Monday, June 6, 2016

Austrian Election Highlights Nationalism Driving European Politics

Like the U.S. presidential election, European politics is being driven by a strong trend of national sovereignty and anti-immigrant sentiment. The May Austrian presidential election made clear the weakness of the center parties noticeable throughout Europe and the rise of anti-immigrant, anti-EU/Brussels political parties. The Austrian left, with a Green presidential candidate, beat the far-right candidate by less than one percent of the vote.

The election was characterized by many of the elements of the U.S. presidential election:
  • The tone was less civil
  • Many comments and positions would have been highly incorrect just a few years ago
A quick scan of the 2016-2017 election cycle in Europe makes clear momentum, if not majorities, is running with the right. The EU and open borders are on the defensive.
  • In France, President Hollande has barely 30 percent approval and the National Front appears competitive in the 2017 national elections. 
  • Germany’s Chancellor Merkel still holds her right, and the left parties, as of yet, do not appear to have a strategy to win a national election – but she and her party are clearly on the defensive. Merkel’s future is in question.
  • Nationalistic forces in a host of countries (Netherlands, Switzerland, Sweden and Great Britain) are threatening center- right and left governments. In Poland and Hungary, they now control the government. 

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