Election Puts Europe on the Front Line of the Battle With Populism – The New York Times

“Contemporary democracy runs the same risk of ancient Greece democracy: turning into tyranny,” he said.

In Europe, upheavals in identity politics — migration, globalization and an economic inequality — had led to a serious questioning of the liberal market democracy, said Roberto Menotti, a senior adviser at the Aspen Institute Italia.

“Change in general create fears, and that’s probably one simple explanation of this shift” to the right, he said. “But at the same time, it seems to me, the other big trend has been volatility.”

Parties that have been at the heart of the European political life since World War II are falling apart, and the election results eroded them further. The Brexit Party, a veritable political pop-up which sprouted only weeks ago, won about 32 percent of the vote in Britain.

[What Nigel Farage’s big win means for Brexit.]

“Whether this is a sort of terminal illness or just a temporary big headache of course we don’t know,” said Mr. Menotti.

What is clear from recent European history, especially in Europe, is that things change very quickly. Only five years ago, former Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, of Italy’s Democratic Party, became the toast of Europe’s left by winning more than 40 percent in European elections.

The Five Star Movement, the League’s coalition partner, became the leading party in Italy in national elections last year, but have now lost half of their support and trail the Democratic Party.


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