Carol Matlack writes in Bloomberg that Europe’s populist and nationalist parties are set to dominate upcoming elections due to “discontent over immigration, terrorism, and feeble economic performance.”
As Europeans assess the fallout from the U.K.’s Brexit referendum, they face a series of elections that could equally shake the political establishment. In the coming 12 months, four of Europe’s five largest economies have votes that will almost certainly mean serious gains for right-wing populists and nationalists. Once seen as fringe groups, France’s National Front, Italy’s Five Star Movement, and the Freedom Party in the Netherlands have attracted legions of followers by tapping discontent over immigration, terrorism, and feeble economic performance. “The Netherlands should again become a country of and for the Dutch people,” says Evert Davelaar, a Freedom Party backer who says immigrants don’t share “Western and Christian values.”
Even Europe’s most powerful politician, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, is under assault. The anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany (AfD) party has drained support from Mrs Merkel’s Christian Democrats in recent state and local elections, capitalizing on discontent over Germany’s refugee crisis. In Austria the far-right Freedom Party has a shot at winning the presidency in balloting set for Dec. 4, after an election in May that the Freedom Party narrowly lost was annulled because of irregularities in vote counting. The populists are deeply skeptical of European integration, and those in France and the Netherlands want to follow Britain’s lead and quit the European Union. “Political risk in Europe is now far more significant than in the United States,” says Ajay Rajadhyaksha, head of macro research at Barclays.
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