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Trump victory emboldens Europe’s rise of the right

Updated

November 21, 2016 12:07:09

Donald Trump’s victory and June’s Brexit vote have empowered right-wing, anti-establishment groups across Europe.

A string of elections will reveal if the US result is a one-off or a trend to rising nationalism.

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France

Marine Le Pen
Photo:

French National Front party leader Marine Le Pen. (Reuters: Jean-Paul Pelissier)

France begins voting in April next year in an election that could be an early litmus test of the momentum of nationalist movements.

National Front leader Marine Le Pen is believed to now have a serious shot at the presidency with the Socialist Prime Minister Manuel Valls saying Mr Trump’s victory had boosted her chances.

High unemployment, immigration and terrorism has helped increase the popularity of her party, while at the same time Socialist President Francois Hollande is hugely unpopular.

But Ms Le Pen will have tough competition if she makes it through to the presidential run-off.

The centre right-wing party Les Republicains is holding American-style primaries to choose a candidate, narrowing the choice to former prime ministers Alain Juppe and Francois Fillon.

European Parliament

The number of right wing, populist and anti-establishment members elected to the European Parliament surged in 2014, with France’s National Front the poster child of the movement.

Donald Trump on stage with UKIP leader Nigel Farage
Photo:

European Parliament members aligned with Nigel Farage have seen their influence increase. (AP: Gerald Herbert)

They are not a unified bloc but politicians aligned with Ms Le Pen and Nigel Farage (UKIP) and have seen their influence increase in the 751-member Parliament.

There are two major groups: Europe of Nations and Freedom (led by Ms Le Pen with 39 members) and Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy (led by Mr Farage with 45 members, including Italy’s Five Star Movement).

The next elections will be held in 2019.

Netherlands

Geert Wilders talks to the media
Photo:

Geert Wilders visited Australia last year. (ABC News: Glyn Jones)

The future of the EU and high immigration are having a major impact on Dutch politics and could influence elections next March.

Mr Trump’s victory has energised controversial politician Geert Wilders and his Party for Freedom.

The 54-year-old described the US vote as the start of a “Patriotic Spring”, tweeting his support with the hashtag #MakeTheNetherlandsGreatAgain.

Mr Wilders is currently on trial for alleged hate crimes but is polling well and will go up against the incumbent Prime Minister Mark Rutte who remains the favourite.

Denmark

The Danish People’s Party (DPP) is already a powerful force in Denmark.

It came second in last year’s general election and the Government now depends on it for support.

Since then, Denmark’s immigration laws have been tightened further and immigrant benefits have been cut.

The DPP is also pushing for an “Australian-style” system of processing asylum seekers offshore in Greenland.

Like other populist Scandinavian parties, the DPP is Eurosceptic; it opposes multiculturalism, supports the Monarchy and more defence spending.

It has often been described as far-right by international media outlets, but by European and Australian standards some of its polices are relatively moderate.

It opposes tax cuts for the very wealthy and has promised to protect Danes on welfare.

Sweden

Sweden does not go to the polls again until the second half of 2018.

But several opinion polls suggested support for the nationalist Sweden Democrats (SD) was rising.

Some analysts even think the party could prop-up a future centre-right Government.

Sweden accepted 160,000 asylum seekers in 2015, which was the highest per capita rate in Europe.

The SD think unease over the continent’s migrant crisis has helped them.

They believe multiculturalism in Sweden has failed and eventually want no asylum-based immigration.

Although the party finished third at the 2014 election, all other groups refuse to deal with the SD and their influence in parliament is limited.

Germany

In the second half of 2017, Germany’s conservative Chancellor Angela Merkel will seek a fourth term in power.

One major stumbling block could be the nationalist party Alternative fur Deutschland (AfD), which is hoping to win its first seats at a federal level.

Originally founded as an anti-euro political movement, its focus has turned increasingly to immigration, integration and Islam, issues thrust into the limelight by Ms Merkel’s decision to welcome 890,000 asylum seekers in 2015.

In September, AfD shocked the country’s political establishment when it pushed the Chancellor’s Christian Democrats into third place in a regional election.

While the party seems unlikely to take Ms Merkel down, commentators say the rise of AfD is already pushing the Government’s policies to the populist right.

Poland

The right-wing nationalist Law and Justice Party swept back into government in October 2015, vowing to restore traditional Polish identity and values.

The country’s Prime Minister Beata Szydlo compared Mr Trump’s victory to her party’s own success of tapping into voter discontent with ruling elites.

Tens of thousands of people have recently protested the Government’s plan to ban abortion but there is no sign the party’s momentum is slipping.

The European Union has warned that Polish democracy and media freedoms are being eroded.

Hungary

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban
Photo:

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban welcomes the Trump presidency. (Reuters: Michael Dalder)

Hungary already has a populist right-wing Government.

Viktor Orban from the Fidesz party became Prime Minister in 2010.

He is a Euroskeptic, tough on asylum seekers and introduced a flat income tax of 16 per cent in 2011.

Mr Orban was the one of head of state in the EU who welcomed the election of Mr Trump.

Yet there is another party trying to outflank Mr Orban and Fidesz on the populist right.

The Jobbik party has consistently advocated for a total ban on immigration and has strong ties with the Kremlin.

Its leader Gabor Vona is also trying to ride off the back of Mr Trump’s victory, hoping to win in 2018.

“What we have in common is the demand for change,” Mr Vona said.

Austria

On December 4, Austria could become the first European democracy to elect a far-right head of state since WWII.

Freedom Party candidate Norbert Hofer lost the presidential ballot in May by just 31,000 votes, but the election is being re-run after irregularities in the count were exposed.

The former aeronautical engineer is opposed to free trade deals, wants a ban on “economic migrants” and supports the lifting of EU sanctions against Russia.

He is known to carry a Glock pistol while campaigning.

While president is largely a ceremonial role in Austria, the position includes strong executive powers.

A general election is due in 2018 and the Freedom Party has been ahead in the national polls since mid 2015.

Italy

Founded in 2009 by comedian Beppe Grillo, the Five Star Movement (M5S) began as a protest against corruption, cronyism and globalisation.

M5S has become the second most popular party in Italy.

It considers itself to be neither left nor right. It is pro-environmentalism, in favour of tighter controls on immigration and opposed to the Euro.

M5S is leading the campaign against Prime Minister Renzi’s December 4 referendum to push through constitutional reform.

If the referendum fails, Mr Renzi may resign.

National elections are not due until 2018.

Recent polls have seen M5S four to five points behind the ruling Democratic party.

Mr Grillo celebrated Mr Trump’s victory saying, “it is those who dare, the obstinate, the barbarians who will take the world forward”.

Matt Martino

Topics:

world-politics,

elections,

european-union,

france,

netherlands,

poland,

germany,

denmark,

italy,

austria,

sweden,

hungary

First posted

November 21, 2016 11:55:58