The push back against the progressive left’s agenda that culminated in the election of President-elect Trump had been gaining steam for a while now and not just on this side of the Atlantic.
Faced with poor economic growth, an influx of refugees, a sense of losing their national identity, and a variety of country-specific reasons, the entire Western world seems on the verge of the same sort of election-revolution we just witnessed in America.
Heralded as the “the liberal West’s last defender,” Angela Merkel has been under intense pressure based on her open door policy to refugees, and she now finds herself feeling the growing dissatisfaction of the German people even more powerfully than before Trump’s victory.
Germany’s chancellor, Angela Merkel, has emerged as the last powerful defender of Europe and the trans-Atlantic alliance after the election of Donald J. Trump. But after 11 years in power, she is tired, her associates say, and under siege seemingly from all directions.
She is under pressure from the same forces that elevated Mr. Trump in America, fueled Britain’s vote to exit the European Union and are now propelling the populist Marine Le Pen in France. At home, the hard-right Alternative for Germany party has scored a string of victories in state elections.
. . . . For the last eight years, Ms. Merkel could count on the steadfast backing of President Obama and France’s Élysée Palace. But with the ascent of Mr. Trump and the deep unpopularity of President Franςois Hollande, she has lost that vital backing.
Those who follow Ms. Merkel closely say that she is weary of grappling with Europe’s troubles, and that her close circle, always small, is more defensive and withdrawn after last year’s migrant crisis, which has weakened her politically. Still, she is under pressure to run for a fourth four-year term, a decision expected by early December.
“She’s the last one standing, and that makes her both strong and weak at the same time,” said Stefan Kornelius, one of her biographers and a political analyst for the daily newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung. “She’s a pillar of stability, the last wall, and people want to lean against it.”
The BBC notes that the core of Merkel’s agitation may be in her continued resistance to the anti-establishment populist movement sweeping not just Britain with the Brexit vote, but much of Europe.
But, as Mr Trump prepares to take office, arguably Mrs Merkel’s greatest challenge is how to hold her country – indeed the EU – together.
Because what’s really got German politicians so jittery is that in Donald Trump’s victory they see parallels with the sweep of right-wing and populist parties through Europe.
Germany itself goes to the polls next year. The established parties are losing votes to the anti-migrant, anti-Muslim Alternative for Germany (AfD).
As the Gatestone Institute observes, the anti-establishment movement across Europe greeted news of Trump’s victory with hope.
Anti-establishment politicians, many of whom are polling well in a number of upcoming European elections, are hoping Trump’s rise will inspire European voters to turn out to vote for them in record numbers.
Commenting on Trump’s victory, Dutch lawmaker Geert Wilders, wrote: “America has just liberated itself from political correctness. The American people expressed their desire to remain a free and democratic people. Now it is time for Europe. We can and will do the same!”
One great Trump supporter who played a pivotal role in the Brexit vote is Nigel Farage, who recently met with President-elect Trump.
— Nigel Farage (@Nigel_Farage) November 12, 2016
Farage discusses 2016 as the “year of the political revolution,” watch:
Other European leaders were equally enthusiastic and hopeful that Trump’s win signaled a desire for change across the Western world.
The Gatestone Institute continues:
Austria. The leader of the Freedom Party, Heinz-Christian Strache, congratulated Trump on Facebook. He wrote: “Little by little, the political left and the out-of-touch and corrupt establishment is being punished by voters and driven from power. This is a good thing, because the law comes from the people. The Austrian mainstream media, which has been campaigning against Trump for weeks and prematurely declared Hillary Clinton the victor, were embarrassed by the voting public.”
Belgium. The populist Vlaams Belang (Flemish Interest) party congratulated Trump and said his unexpected election victory could be repeated in Europe. Party chairman Tom Van Grieken tweeted: “U.S. election shows again how far politicians are from the people.” In another tweet, he wrote: “The rise of Trump is not an isolated phenomenon. In Europe too, more and more voters want real change.”
Britain. Prime Minister Theresa May said: “I would like to congratulate Donald Trump on being elected the next President of the United States, following a hard-fought campaign. Britain and the United States have an enduring and special relationship based on the values of freedom, democracy and enterprise. We are, and will remain, strong and close partners on trade, security and defense.”
The leader of the UK Independence Party, Nigel Farage, who successfully campaigned for the “Brexit” referendum for Britain to leave the European Union, said Trump’s victory did not surprise him.
He tweeted: “2016 is, by the looks of it, going to be the year of two great political revolutions. I thought Brexit was big but boy this looks like it is going to be even bigger.”
. . . . Speaking to ITV, Farage said: “The political class is reviled across much of the West, the polling industry is bankrupt and the press just hasn’t woken up to what’s going on in the world.”
. . . . Czech Republic. President Milos Zeman said Trump’s election was a victory over “media manipulation.” He said: “I would like to cordially congratulate Donald Trump. I had, as one of few European politicians, declared public support for this candidate because I agree with his opinions on migration as well as the fight against Islamic terrorism. I appreciate Donald Trump’s public demeanor. He speaks clearly, sometimes roughly, but understandably, and avoids what is sometimes called political correctness.”
The list goes on to include responses for the anti-establishment (and some pro-establishment) leaders across the Western world; it’s well worth reading them all.
The French seem particularly ready to embrace the sort of populist change that the UK’s Brexit vote and Trump’s election have shown is entirely possible.
Again from Gatestone:
France. . . . . Laurent Wauquiez, leader of the opposition party The Republicans, said: “In a democracy, when the people feel ignored and despised, they will find a way to be heard. This vote is the consequence of a revolt of the middle class against a ruling elite that wants to impose what they should think.”
The leader of the National Front party, Marine Le Pen, tweeted: “Congratulations to the new president of the United States Donald Trump and the free American people!”
Le Pen’s father, party founder Jean-Marie Le Pen, tweeted: “Today the United States, tomorrow France.”
Indeed, newly-appointed Chief Strategist and Chief Counselor to President-elect Trump has reached out to Le Pen’s niece and offered to work together, though specifics of Bannon’s offer are not yet known.
— Marion Maréchal (@MarionMarechal) November 12, 2016
It was a moment of intense French patriotism on a sunny Friday, Armistice Day. A band blared “La Marseillaise,” the national anthem. Shouts of “Vive la France!” filled the chilly November air. And there, too, was Marine Le Pen, leader of the far-right National Front party, beaming.
Before Donald J. Trump’s presidential victory in the United States this week, Ms. Le Pen was considered a disruptive political force but far from a true threat to become president herself when France votes next spring. Not anymore.
Since Wednesday, French news outlets, along with Ms. Le Pen’s mainstream political rivals, have been repeating the same thing: It could happen here.
. . . . Ms. Le Pen in many ways stands as the most prominent leader of Europe’s far right. The French political establishment was in consensus this week that the news from the United States had put new wind in her political sails.
“Mrs. Le Pen could win in France,” said the former Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin, usually known for his sobriety.
A cartoon on the front page of the leading daily Le Monde this week showed a grinning Mr. Trump giving the V for victory sign while a winged Ms. Le Pen happily flew away, with the caption, “Marine Le Pen feels wings grow.”
The feeling isn’t limited to France, of course, and in Italy and Austria, Trump’s victory has also inspired change that pushes back against the progressive trends that have marred the Western world for far too long.
The New York Times continues:
Populist leaders, not necessarily of the far right, who have mounted insurgent challenges to longstanding political orders were similarly buoyed by Mr. Trump’s victory, like Beppe Grillo, the leader of the Five Star Movement in Italy.
“They called us sexists, homophobes, demagogues and populists,” Mr. Grillo wrote in a blog post. “They don’t realize that millions of people already no longer read their newspapers and no longer watch their television.”
The idea that Mr. Trump’s supporters had delivered a double blow — to the establishment’s ideas and to the “elite” itself — had wide support.
“The left and the corrupt establishment, which considers itself so superior, are being punished blow by blow by the voters and voted out of various positions of responsibility,” said Heinz-Christian Strache, leader of the Freedom Party of Austria, a serious contender to win the country’s presidency on Dec. 4.
Of course, what is considered “right-wing,” “nationalist,” “anti-establishment,” and etc. varies across the West and encompasses a range of political parties and ideologies. But if this populist uprising and rebuke of leftist progressive social, economic, and political policies does end up sweeping across Europe, we are looking at monumental—and relatively rapid—change of deep, historical consequence.DONATE
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