Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Can the European Union hear us now? Populist victories send a message to politicians

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Voters across Europe spent the weekend sending a message to the EU’s political class: a nationalist and populist shift is happening across the continent.

The European Parliamentary election held over the past few days saw the biggest wins for nationalist and populist parties in European Union history.

As the results poured in across Europe, the media spun the news as an ominous “far right” victory throughout the EU.

News outlets made it seem as if fascism had once again reared its ugly head over Europe after eight decades of liberal peace and prosperity.

This couldn’t be further from the truth.

The so-called “far right” resurrection is really just the mainstreaming of widespread and rising anger as ordinary voters focus on issues that establishment parties in Europe have refused to touch.

For decades, globalists in Brussels promised the people of Europe that mass immigration wouldn’t affect their culture and could deliver mass prosperity, that a green economy could unlock an economic boom and save the planet and that fears of Islamic terrorism were merely racist.

The political class used every fear tactic they had up their sleeves to stop Europeans from noticing what was so obvious: That they were losing their own countries.

Nowhere is this more true than in Germany, where both the center-left and progressive political establishment have ushered in a series of terrible ideas for more than a decade — from Angela Merkel’s decision to allow more than 1.7 million refugees into the country, to Olaf Scholz’s ambition to push a “green economy” that has led to two years of near-zero economic growth.

Nationalist shift

Alternative for Germany, or AfD, a bombastic national populist party, emerged out of that frustration in 2013. While AfD leaders have stuck their collective feet in their mouths a number of times with extremist rhetoric, the level of scrutiny placed on them has dwarfed any other party in Europe.

They were investigated by the federal government and heavily fined. Several prominent politicians have called on them to be banned outright.

Despite all this controversy, the AfD came in second place when Germans voted in the EU parliamentary elections, with exit polls showing it as the most popular political party among voters in the former East Germany, blue-collar workers and even voters under the age of 25.

All these groups felt compelled to vote for the nationalists — no matter how unbecoming their messaging in polite society — because the system as it stands is not working.

Mass immigration and left-wing economics have made life harder for German citizens and are making them feel like strangers in their own country.

Likewise in France, President Emmanuel Macron’s party Renaissance received less than half the support of Marine Le Pen’s National Rally party.

For the last eight years, Macron has portrayed himself as the leader of pro-EU politics across the continent, the heir apparent to Merkel. All the while, tensions have been boiling over inflation, immigration and preserving French identity in a multicultural country.

Le Pen and her protégé Jordan Bardella had a simple message that spoke to the French people: Vote for us and we’ll stop the mass immigration that is destroying France and making it unrecognizable to native citizens.

New political ‘center’

“We have the courage and lucidity to say that if France becomes the country of everyone, it will no longer be the nation of anyone,” Bardella said in the closing weeks of the campaign. “With the deregulation of migration, totalitarian Islamism does not only give its fanatics an order to separate themselves from the French Republic, but also to conquer it, in order to impose its laws and morals.”

National Rally won a plurality of the vote in every region of France, among every age demographic and in every job category. If anything, the “far right” is more mainstream than the so-called centrists are in France.

Macron’s defeat was so complete that he called for new elections for the French legislature to be held this summer, three years ahead of schedule.

Likewise, in neighboring Belgium, Prime Minister Alexander De Croo announced his resignation after his party did poorly in not just the EU elections but also their federal one.

In a dozen countries across Europe, the parliamentary elections saw nationalist populist candidates ascending.

With federal and regional elections looming in France, Germany and elsewhere, the results of the EU election could be a sign of further shake-ups to come.

Ryan Girdusky is the author of “They’re Not Listening: How The Elites Created the National Populist Revolution.”

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