In Spectator USA, Fredrik Erixon outlines the increasingly populist turn European politics are making, and notes that in France, populist-extraordinaire Marine Le Pen is leading Emmanuel Macron in polls of for the next presidential election. Erixon writes (abridged):
It’s hard not to feel sorry for Leo Varadkar. He positioned himself as Ireland’s champion and even ended up with a decent deal. He expected some kind of electoral dividend in the snap election as he urged voters to stay away from the dangerous fringes occupied by Sinn Fein. Instead, they turned to Sinn Fein in record numbers — ending the two-party system that has governed Irish politics for a century.
In Ireland, this is unprecedented, but it fits a trend for Europe as a whole. Voters have been rebelling against old, established ‘center-ground’ politics.
In Spain the left-wing populists, Podemos, recently cut a deal with the socialists to back Pedro Sanchéz as prime minister.
The Law and Justice Party in Poland are frequently attacked as authoritarian, but this didn’t stop them from being re-elected last year with 44 percent of the vote, more than the next two parties combined.
The populist Five Star Movement is still the senior party of government in Italy.
In France, polls now put Marine Le Pen ahead of Emmanuel Macron for the next presidential race. Macron’s own party is beginning to crumble.
Then there’s Angela Merkel. For years, she has urged voters to reject Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) as far-right extremists. But she’s now struggling to persuade her own party
Merkel is, of course, on her way out. Her anointed successor, Annegret Kramp–Karrenbauer, a standard bearer for old German centrism, also resigned as CDU party leader this week.
In my country, the Sweden Democrats are now topping the opinion polls — which is extraordinary when you remember that only a few years ago they were denounced by almost everyone as extremists with roots in the neo-Nazi movement.
The lesson, from Dublin to Dusseldorf, is pretty clear: Europe’s old political centre is a dead parrot.