Monday 27 February 2017

Europe's anxious middle classes moving right, but for how long?

Katya Adler

Marine Le Pen (AP)
Marine Le Pen (AP)

'Is that him? It's the sound of his motorbike escort, I'm sure of it!" The heaving crowd I found myself in under the scorching Sicilian sun late last September was edgy, expectant and oh-so Italian.

Who was the handsome leather-clad biker on a purring Piaggio amid whoops and yells of adulation? No film star or pop idol, I soon discovered, but Alessandro di Battista, a prominent figure in the populist Five Star Movement - an opposition party, but Italy's most talked-about political group.

Mr Di Battista's slogan is not dissimilar to Donald Trump's rallying cry to "put America first". It's a sentiment I've been exposed to increasingly of late while filming a new documentary 'After Brexit: The Battle for Europe'. From Sicily I travelled to Brussels, Paris and Berlin meeting the nationalist anti-establishment leaders taking Europe by storm. The languages may change, but the message does not.

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