Survey: France Ready To Embrace Populism

French far-right Front National (FN) party's President, Marine Le Pen, acknowledges the audience on stage during the FN's summer congress in Frejus, southern France, on September 18, 2016. / AFP / Franck PENNANT (Photo credit should read FRANCK PENNANT/AFP/Getty Images)

A new survey has revealed a majority of voters support populist policies in France and elsewhere in Europe, but in Germany populism may have an uphill battle.

A new study by British polling organisation YouGov has revealed what percentage of support populism holds in 12 countries across the European Union (EU). While there were many predictable results like right-wing Poland hugely supporting populism and Germany being the most reluctant, France saw a majority in support and many other major European nations approached a majority as well, reports Die Welt.

As 2017 approaches, many major European countries will hold elections on a national level like Germany, the Netherlands, and possibly Austria, or on a presidential level as in France. The parties on the rise in many of these countries are the anti-establishment populists like Marine Le Pen in France or Geert Wilders in the Netherlands.

The YouGov polling shows that Ms. Le Pen may have cause for optimism going into next year’s spring French presidential election. A huge 63 per cent of those surveyed in France said they agreed with the populist ideas of anti-globalism, strong national identity, and border reinforcement to stop mass waves of migration.

The French especially felt that globalisation had left them behind, according to the survey. The feeling of being left behind has extended beyond the traditional political identities of ‘left’ and ‘right’, as many working class voters proved during the Brexit vote as traditional Labour supporters voted against the majority of Labour MPs who were decidedly in the Remain camp.

In the UK, 48 per cent said they would support a populist party platform.

Geert Wilders, who is currently on trial for alleged hate speech charges, may also see positive results in the Dutch federal election as 55 per cent of Dutch citizens surveyed were sympathetic to nationalist ideas he has coined as the “Patriot Spring.”

Bucking the trend of populist support was Germany with a mere 18 per cent of people asked supporting populist ideas such as those espoused by the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party.

However, the survey also revealed that 53 per cent of Germans fear losing social security benefits and 45 per cent fear a loss of national identity and culture – both fears linked to the nation’s membership of the EU. The growing scepticism for the supranational bloc may give rise to populist support over the next year.

Joe Twyman, Research Director of YouGov, said the reason for Germany’s reluctance was likely due to the history of Germany in regards to the Second World War. He claimed that the rise of populism could massively shake up the political landscape of Europe saying, “If a politician or a party succeeds in getting substantial numbers of voters with populist tendencies behind them, then they could become a serious challenge to the established political order.”

Even if the populist parties can’t win their respective elections, Twyman said that their followers will ” influence the development of the countries of Europe,” regardless.


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