Can the populist wave be stopped?
The Visegrád states, Austria and Italy: a growing number of European states have governments that are pushing for the sovereignty of nation states and isolationism in migration policy. Commentators observe this trend with concern, seek the causes and propose ways to reverse it.
Left must play a leading role
The left has a vital role to play in countering populism and shaping the new Europe, writes the daily Avgi:
“Although the number of refugees arriving is lower now than in previous years, the topic divides Europe and has resulted in considerable changes on the political map. ... The topic of refugees is acting like a catalyst in the formation of new demarcation lines in Europe: the populists will continue to push for isolationism and a multi-speed Europe and look increasingly to Trump's political model. To counter them the progressive forces which want a human, democratic, and social Europe must take a stand. And here the left must play a leading role.”
Idle elites are to blame
The political and intellectual elites are to blame for the growing appeal of populist ideas, entrepreneur and politician Pierre Kunz writes in Le Temps:
“Contrary to what some people believe, 'the era of the strong men' is far more than a random turn of events. It is a profound wave which has its origin in the soothing discourses and inaction that have characterised the leaders and ideologists of the Western democracies in the past decades. Changing the course of history, injecting liberal democracy with new dynamism and giving the European project a future will require more than the denunciation of 'rising nationalism' and the populist 'leprosy that is spreading across Europe' à la Emmanuel Macron.”
Portuguese not immune to populism
The Portuguese like to see their country as the last bastion against a tide of populism engulfing Europe, but that it has been spared is only thanks to its geographical position, writes Observador:
“Let's not fool ourselves: we are not friendlier and we are not kinder. We are simply further away from the problem. ... Let's imagine that a float of NGO ships was 'gathering' migrants on the coast of Morocco (instead of the Libyan coast) to bring them to the ports on Portugal's southern coast. ... Or that Spain were to do exactly the same thing to us as France did with Italy: ignore Schengen, close its borders and send any immigrants who managed to enter the country back to Portugal. ... Let's be honest: do you really think we would continue to be the exception to the wave of populism hitting other countries in Europe?”