The rejection of Europe's right-wing populists?
Le Pen has done less well than expected and many already see Macron as France's next president: Europe's press breathed a sigh of relief after the first round of voting in France. For many the right-wing populists have once again been put in their place after the defeats of Hofer in Austria and Wilders in the Netherlands. But are Europe's populist movements really on the wane now?
Democracy's antibodies striking back
Democracy has more powers of resistance than we credit it with, diplomat Sergio Romano writes in Corriere della Sera after the first round of voting in France:
“After Trump's victory in the US and the heightened visibility of the anti-system parties in the biggest Western democracies, we've let ourselves see this phenomenon as the symptom of a general decline of Western democracies and ignored other, far more reassuring signals. ... In Spain the conservative Mariano Rajoy beat Podemos, while the Austrians preferred the Green presidential candidate to his rival from the nationalist party. In the Netherlands Mark Rutte emerged victorious against the populist Geert Wilders. And although the AfD has become more radical in Germany, its leader Frauke Petry, who has adopted a more conciliatory stance, has been sidelined. ... The populist wave hasn't been stopped, but the first round in France and the most recent elections in other European countries have shown that the body of democracy has no shortage of robust antibodies.”
Another setback for the nationalists
Not only in the French presidential elections have the right-wing populists failed to live up to expectations, The Irish Times notes with satisfaction:
“While Le Pen's strong showing must serve as a warning against complacency, Sunday's result should nonetheless dispel some of the fatalism that has consumed the progressive mainstream in Europe. English nationalism is on the rise and right-wing populists are in power in Poland and Hungary. But polls suggest Angela Merkel is still on course for re-election in September, while recent elections in Austria and the Netherlands have put a brake on the advance of the nationalist right in both countries. Ireland and the rest of Europe must hope that a convincing victory for Macron can do the same in France.”
EU needs a policy for enhanced cooperation
It will take more than a vote against the Front National candidate for the EU to survive, La Croix admonishes, speculating on what would happen if Le Pen won:
“We'd see the disintegration of the logic of peace which has prevailed for decades and which is in essence guaranteed by Europe's unification. However to prevent that it won't be enough to vote against Marine Le Pen. Enhancing the EU's human dimension is a key task for all those who support it and help make it tick. The European community must no longer repose on a large single market and economic norms. It is time to highlight everything that constitutes the communal life of the peoples of Europe, of which the Erasmus exchanges are still too isolated an example. We need a European policy of social cohesion. Without it Europe will remain a fragile house of cards.”
21st century lacks ideas
Die Presse sees the beginning of a new economic and political era and attributes the recent success of the populists to obsolete concepts for the economy and society:
“Marx (in the late 19th century), Hayek (early 20th century) and Keynes (in the mid-20th century) may have correctly described many of the natural laws of economics (monopolisation in unbridled capitalism, market forces, economic cycles). But they no longer serve to explain a world interconnected by the Internet in which machines are taking over the conventional work. And they certainly can't manage it. People sense this and are turning their backs on the proponents of the declining 20th century ideologies. The fact that the populists, who benefit from this, likewise only have conventional - and therefore fairly useless - solutions to offer is unfortunately being overlooked in the current mood of 'anything is better than the status quo'. What we patently lack is a viable political economy for the 21st century.”