Will Europe's right benefit from Trump's triumph?

While Europe's right-wing populists are celebrating Donald Trump's election, leading EU politicians have pragmatically offered to cooperate with the new president. Commentators fear that politicians like Le Pen and Wilders will take inspiration from Trump's victory. Others explain why their hopes will be dashed.

Open/close all quotes
Večernji list (HR) /

Right-wing populists are in for a surprise

Europe's right-wing politicians will soon choke on their enthusiasm, Večernji list is convinced:

“With its liberal economy the Anglo-American establishment created the people who voted for Brexit and Trump. That has nothing whatsoever to do with the neo-fascist politics of Marine Le Pen, who has never risen to power in France. And it has just as little to do with Salvini and his Lega Nord, which shared power with Berlusconi. Aside from all the braying, they have nothing in common with Trumpism. Trump represents the disappointed generation that sank into poverty after 2008. Le Pen, Salvini and the others represent xenophobic nationalists who've been around forever. Even Orbán has no business on Trump's bandwagon, although he lost no time jumping on it. Trump won't ignore Congress and hold referendums. And by the same token he won't simply have journalists tossed into jail the way Putin and Erdoğan do, no matter how much they get on his nerves.”

Iltalehti (FI) /

Reason may win out in the end

Although more populist campaigns are yet to come voters will no doubt soon tire of simplistic answers, Iltalehti speculates:

“Both the Brexit campaign and Trump's election strategy will set a precedent for the elections that are due to take place in Finland and Europe in the next few years. There is no doubt that some parties will try to win by adopting similar ideas, namely the rejection of elites, fear of foreigners and protectionism. ... The question is only how long voters will swallow such simplistic messages, particularly if once Trump takes office it turns out that there are no simple answers to complex problems.”

De Standaard (BE) /

A problem with representative democracy

Europe's right-wing populists could benefit from Trump's victory, De Standaard points out:

“After the Brexit referendum and above all after Donald Trump's election as US president, there can be no more denying that there is a problem with representative democracy. ... Election systems erect high hurdles to ward off extremist movements. But when there's enough pressure and the right leader emerges, a dam break cannot be ruled out. In the coming election year in Europe Trump will inspire many voters who have neither prospects nor security. In the Netherlands, France and Germany, far-right leaders are ready to ride the wave in his wake. ... Nothing is unthinkable after Trump's unlikely success story.”

Sega (BG) /

Political correctness has had its day

The days of complacent and politically correct phrasemongering in politics are coming to an end, writes Sega commenting on Trump's election victory in the US:

“There is a growing desire in the West to pull the rug out from under the never-changing, self-replicating and self-satisfied political elites. People don't just vote to protest but also to remind themselves that they exist and that their opinion still counts. … The elections in the US and Europe show that voters are sick and tired of the hypocritical political correctness of the elites. Given the increasingly populist tendencies in Europe, no one should really be surprised if Le Pen wins next year's election in France.”

Avgi (GR) /

A lesson for Europe's left

Europe can learn from the defeat of the US Democrats, the left-leaning daily Avgi comments:

“Perhaps it's not too late for the French Socialists and the German and Austrian social democrats who soon face their own elections. They can learn from the mistakes of the Democrats. They should stop claiming there is no alternative to this system that makes the rich richer and the poor poorer and the weak responsible for the mistakes of the elites. They should shift to the left. If they interpret Trump's victory as a clear sign, there is hope. … Otherwise, the delighted reaction of Le Pen and other far right politicians at Trump's victory yesterday may soon turn into delight at their own victories.”

Avvenire (IT) /

EU needs political unity

Trump's election must force Europe to change its way of thinking, Avvenire admonishes:

“Bereft of the American 'protectorate' that was erected after World War II, Europe faces the task of taking charge of its fate once more - less as an agent in the globalisation process and more as a full member of the political community. Europe must become something more like a genuine European confederation of states. … The Brexit and Trump's election show that Europe is overemphasising its role as an agent of globalisation while at the same time a process of de-globalisation is underway. But as a [political] community with a shared destiny the EU is too weak. Until today a true constitutional process in Europe seemed utopian. But Trump's election may have created the right conditions for this to happen. ”