Right-wing populists meet in Milan

Almost a dozen representatives of right-wing populist parties from across Europe met in Milan on the weekend. Thousands came to hear the address by Lega leader Salvini and several counter-demonstrations took place. Salvini wants to create a European Alliance of Peoples and Nations that brings together nationalist parties in the EU Parliament. Can such an alliance work?

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La Repubblica (IT) /

Everyone for themselves

There is more that separates the nationalists than things they have in common, writes historian and sociologist Marc Lazar in La Repubblica:

“Salvini is calling for the distribution of migrants? Orbán wants nothing to do with it. The Lega leader wants to be rid of the three-percent deficit limit and not have to worry about debts? His German, Hungarian, Austrian and Polish friends rule that out altogether. ... And the populists are even pursuing different strategies regarding their choice of group in the EU Parliament. ... Of course they have common enemies: for example Merkel, Macron and the European Commission, all of which play the useful role of scapegoat. But basically the right-wing populists try to combine social policies with an exaggerated sense of national pride. And since everyone puts their own national sovereignty first, that quickly leads to antagonism.”

De Volkskrant (NL) /

Clear vision needed in fight against nationalists

It's wrong to dismiss the new alliance of right-wing populists as racist or fascist, warns journalist and political commentator Kemal Rijken in De Volkskrant:

“What is needed is a clear and pragmatic vision for migration and the European project. Most Europeans who vote for nationalists aren't racists or fascists, but are worried about the flood of migrants, their jobs and their pensions. They reap little or no benefit from the European single market. The social democrats, liberals and Christian democrats must find an answer to that. Starting, for example, with a clear European migration policy that lets in those who deserve asylum but puts an end to people smuggling.”

El Mundo (ES) /

A dangerous alliance

The alliance could have disastrous consequences, in particular for France, El Mundo warns:

“Salvini has established himself as the leader of the movements and parties that want to destroy the EU and return to an exclusivist nationalism devoid of solidarity, in which democracy and tolerance are no longer political values. According to the polls the Italian prime minister's party will not only be the party with the most votes in Italy next Sunday, but its alliance with the far-right Front National in the European elections could lead to the French electorate turning its back on the French prime minister. Emmanuel Macron, whose image has been eroded as a result of the yellow-vest crisis and whom more than a third of French citizens rejects, would then fall behind Marine Le Pen. This would mark the failure of the only EU leader who has made European discourse his top political priority.”