Across Europe, Voters Turn Against The Populist Right

Photo : AFP

After a series of reverses, they are down, but certainly not out

From The Economist :
Look back a year, and remember how disquieting European politics seemed. Matteo Salvini, by far the most popular politician in Italy, and France’s equally xenophobic Marine Le Pen had just teamed up with Steve Bannon, Donald Trump’s former strategist, as part of what Mr Bannon called The Movement.

This alliance of nativist parties of the right, soon to acquire a “gladiator school” based in a monastery near Rome, intended to sweep the forthcoming European elections and tilt the continent’s politics firmly away from the liberal centre ground. They had their difficulties, of course.
The Eurosceptic and anti-migrant Alternative for Germany (AfD) decided to steer clear of Mr Bannon, and other right-wingers were wary too. But, with or without the American Svengali, populists seemed in the ascendant. In France the gilets jaunes (yellow jackets), who drew support from the radical right and left, were about to explode onto the streets.
The scene today is rather different.
The European Parliament elections in May dashed Mr Bannon’s hopes. Mr Salvini’s Northern League did do well. But elsewhere the parties of the hard right fell back, or at best marked time.
Since then, things have on the whole got worse for them. Salvini is out of Italy’s government, having bungled an attempt to secure uncontested power, and has fallen back in the polls; in Hungary, Viktor Orban’s populist ruling party faces the threat of losing control of the country’s capital, Budapest, and perhaps other cities at local elections later this month. The gilets jaunes have been tamed by President Emmanuel Macron.
And this week came the news that another key component of the populist right, Austria’s, has come to grief at the ballot box.