European Populism in the Age of Donald Trump

A populist groundswell, newly bolstered by voters’ rejection of the Italian government’s referendum on Sunday, has been building across Europe since the global financial crisis, and it has found a voice in parties on both ends of the political spectrum. The election of Donald J. Trump in the United States has energized some insurgent European parties as they seek to overturn the established political order.

ITALY

The Five Star Movement is against the establishment, the eurozone and austerity. In Rome, Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said Sunday night that he would resign after Italians rejected constitutional changes that he had championed. Populist anti-establishment parties like the Five Star Movement, founded by the comedian Beppe Grillo, and the anti-immigrant Northern League led the opposition to the overhaul, which would have concentrated power in the hands of the prime minister.

Beppe Grillo on Mr. Trump’s win: “The mainstream media has often spoken of Pannocchia in the same way they speak of our movement. Do you remember? They said that we were sexist, homophobic, demagogues, populists. They do not realize that millions of people no longer read their newspapers or watch their TVs. Trump capitalized on all this.”

AUSTRIA

The Freedom Party is against the establishment, globalization, the European Union, the eurozone, immigration and Islam. The Freedom Party candidate Norbert Hofer lost his campaign for president in a repeat runoff vote Sunday night. Mr. Hofer had run on a platform of restricting immigration and strengthening the country’s borders.

Norbert Hofer on Mr. Trump’s win: “Wherever the elites distance themselves from voters, those elites will be voted out of office.”

FRANCE

The National Front is against the establishment, globalization, the European Union, the eurozone, immigration and Islam. The National Front maintains a socially conservative, euroskeptic, nationalist voice in French politics. Its leader, Marine Le Pen, is expected to make it to the second round in the presidential election in the spring. She has described Mr. Trump’s victory as “good news for our country.”

Marine Le Pen on Mr. Trump’s win: “Donald Trump has made possible what was presented as completely impossible. So it’s a sign of hope for those who cannot bear wild globalization, who cannot bear the political life led by the elites.”

THE NETHERLANDS

The Freedom Party is against the establishment, the European Union, the eurozone, immigration and Islam. The Netherlands will hold a general election in March, and the Freedom Party is expected to win the most votes, though it may struggle to find the coalition partners necessary to form a government. The party has proposed registering Dutch citizens’ ethnicity and banning Islamic schools.

Geert Wilders, the party’s leader, on Mr. Trump’s win: “America regained its national sovereignty, its identity. It reclaimed its own democracy, that’s why I called it a revolution. And I think that the people of America, as in Europe, feel insulted by all the politicians that ignore the real problems.”

GERMANY

Alternative for Germany is against the establishment, the eurozone, immigration and Islam. Founded as an anti-eurozone party in 2013, Alternative for Germany had a strong showing in recent state elections and now has a presence in 10 of 16 state Parliaments. The party is expected to win seats in the national Parliament in the general election next fall.


Frauke Petry, the party’s leader, on Mr. Trump’s win: “The election of Donald Trump is a triumph of the American people, a victory of ordinary people over the political establishment. It’s a victory over the politically correct globalist elites who show little interest in the well-being of the people.”

BRITAIN

The U.K. Independence Party is againstthe establishment, globalization, the European Union, the eurozone and immigration. The party, known as UKIP, was founded as a euroskeptic group that advocated leaving the European Union. Nigel Farage, the leader of the party at the time of Mr. Trump’s election, said that he “couldn’t be happier” about it.

Nigel Farage, then the party’s leader, on Mr. Trump’s win: “Brexit was the first brick that was knocked out of the establishment wall. A lot more were knocked out last night. This is Brexit times three. It is a bigger country, it is a bigger position, it is a bigger event.”

SPAIN

Podemos is against the establishment, globalization and austerity. Podemos, a left-leaning populist group, is the third-largest party in the lower house of the Spanish Parliament, holding 20 percent of the seats.

Pablo Iglesias, the party’s leader, on Mr. Trump’s win: “Those who call Trump a right-wing populist have a good point. Is there a better way to describe fascism than right-wing populism? Populism is not an ideology, it’s not a political platform, it’s a method of constructing a politics from an ‘outside’ — one that expands in moments of crisis.”

GREECE

Syriza is against the establishment, globalization and austerity. Syriza was formed as a coalition of left-leaning and radical-left political parties, unified in their opposition to austerity measures imposed on Greece by its eurozone lenders. Since first forming a government in 2015, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has fought to keep Greece in the European Union and in the monetary union.

Alexis Tsipras on Mr. Trump’s win: “Contrary to some of my colleagues in Europe, I did not rush to repeat some of the criticism that many of us have made during the election period about Donald Trump.”

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