Saturday 21 April 2018

Why victory for Le Pen in France would help to fuel rise of far-right in Europe

'Taken overall, the 2017 elections have the potential to change the political complexion of Europe.'
'Taken overall, the 2017 elections have the potential to change the political complexion of Europe.'

Andrew Hammond

Far-right leaders across Europe, including French presidential hopeful Marine Le Pen, held a political summit last weekend following Donald Trump's inauguration as US president. The meeting in Germany underlines how much right-wing populism seems on the march in key countries across the Western world.

It is Europe which will provide a lodestar in 2017 for whether this conservative breed of anti-establishment politics will continue to find fertile ground, and potentially change the political complexion of the continent. In elections beginning with the Netherlands in March, where polls indicate the far-right Freedom Party could emerge as the largest single group in the legislature, left and centrist parties are under pressure from insurgency parties championing eurosceptical, anti-immigrant platforms.

France, which alongside Germany has traditionally been the 'twin-engine' of EU integration, will perhaps be the key election to watch. The reason is that the election of National Front candidate Ms Le Pen, who has a realistic, outside shot at victory, and who visited Trump Tower in New York earlier this month, would have big international implications, not least given her campaign promises to take France out of Nato, the eurozone and the wider EU.

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