Thursday

22nd Feb 2018

Opinion

Trump's victory won't help far-right EU parties

  • Le Pen gushed over Trump on Twitter (Photo: europarl.europa.eu)

Nigel Farage must have had a great time these past few months. First, he spearheaded the successful Brexit campaign in the UK in June. Then the MEP’s fellow political arsonist, Donald Trump, set the US system on fire by winning November’s election.

Farage was the first British politician to speak to the US president-elect and joked about Trump groping Theresa May, the British prime minister, in an allusion to Trump’s comments, which emerged during the campaign, that he liked to grab women by their private parts.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • Farage (l) has emerged as Trump's best friend in Europe (Photo: Reuters)

Trump even said Farage should be the UK’s new ambassador in Washington, but Farage was not the only one uplifted by the US events.

While liberal Europe still mourns the outcome of the US election, right-wing populists on this side of the Atlantic are rejoicing at what they see as their side’s biggest victory to date.

The AfD party in Germany highlighted its parallels with Trump throughout his campaign. Joerg Meuthen, one of the party’s chairmen, said Trump’s election was proof that “it is possible to be successful against the mainstream media and political establishment”.

In France, the National Front party’s leader, Marine Le Pen gushed over Trump on Twitter and said on TV that he had "made possible what had previously been presented as impossible”.

Some of the parallels are real.

The alt-right movement in the US, on whose back Trump came into office, is the American equivalent of European right-wing populism. It fosters racist and nationalist feeling and tries to appeal to an alienated and humiliated working class.

The drum beat of right-wing parties in Europe is right to cause anxiety due to the upcoming elections in France and Germany next year.

There are also reasons to doubt that Trump’s victory will help Meuthen or Le Pen's causes, however.

The far right in both in France and Germany contains a significant anti-American segment.

Rooted in the former US leader’s, George W. Bush’s, disastrous “war on terror” and cultivated by Russian propaganda, the image of a capitalist, globalist, and imperialist US is a firm fixture in far-right constituencies.

Over the course of the next months, Trump will have to make deals with powerful political and corporate stakeholders who will try to steer him in their direction.

Neoliberal and hawkish elites in the Republican Party will lobby him on behalf of the US military, the US arms industry, the energy industry, and Wall Street.

US manufacturers and exporters more broadly will try to undo Trump’s protectionist promises.

These forces could quickly transform the Trump administration into something resembling Bush 2.0.

The president-elect said in his campaign that he would “bomb the shit out of Isis”, the jihadist group in Iraq and Syria, but a Trump war on terror would disqualify him as a figurehead for many European populists, especially in Germany.

It would also mobilise the European left, in the same spirit as the anti-Iraq war protests under Bush in 2003.

The Le Pen notion - that if Trump is possible, then everything is possible - is also problematic.

His success was not the sensational upset that some media said it was by reference to pre-election opinion polls.

Trump did not create a grass-roots political movement from scratch, but rather hijacked an established party, the Republican Party, in American’s two-party system.

Perhaps 40 percent of Americans tend to vote Republican as a matter of principle.

Add to that his opponent’s, Hillary Clinton’s, wild unpopularity and it did not take so many angry poor white men in swing states to bring Trump to office.

In France and Germany, it is the other way around.

The AfD and the National Front would have to win between 20 percent and 30 percent of new voters in national elections next year to follow Trump to victory.

They have already saturated the potential far-right vote in their respective societies, so they would have to conquer new ground in the political centre.

It is not impossible, but it is a different and a more difficult challenge than Trump faced.

The AfD, the National Front, and others like them would need more than racism or Trump-type misogyny and vulgarism to make headway.

If Europe does get through next year without any Brexit or Trump-type shocks, that alone should be small comfort to centrist and pro-European forces, however.

Right-wing populism in Europe has its own momentum and underlying causes that will not quickly go away.

Liberal democracies in the West have to learn lessons from the events of 2016 and have to regain the trust of those parts of European society who feel economically and culturally excluded from the mainstream.

Even if the AfD and the National Front do not triumph next year, the seeds of Europe’s potential destruction will continue to grow if there is no real change.

Florian Lang is a German post-graduate student at the University of Vienna, specialising in European far-right movements

Austrian candidates both seek Trump effect

Donald Trump's victory is enlivening Austria's presidential campaign - one side seizing on it as a sign that the masses are rising up, the other depicting it as a stark warning of the dangers of demagoguery.

Fillon leads French right primary as Sarkozy falls

The former French president came third in the first round of the centre-right primary election on Sunday. Francois Fillon, a pro-Russia conservative, is the new favourite for next year's presidential vote.

Investigation

The rise of the German alt-right

Ahead of Sunday's German elections, a growing number of anti-establishment, anti-Islam websites have created an echo chamber for the radical right.

Greek government's steady steps to exit bailout programme

Growth predictions are positive, exports increasing, unemployment dropping and credit-ratings up, says the head of Greece's Syriza delegation to the European Parliament. Now the government in Athens is looking to design its own reform programme.

News in Brief

  1. Report: EU to increase sanctions on Myanmar
  2. Juncker 'worried' by Italian elections
  3. EU migration to UK at lowest since 2012
  4. MEP Andrieu will chair parliament pesticide committee
  5. Juncker's right-hand man warns of 'institutional blockage'
  6. Greek parliament to open probe on PMs and EU commissioner
  7. May gathers Brexit ministers to hammer out UK position
  8. Tajani asks Juncker for all EMA Brexit relocation documents

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EPSUMovie Premiere: 'Up to The Last Drop' - 22 February, Brussels
  2. Aid & Trade LondonJoin Thousands of Stakeholders of the Global Aid Industry at Aid & Trade London
  3. Macedonian Human Rights Movement Int.European Free Alliance Joins MHRMI to End the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  4. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Tourism Year to Promote Business and Mutual Ties
  5. European Jewish CongressAt “An End to Antisemitism!” Conference, Dr. Kantor Calls for Ambitious Solutions
  6. UNESDAA Year Ago UNESDA Members Pledged to Reduce Added Sugars in Soft Drinks by 10%
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsUzbekistan: Investigate Torture of Journalist
  8. CESICESI@Noon on ‘Digitalisation & Future of Work: Social Protection For All?’ - March 7
  9. UNICEFExecutive Director's Committment to Tackling Sexual Exploitation and Abuse of Children
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region 2018: Facts, Figures and Rankings of the 74 Regions
  11. Mission of China to the EUDigital Economy Shaping China's Future, Over 30% of GDP
  12. Macedonian Human Rights Movement Int.Suing the Governments of Macedonia and Greece for Changing Macedonia's Name

Latest News

  1. EU leaders to kick off post-Brexit budget debate
  2. Greek government's steady steps to exit bailout programme
  3. Frontex: Europe's new law enforcement agency?
  4. Poland and Greece broke EU environment laws, rules court
  5. Dutch MPs vote on ending 'Ukraine-type' referendums
  6. Corruption report: Hungary gets worse, Italy makes progress
  7. UK seeks flexible transition length after Brexit
  8. Commission defence of Barroso meeting leaves 'discrepancies'

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Dialogue PlatformBeyond the Errors in the War on Terror: How to Fight Global Militarism - 22 February
  2. Swedish EnterprisesHarnessing Globalization- at What Cost? Keynote Speaker Commissioner Malmström
  3. European Friends of ArmeniaSave The Date 28/02: “Nagorno-Karabakh & the EU: 1988-2018”
  4. European Heart NetworkSmart CAP is Triple Win for Economy, Environment and Health
  5. European Free AlllianceEFA Joined the Protest in Aiacciu to Solicit a Dialogue After the Elections
  6. EPSUDrinking Water Directive Step Forward but Human Right to Water Not Recognized
  7. European Gaming & Betting AssociationGambling Operators File Data Protection Complaint Against Payment Block in Norway
  8. European Jewish CongressEJC Expresses Deep Concern Over Proposed Holocaust Law in Poland
  9. CECEConstruction Industry Gets Together to Discuss the Digital Revolution @ the EU Industry Days
  10. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Relations in the New Era
  11. European Free AlllianceEnd Discrimination of European Minorities - Sign the Minority Safepack Initiative
  12. Centre Maurits Coppieters“Diversity Shouldn’t Be Only a Slogan” Lorant Vincze (Fuen) Warns European Commission