the EU destabilized these countries to begin with. The PIGS are less developed economically than their Northern counterparts and relied on monetary policy that favored weak currencies to boost exports. Under the Euro, national monetary policy was no longer possible and strong Euro policies favored by countries like Germany crippled PIGS exports.

  52. @nick @Chrisc Italy is not the "I" in PIGS. And Germany needs the strong Euro to finance investment into PIGS + Poland et al. They'd prefer to export more I'd bet. Just as we would.

  53. @Chrisc Yes, although you may too recall the bitter backlash presented by Greece in the weeks following it’s required belt-tightening.

  54. As an amateur WWII historian, these are scary times in Europe. This nationalistic movement in Europe is the very same type of movement that introduced Fascism in Italy and Germany in the 1920’s-30’s. All that was needed was a black swan event like the 1929 stock market crash to begin the ball rolling. Was the 2008 financial crisis the modern catalyst? Is there yet another black swan event that will occur which will push the world into war once again? I shudder to think about it. If history has ever taught us anything, it’s that history is cyclical, it repeats itself.

  55. @Mike L Yes well hopefully, the dark cloud passing with Trump and all he stands for will hopefully be taken for the anomaly it is. Facebook is now being taken to task for allowing the deceit to be spread as it was, that propelled him into office by the gullible readers/voters who swallowed the Russian inspired propaganda that was disseminated on that immature populist media organ with a clear intent of poisoning our erstwhile fair democratic process.

  56. With pro-Europe liberal mainstream still in favour and command while the populist fringe yet to win the hearts and minds of the European people to sound convincing, it is high time for the Brussels ruling establishment to push reset button on redefining the European agenda more realistically and effect democratisation on the decision nmaking so as to make the EU more relevant and reflective of the common aspirations in changing circumstances. This will soon expose the passion driven populist euphoria for what it is and how it is going to be a short lasting bubble likely to be burst sooner than expected.

  57. @Prof. Jai Prakash Sharma Yes, to hearken back to the days of pre-war Germany would, hopefully, be a stretch.

  58. I would very much like to see tables with complete election results by country and by party -- give me the analysis, too, if you want, but give me the actual data, as well, please.

  59. @Rachel Kreier Easy. Go to the website of the EU.

  60. Not "populism". What it really is: ethnic nationalism. By and large it supports oligarchical government and cronyism. By using the word "populism" we are complicit in the cultural and political atrocity these movements represent.

  61. @Fresno Bob Yes that is evident in reading the text of the article though one must extrapolate some to get there. The term populism would be akin to popularity, which indicates extraversion, hegemony and exclusion.

  62. This article tells an exciting but misleading story. After all the pre-election hoopla about rejection of the EU and a swing to the populist right, the result of the election was that it basically didn’t happen. Traditional parties didn’t do too well, but not from a movement to political extremes. In France Macron’s party was slightly behind Le Pen’s, but that was because there was a separate liberal party in this election to split the vote. In Britain, the Brexit party got most votes, but that was because the anti-Brexit votes were similarly split among several parties. Brexit actually lost this election, and one can hardly blame the Brits from showing disgust with the governing Conservative clowns. Most other countries showed static populism, and a split but not radical population. The was no evidence of strong anti-EU sentiment. Italy was a particularly strong outlier, with populism swamping everything else. The right story is that populism remains, but Bannon’s dream of a rebuilt Europe just plain didn’t happen.

  63. Using the word 'populist' to describe racist authoritarians who want enforced hierarchy and the public treasury to be used as a slush fund for private enterprise is a misnomer that is normalizing the ascension of vile demagogues. You would think that journalists would recognize giving fringe right demagogues the friendly nickname 'populists' puts their livelihood in danger.

  64. @MatthewG No, "populist" also describes the extreme left-wing parties. I abhor the right-wing extremists, but the left-wing ones at least in my country, for which I have only a little more sympathy, are just as dangerous to representative democracies (not to mention economies).

  65. For at least my lifetime politicians have paid little attention to their constituents. Apparently this is true in Europe as well. It is a difficult time to be alive if you are fond of the old ways of governing, but some of us see these times as an opportunity to address the big issues of the day that affect the entire world: income inequality and climate change.

  66. @wolfie I agree with your sentiments, however I was at first taken aback by your comment on "the old ways of governing". I fear that the desire to not have to take responsibility for actions leads to people like those we see leading the USA, Hungary, Poland and Italy. The easy way out. I fully agree with your big issues!

  67. Nationalism? A mawkish euphemism that providesd a thin veneer of false cover for bigotry, fear, hate, and ignorance. Chalk up another mark in the "win" column for Trump, as he spreads his cheery and overly simplistic vision for the world. It looks more like the early 1930s every day, except that there's no economic depression; when we slide into the inevitable cyclical downturn, this Reich-like fervor will grow like the cancer it is.

  68. Ah, so I guess “Reich” means something other than Empire. Maybe you should study the difference between Imperialism and Nationalism, re-review your history of the German Reich and the Japanese Empire, and then get back to us with a new and more informed take on the causes of WW2. Because nationalism ain’t it, Chief. And anyone with an education in history that goes past junior high could’ve told you that. Seriously, what’s with all of these “nationalism causes wars” takes? Every one of them cites the Third Reich. Do people not realize what Reich means? Do they not realize what the other 2 Reichs were? The historical ignorance is astounding.

  69. Populism isn't the problem. It's the type of populism. You have Right-wing Trump populism using fear to get people to punch out or down at minorities or vulnerable people, blaming them for their problems; or you have Sanders/AOC populism where you punch up at the people who have power and have systemically ruined the world we live in. The first is dangerous, the second is necessary.

  70. @Jeffrey K Have you been to Southern Europe lately? I don't me on a canned vacation, but actually among the people. Immigration has been a complete and total disaster.

  71. @Epicurus I have lived in Europe and you must talk to different people than I do. Most of my friends are horrified by the far right,

  72. @Epicurus The situations in the Middle East and Central America are a total disaster. Of course you have a better solution for migrants and refugees?

  73. We are at the time when the nations of Europe must decide if surrendering their independence is worth the price to stay in the EU. Migration has made that loss of independence real. If a nation can't control the flow of permanent residents, is it a nation or merely a vassal state? There are many benefits to EU membership but the price is high and not all nations benefit equally from membership. The EU does not have a genuine upper house that represents each nation equally and has legislative powers. It means that parliament politically marginalizes smaller member states who are already marginalized economically. The EU created a wonderful monetary and trade union and the troubles today are merely a reaction to an increased political union. Do you want to surrender your independence as a nation?

  74. @dudley thompson Why can't a nation remain a nation while having compassion for those whose lives are at risk due to war in their countries? A nation isn't confined by borders but by the limited thinking it embraces.

  75. @dudley thompson firstly, if smaller members are marginalized, how come countries like Austria, the Netherlands, Slovakia, Czech Republic and Sweden are doing so well? Italy's problems are home grown. Period. And what independence are the nations surrendering? They have to abide by common, agreed rules. The problem is that the nationalist tendencies in Italy, Hungary and Poland forget that they sacrifice solidarity for their short-lived and short-sighted agendas. And for good measure, the nationalist-governed Poles receive the biggest part of the EU budget and do the least for it.

  76. There is a reason that the (non-Islamic) world formed itself into nations. They cater to the interests of compact units of people with similar social, religious, historical, and economic similarities. And ever since the nation state replaced the chessboard of monarchy syndicates in Europe in the 1600's it has been enormously effective in harnessing government in the interests of the people it governs. Ultimately it led to democracy. In 1992, the EU threw all that overboard when it decided to change the structure of Euroepan integration from a mere common economic market to a post-national super government. It was always a fantasy, and it failed. Now we'll see if the intellectual and bureaucrat elite there can dial back the dreams they hatched in university political science departments and deliver a product that actual serves the interests of the public and not the the fanciful utopianism of the intellectual class. The betting here is they can't, so we will be seeing more and more of people like Matteo Salvini and Nigel Farage.

  77. Wouldn't it be amazing if (before it's too late) mankind discovers that controlling one's own hatred and fear through trying more to love one's neighbor -- worldwide -- would stop the excessive heat and storms of climate change?

  78. It is misleading to use labels like "populism" and "identity politics" in the European context. "Nationalism" would be a better description. It is a force opposed to the EU taking sovereignty from the nation state. It is not surprising that an assertive EU should engender hostility. What's new is that the grumbling and dysphoria is beginning to coalesce into political movements. As in any democracy, pro-unity forces in the EU must make their case to the people if they expect to prevail.

  79. When the left-wing candidates run on populism, we call that "progressive." and see it as expanding democracy. When right-wing candidates do the same, we call them "reactionary" and view it as a threat to democracy. Populism across the globe is an expression of frustration by people who have been left behind in the economic boom. The difference is that when liberals are the ones who benefited most (Hollywood and media elite, hi-tech entrepreneurs at Google, FB, Tesla, etc.), they see populism as harmful to their political views, when it is really a reaction to their excesses at the expense of the poor.

  80. @Liberty hound Fair comment. I think the use of "Nationalism" is more appropriate.

  81. @Liberty hound Another difference is that the right wing "populism" is largely fake, like Trump's. It is just a cover for oligarchical authoritarian government--shredding health and social services, environmental and labor laws, making the world safe for corruption, cronyism, with no way to hold accountable those in power. Yeah "populism"

  82. @Liberty hound The last time we had right wing populists calling the shots and setting policies we had WWII. That really didn't do much for the worked class, now did it? My hope is that these guys are anti-immigrant and nothing else. Somehow I doubt it when I see the rest of their policies in Poland where the judiciary is no longer a separate arm of the government. People left behind in the economic boom do not have to fear immigration. They are left behind (read the studies) because they lack the education and skills to compete and because the misguided welfare states in Europe throttle the capitalist spirit.

  83. The last time these nationalists were in power was just before World War II. Throw in climate change, nuclear arms buildup and Putin, the puppet master and you add gasoline to put out the fire. Ominous is one way to look at it.

  84. While the overall outcome of this election between the anti-European Unionists and right-wing nationalists was fairly predictable, my greatest relief was reserved for Germany which in spite of its going solidly for the Alternative für Deutschland (AfD), instead went overwhelmingly for the Greens and the Conservatives -- much to the disappointment and chagrin of the Socialists. The significance of this is not to be underestimated. Especially given its history and the fact that it is now sandwiched between France, the Netherlands and Poland, which have set their courses on a stringent anti-immigrant, populist path. There's no doubt the shadow of Donald Trump's nationalist 'America First' stance has figured prominently in this election and potential dissolution of the European Union, just like it threatens to undo our own. And between the rise of strong men and potential dictators across the planet, the future of Democracy looks anything other than guaranteed.

  85. It is very important that Europe maintain the EU. The EU along with NATO has stablized Western Europe and given it a great deal of propesperity and peace since WW II unlike much of of European history. If immigration is the major problem, then address it in a democratic fashion. Put some limits on the movement of people from outside and within the EU in a way that meets the concerns and needs of the member states.

  86. Please explain the difference between these "populists" and "fascists". I'm having trouble distinguishing them. I notice that the Le Pen family includes both.

  87. This type of ideology will only lead Europe and the world back to a system of warring City States.

  88. Mr. Salvini may be basking in the sunlight now, but late at night when he checks the vault, he knows it won't be long before the chickens come home to roost. Debt laden Italy (where the youth unemployment rate is 33%) is perhaps only one banking crisis away from a financial melt down, and only the EU will have the resources to save it. The reality of that will overwhelm his populist rhetoric, as he goes begging towards the hand he is now biting.

  89. The European Parliament is a joke and that goes to the heart of the EU's challenge at maintaining legitimacy. Voter turnout is low because the Parliament has no power, which allows a bunch of non-serious people to get elected, including the Greens as well as the demagogues. The power in the EU is vested in an unelected commission -- it's anti-democratic by design to keep power away from the public and in the hands of a small group of elites who are supposed to know best for everyone. Until they don't.

  90. @Chris Gray Sure, however we have the most laughs from the US type of democracy. Voter turnout is higher then for a US president, the commission is not unelected. It is elected from national leaders (voted in office by the nations) and must be fully approved by the EP. But sure your electoral college is a landmark in democracy , right?

  91. @Chris Gray well you clearly don’t have a good feel for how it works. The parliament is made up of elected parliamentarians who set laws which do impact across the union. It may not be perfect and yes the turnout is low but no worse than many voting nations. It get lambasted and lampooned by nationalist politicians but pushes what is predominantly a broad based view for European citizens despite the waffle of many. It’s hard for ‘the elites’ to influence hundreds of parliamentarians of differing political views.....

  92. @Chris Gray The Green are not serious people ? They are the only ones to attend the most serious problem : the ecology .

  93. Don't you wonder if the rise of nationalism around the world was given a boost with the election of Donald Trump? After all, if the greatest country on earth can elect an autocrat, how wrong can it be? We lead the world's economics and culture. But democracy is hard work. We need an informed and motivated electorate to steer the ship of state in the right direction. Donald has not demonstrated that he knows what course we're on. His entire administration -- especially including his cabinet -- is slapdash and desultory. If Donald is soundly defeated in the upcoming election in favor of a return to democratic principles, other nations will follow. That's our role in the world, whether Donald understands it or not.

  94. Natalie Tocci, senior adviser to the EU's foreign policy chief, declares Salvini's attempt to form a populist group in European Parliament “completely irrelevant.” Oh, my, this makes me laugh! She would say that, wouldn't she? Ms Tocci's boss, the aforementioned foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, a member of Italy's Partito Democratico, has been completely useless in Italy's attempt to stem the flow of refugees coming from Libya. Her party, the Democratic Party (of Italy), was completely useless at this too, pretending first that there was no problem, then when it was clear that there was a problem, pretending that it was a "good"problem, then finally being completely wiped out in the election of 2018 by Salvini's La Lega and 5 Star. Salvini is not a dictator in waiting. There has never been the slightest indication that he wants to do away with democracy. On the contrary, he is a master politician. And, most of all, he has done in one short year in office what all the centrist party whiners have not even attempted, much less succeeded, in doing: he has slammed the door shut on illegal migration and cut it down to almost (but not quite) zero. Which is why he won by such large numbers in the election in Italy a few days ago. He deserves our praise, not reprobation.

  95. Johnson, Salvini,Le Pen, Oban, we are truly spoilt for choice.

  96. “I will use this consensus to try to change European rules that are damaging the Italian people,” he said. Translation? "I will use this to try to bludgeon the European Commission to change the rules to benefit myself and my party."

  97. Populism: derogatory term for democracy; used when democratic outcomes don't agree with the user's ideology.

  98. @RCWrong. On the contrary populism is when everybody thinks the same. Good exemples: fascist Italy and nazi Germany before and during WW2 . 80 $ of the Italian population was fascist and 80 % of the German population was nazi. Of course they all thought they were special and that the rest of the world was not nice with them.

  99. The core problem of the EU is that there is no functional political system that ties together financial, military, and border policies across Europe. Fact is that during pre-Euro times, countries like Italy and Greece frequently devalued their currencies to deal with their poor financial management. This is now not possible any longer because of the fiscally conservative Germans. Fact is that Italians and Greeks pay less taxes than Germans. Why should Germans pay for that? Facts is also that the EU pretty much abandoned the southern border, leaving countries like Italy and Greece to fend for themselves. Germans took in millions of immigrants due to their collective guilt about WWII putting undue pressure on other countries to do the same, which caused a backlash. Poland, Hungary, Italy all radicalized because of that. The French are trying to stay French. The British don't know what they want but think they can get their empire back, etc., etc. The problems are manifold with no easy solution in sight.

  100. @Brian Will Pointed & true observations about the current European political condition. The simple fact is that the hardcore Eurocrats were far too ambitious in their dreams of a United States of Europe. There was/and is simply no way anyone was/is going to force together in a tight political/economic union peoples as diverse as Italians, Germans, Greeks, Spaniards, Swedes, Poles, and Hungarians (to name just a few of the member nations). It was sheer madness to try. There will not be "an ever greater union" to a United States of Europe. It simply won't happen. At this point, a few steps back to reconsider this madness is in order, and I think the so-called populists will slowly force this to happen. A much more modest confederation of European nations along the lines of the now-defunct European Economic Community would probably work fine for all, and would avoid the stress & pressure that the EU has brought to Europe via its insane rules.

  101. There were times when colleges were much more affordable, and homes. When specific states did not have child poverty rates of 30% or more. When working a full time job assured you could support yourself, and probably a family. When people talk about wanting to achieve those things again, is it phrased as wanting to return to a"bygone era"? No. People say, we used to have this stuff, and both politicians and voters look for ways to get some of them again. But somehow when it comes to "nationalism" and anything that could possibly pertain to that, wanting to achieve something that used to be in place, isn't any more, and is perceived as a loss, is characterized as useless wishful thinking by people who won't get with the program. That's spin. Pure and simple. And it's what is giving rise to a lot of the nationalism occurring around the world.

  102. Google's definition of populism: "a political approach that strives to appeal to ordinary people who feel that their concerns are disregarded by established elite groups." Sure sounds like something that Europe needs to "Battle" alright.

  103. More voters then ever, especially in the age of 18-25. A large growth in Green-LibDem and new parties with a strong view (from the left or right side) on democracy. And yes a bunch of nationalists aswell. The Dutch PVV & Wilders however are gone (one of the first to rise in Europe's nationalists movement). We'll see what happens if voters learn that the left and right on the outsides just cant deliver as this is not how democracy works in Europe and European countries. Multiple parties, forced to work with each other, does soften (or normalize) hardline election talk, we all know that in Europe, are used to it and actually expect it to be like that. Nothing gets eaten as hot as it is cooked.

  104. America, with its regressive electoral system and early adoption of social media, “led the free world” into this quagmire of fake news and demagoguery that elected the Russian-conspirator Trump to our Presidency. And now, just like electricity, the telephone, automobiles, the airplane, television and the computer, the rest of the free world is following America’s lead into this quicksand. But now, America is leading the free world away from this abysmal debacle: our press is exposing the fake videos that Giuliani tweeted and which Trump cited as fact; women voters are rallying to reclaim control of their health and safety; a new generation emerges demanding equitable health care and education. Now we see our “leader” always says the opposite of the truth. When he says there is no climate change, we know that really means there is a lot of climate change — the polar caps are melting, and water is flooding the heartland, coasts are inundated with hurricanes, forests ignite and destroy entire towns in an instant. When he says there was no collusion, no obstruction, we really know it was all collusion and all obstruction. When he says there is a tax cut, we know it is really a boondoggle for the 1 percent, and the rest of us will pay. When he says he is an expert negotiator, we know our farmers and small businesses will lose — and he must bribe them with costly subsidies, paid for by the rest of us, to buy back their support. We see through it all. Mr. Opposite.

  105. Plenty of people in the UK voted for the Brexit party. I’m wondering why their performance wasn’t included on the map.

  106. Most interesting The UK vote. Putting to rest the canard that we did not know what we were doing, mislead, and uninformed when we voted for Brexit in 2016 Because by now, we have been informed

  107. @Lars I don't understand how you can reach that conclusion based on the vote totals. 52% of voters in 2016 voted for Brexit, but only roughly 32% voted for the Brexit party in this election and less than 45% voted for pro-Brexit parties, including the percentage who voted for the Tories, although not all Tory voters or Tory MPs support Brexit. If anything, the vote totals suggest that at least several percent of those who voted for Brexit may have changed their minds or have decided that they were not, in fact, well-informed about Brexit and may believe they were misled when they voted for it.

  108. And while Europe and the US tear themselves apart from within, China waits and Russia laughs.

  109. 5 star in Italy is hardly a right wing party. And France during their last presidential election violated the same norms that Hungary violated in its last election, but no one minded since a europhile was elected. So lets pretend that this is about democracy or any such nonsense. Its only about protecting the EU. And whatever does that is permitted and whatever violates that is branded as evil.

  110. The extreme right representants at the European parliament have already proved that they are unefficient and unable to argue or work at the real task which is discussing and writing laws. Le Pen and Farage are considered like clowns in the EU parliament. Same with Salvini. They have no political power and they also have proven that they don't attend the sessions and all they do is cheat with the money appointed to their delegations. Le Pen has been prosecuted and Farage as well. The so pretending pourfendeurs of corruption are the most corrupt.

  111. Sorry, NYT, but the tremendous effort to pretend there was a massive EU populist victory simply doesn't hold. '...Some 75 percent of voters still backed parties that support Europe, blocking a major populist victory. Pro-Europe parties like the Greens picked up unexpected gains.' '...a rejuvenation of the European political space by new Green voters and liberals, “the nationalists did not do as well as many feared.” But finally, the new Brexit Party was not a pop up British Party but a rejuvenation of the former UKIP Party under UKIP's former leader. Despite massive publicity, it only increased by 2% over its 2014 share, despite the defection of hard Brexit Tories. Oh, and the EU Voter turnout increased to 50.4%.

  112. Talk about burying the lead, but what do I read halfway down the page. Some 75 percent of voters still backed parties that support Europe. So, really it’s a case of move-long, folks; nothing much happened. But if the big battle the headline predicts ever takes place, it looks like an easy 3-1 win for the EU. Geez, Louize. After all the drama the NYTimes has been promising, that’s kinda disappointing. Yeah. I remember. Two years ago: Germany was about to go neo-Nazi. Last year: France was about to fall to the Front Nationale. This year: Spanish Falangists were only a short goose-step from power. Yeah. And for god knows how long you've been predicting Brexit was about to splinter the EU's entire sorry edifice. Of course, none of it happened. Victor Orban and some other wack-jobs ruling the roost in a few ex-soviet ex-worker-paradises do not constitute the seismic shift you guys were predicting. O. Yeah and the Italians carried on being Italians. Let me know when you figure out the date for the next San Francisco earthquake. I’ve always wanted to visit, and that should be the safest weekend of the year.

  113. If the pre-election coverage in this newspaper and other media outlets was accurate, it would appear that a couple of hundred million people in Europe just voted for representatives for the European Parliament, a body that the voters don't really understand all that much about, such as how it works, and what impact it has on their lives. And now everyone is trying to interpret the results, with surgical precision, but end up just boiling it down to basically a Facebook "Like" on Populism or the EU; thumbs up or thumbs down. Kind of surreal.

  114. Now the question is already about deciding the heads of the European institutions : The president of the Parliament in Strasbourg, who to replace Antonio Tajani ?, the director of the European commission who to replace jean Claude Junker ? , the director of the European council, who to replace Donald Tusk ? Also who to replace the Diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini? And who to replace the director of the Central European Bank , Mario Draghi ? Merkel and Macron don't have the same ideas.... With the question of "heads of lists ( politicl lists ) or " spitzenkandidaten ". Macron is against that idea to politicize the presidency. of the Commission. And does not support the German candidate by the PPE and Merkel ,the Bavarian Manfred Weber, with no real experience. There is the dutch Franz Timmermans, who has great experience and speaks 7 languages but he is considered too "european " progressist by the right wing east Europeans. Then there is the possibility of Margarethe Vestager who attracts the desire of seeing a woman at the presidence . She was at the Commission of Concurrence ( monopoly )and lead the fight against the US corporations ( Apple, Facebook, Google, Amazon, etc )who operate a gigantic tax evasion on the European budget. She should be a very exciting candidate.

  115. So we have been wrong about weimar and the fascists ? They have not been an one-time anomaly in the western society. But now we should have all the knowledge to prevent this happening again. So why are we so powerless to stop it ?

  116. @Mathias Weitz The problem is that half of Americans think of it in a positive way. That is scary .