Europe passes on populism

Thursday, May 18, 2017
 | 
Chad Groening (OneNewsNow.com)

Marie Le PenA longtime political scientist says it's obvious that Europeans failed to catch the populist movement that swept Donald Trump into office last year. 

In the recent French presidential election runoff, populist Marine LePen took a pounding from pro-European Union candidate Emmanuel Macron.

Meanwhile, in the recent state election in North Rhine Westphalia Germany, the nationalist Alternative for Germany garnered only seven percent of the vote while Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats took 33 percent.

Dr. Charles Dunn, professor emeritus of government at Clemson University, says the nationalistic political forces in Germany failed to get behind an established leader. LePen obviously emerged as that leader in France, he says.  

"But she did not have a credible record as a leader to mount a successful campaign. So that means the center holds," Dunn observes.

In the closely watched German elections, Merkel's party did so well in a state that normally goes for its rival party.

Angela MerkelNorth Rhine Westphalia is Germany's most populous state, and for most of the last 50 years it has been dominated by the Social Democrats, who hope to unseat Merkel's Christian Democratic Union in this year's national elections.

But the CDU won 33 percent in the election for the state legislature, with the Social Democrats garnering just over 31 percent.

Winning in the heartland of the Social Democrats could be an indication that Merkel may weather the Muslim refugee crisis she created and win a fourth term as chancellor.

"Populism right now is somewhat like conservatism was in America, back in the fifties and sixties. It's out on the fringe," Dunny says. "And it has potential to continue to rise."

But that would require leadership, a crisis situation, and sufficient cultural change to bring that about, he adds.

 

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