Pushing back populism, Europe takes the lead
by Ingemar Pongratz
A lot of things have occurred during the summer and it is still only July!
The first signs of change came in my opinion from Austria, where the far-right candidate for the presidency was defeated rather clearly by an independent candidate. The new Austrian President is Alexander van der Bellen, Independent.
Importantly, the vote was rather clear, close to 54% of the population vote for him and clearly defeated the FPÖ candidate. Of course, you can argue that 46% of the votes went to a xenophobic political movement, but at least he did not receive the popular vote.
The next blow against populism, xenophobia and far right ideas came in the Netherlands, where the far-right candidate received less than 15% of the popular vote. This means that more than 85% of the Dutch population voted for parties where fear for immigrants because of their religion is not the key factor. Still I argue that 15% of the public vote is still too high for a political movement that preaches fear and division but again the numbers are going down.
The latest (final?) blow against populism came in France where the public voted against the far right party and elected President Macron. As politician he is completely untested but managed not only to win the presidency, but also to rally the French to elect a completely new type of government ensuring a massive support in the French Parliament as well.
Together with other European Leaders, in particular the German Chancellor A Merkel, these two leaders have created a front that speaks against ignorance and populism, the way we see it today in the USA under Mr Trump or in the UK.
Hopefully, the momentum against will continue and grow further in coming elections is Germany and other European states. Certainly, at this stage, the numbers are looking rather promising…
Hopefully we see a new trend, where we can hope for a better future for our children…