“What happened in the Capitol after the defeat of Donald Trump is a bad sign for populists. He suggests two things: if you elect them, they won’t necessarily leave the government easily, and if you elect them, see what they can do to incite public anger, “Dominique Moïsi, an analyst at the Montaigne Institute in Paris, told The Washington Post.
Riots, Violence, and Deaths Trump’s supporters stormed the Capitol warned countries such as France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and Poland of underestimated populist anger and conspiracy theories against democratic governments.
The response of European populists to the unrest in the Capitol was eloquent: one by one, they distanced themselves from the riots or fell silent.
Marine Le Pen, leader of France’s far-right National Assembly, is set to challenge Emmanuel Macron in the 2022 presidential election. She was an active supporter of Trump, and his victory and Brexit were seen as an introduction to populist success in France. Le Pen reiterated Trump’s allegations that the US presidential election was not fair.
However, Le Pen said he was “very shocked” after the Capitol attack and condemned “any action to disrupt the democratic process”.
Matteo Salvini, leader of the Italian populist party League, said “violence is never the answer”. In the Netherlands, far-right leader Geert Wilders also criticized the Capitol cloak.
“The results of a democratic election must always be respected, whether you win or lose,” Wilders wrote on Twitter.
Anxiety of traditional politicians
While populist leaders have been shocked by the events in Washington, anxiety persists among traditional politicians as well. They are concerned about anti-elite, anti-government political movements in Europe, especially during the coronavirus pandemic, writes The Washington Post.
Janis Emmanouilidis, director of studies at European policy centers in Brussels, says there is no single definition of European populism. Different movements in different countries have different characteristics, and external events are the only factor that determines their changing popularity.
“The key issue now is COVID-19, but it is unclear what the policy will look like after the pandemic. But the fear of the worst helps to avoid the worst, “he told The Washington Post.
According to him, the extreme polarization of society and violence in Washington “creates deterrence in other societies”.
“We see where this leads, we want to avoid it, but we understand that we can find ourselves there too, that the situation may escalate,” Emmanouilidis added.
If the economies weaken and the populists take power, “God help when Europe finds itself in another crisis,” he says. This concern, given the 2022 election, may partly explain why German Chancellor Angela Merkel was so concerned about France and Macron’s demands.
The Polish government strongly supported Trump, and the national broadcaster did not acknowledge his defeat until he did so himself, said former Polish Foreign and Defense Minister Radoslaw Sikorski.
“After a brief defeat, the disappointment of the populist right in Central Europe was heard. The world will become a more lonely place for them, “he told the newspaper.
President Andrzej Duda, who met with Trump in Washington back in July, called the Capitol assault a U.S. domestic affair. “Poland believes in the power of American democracy,” he said.
READ ALSO: Will the ideological differences between Mr Biden and the Polish rulers lead to a crisis in relations between the two countries?
“The brief has given credibility to the destructive attitude and approach of European populist leaders. Therefore, the fact that Trump is no longer a big problem for them, ”says Enrico Letta, a former Italian prime minister who now teaches at the University of Sciences Po in France.
According to him, the riots completely changed the situation.
Le Pen, Italy’s populist leaders, now “feel obliged to distance themselves from some forms of extremism.” “They have lost the opportunity to maintain ambiguity on the margins of their ties to extremists,” Letta told the newspaper.
According to him, Trump’s defeat and violent response dealt a severe blow to European populism. Coronavirus was already a “revenge for excellence and a scientific method” for darkness and anti-elitist populism. E. Letta added that such a blow was also caused by the difficulties that accompanied Brexit.
“We are even starting to think that Brexit is something positive for Europe, something that allows us to start over. “No one has followed Britain’s example, and now we see Trump’s collapse,” he assured.
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