Wednesday 13 December 2017

Far-right parties are on the march, confident political winds are blowing their way

Dutch populist Geert Wilders, left, and French Front National leader Marine Le Pen at a meeting of European Nationalists in Koblenz, Germany, last weekend. Photo: AP
Dutch populist Geert Wilders, left, and French Front National leader Marine Le Pen at a meeting of European Nationalists in Koblenz, Germany, last weekend. Photo: AP

Mary Fitzgerald

The day after Donald Trump's inauguration in Washington DC, a gathering of far-right and anti-establishment Europeans who believe themselves to be his fellow travellers took place in the German city of Koblenz.

The event, which saw the leaders of populist parties from countries including Germany, France, Italy and the Netherlands come together to present themselves as some kind of vanguard, was markedly triumphalist in tone. This may have been a little premature for some of those present, including Marine Le Pen, the leader of France's far-right Front National, and Geert Wilders, leader of the Dutch Freedom Party, who will be running for presidential and general elections in their respective countries later this year. But it shows how confident they are of riding what they see as a wave of anti-establishment sentiment washing around Europe after the Brexit referendum last year and beyond, in the form of Trump's win last November.

Le Pen laced her usual anti-immigration and anti-EU rhetoric with eulogies to Americans who had voted for Trump and UK voters who had voted to leave the EU, calling on voters across Europe to follow their example. Trump's election, coming after Brexit, was a "second coup", she crowed.

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