Introductory note. This is an opinion piece written by Ricardo Silvestre, of the Democratas.
Of the few (very few) good things resulting from Donald Trump’s election to President of the United States, one has been the effect (along with Brexit and the “regret” in UK voters) of shinning a light on the consequences of making … let’s say, “bad decisions” in politics.
The disaster we have seen on the other side of the Atlantic, coupled with the increasingly influence that Russia is trying to have on the democratic processes in the West, has made voters, the press, and even political apparatuses, begin to assume a more critical, and vigilant, position, regarding the intentions (more or less, declared) that certain parties have in governing their home countries, or Europe.
This effect was seen, with more force in France. After the terrorist attacks in Paris in April, Trump went so far as to say that Le Pen would benefit from this event, in addition of expressing, in a more or less veiled way, that he would prefer the National Front candidate to win . Marine Le Pen had 34% of votes in the second round of Presidential elections, which turned out to be downright less than the 40-45% forecast some analysts gave him at the end of 2016. It also did not help Marine that the French people saw how “close” she was to Putin, both ideologically and financially.
Antes das eleições em França, já se tinham vistos alguns sinais que a extrema-direita podia estar ligeiro declínio no Velho Continente, quando nas eleições de março nos Países Baixos, o PVV (Partij voor de Vrijheid) de Geert Wilders, teve 13% dos votos. A meio de dezembro, as intenções de voto para o PVV estavam nos 22%, com Wilders a gabar a vitória de Trump e a juntar o populismo do PVV à mensagem da Campanha Trump nos U.S.
Before the elections in France, there had already been some signs that the far right could be slightly declining on the Old Continent, when the PVV (Partij voor de Vrijheid) of Geert Wilders had 13% of votes. By mid-December, PVV’s voting intentions were at 22%, with Wilders boasting about Trump’s victory and closing the PVV populism to the message of the Trump Campaign in the U.S.
And we can talk about what we saw in the UK, where another party wanted to take advantgage of the “Trump effect” (particularly with the ridiculous Nigel Farage acting as a “trained poodle” to the American President ),
the UKIP (UK Independence Party), which had 13% of the vote in 2015, and was one of the engines for the Brexit campaign, had … 2% (!) of the votes, and lost the only MP it had in the House of Commons.
The next big point of interest is Germany, with elections to the Bundestag in September. Angela Merkel’s CDU / CSU is on pole position at the level of voting intentions, with the Democratic Party of Martin Schulz likely to dispute the balance of political forces in Germany. What is good is that both candidates are pro-European and against populism (with Schulz’s exemplary behavior defending the Chancellor from Trump’s attacks when the latter made his first visit to Europe as US President).
However, the most important has been the fall of Frauke Petry’s Alternative für Deutschland (AFD), which fell from 13% to 8%. Here too, the AFD was expressed to express sympathies, both by Trump and Putin. Petry who came to be called as “the Trump of Germany“, because of the symmetry in positions and populism, risks to be a residual political force.
Of course there is no way to know how much some things relate to others, and whether Brexit and Trumpism had a direct effect on these trends in recent months.
It is true that “damage is already done” in some cases, but we hope that the electorates is learning from the mistakes that have been observed elsewhere (Turkey, Brazil, Venezuela, Poland, Russia, USA, Brexit, among others) and that political rationality in Europe remains a reality, instead of the “new solutions” that only bring confusion and extremism.
(This Op-Ed is from the responsability of Ricardo Silvestre)