She hates the EU, cheered Brexit, supports Trump — and believes Finland needs her brand of populism.
HELSINKI — Of the eight contenders to be Finland’s next president, none stand out quite like Laura Huhtasaari.
The candidate of the far-right Finns Party is an outlier in both style and substance. She won’t win Sunday’s presidential election but she’s using her time in the spotlight to push her party’s anti-immigrant, anti-establishment message.
She hates the European Union, cheered Brexit and supports Donald Trump — and believes Finland is more than ready for her brand of populism.
“…The mayor claims they’re harmless but these people are neo-Nazis and I’m amazed that the authorities have not taken action against them for inciting racial hatred,” said Mr Canals, whose online blog, Le Panache Salvetois, has publicised their presence.
But not all villagers are opposed to them. Another resident, who requested anonymity, said: “You don’t know who’s for them and who’s against them. Marine Le Pen [the Front National leader] won 45 per cent of the vote here in the second round of the presidential election, and this is ruining friendships and poisoning the atmosphere in the village.”
In a scathing condemnation of the attitudes of the “Davos elite”, the political editor for Germany’s Die Zeit newspaper has penned an article for the New York Times blasting the “two built-in contradictions” of social democracy.
Jochen Bittner, who writes once a month for the NYT, begins by dissecting the electoral irrelevance of Germany’s Social Democrat party, led by former European Parliament president Martin Schulz. He diagnoses social democracy’s decline by outlining two major “contradictions”.
It has been a good year for Europe’s far-right, nationalist parties, who are especially strong in Central Europe.
Arguably the most successful this year was Austria’s Freedom Party (FPÖ).
Unlike many other nationalists ostracised by liberal, centrist parties, the FPÖ translated electoral gains into real power. It entered a coalition government with the conservative People’s Party (ÖVP).
In neighbouring Germany, the big shock of the September election was the success of nationalist Alternative for Germany (AfD), which entered parliament for the first time, winning 94 seats.
In the Netherlands, Geert Wilders’s Freedom Party (PVV) came second. In France, Marine Le Pen of the National Front (FN) reached the run-off for the presidency, and was defeated by the liberal Emmanuel Macron.
Austria’s far-Right Freedom Party has been sworn in to power amid a heavy police presence as protesters waved ‘No Nazi pigs’ signs in Vienna this morning.
The party’s coalition with the conservative People’s Party (OeVP) was agreed on Friday along with pledges to stop illegal immigration and resist EU centralisation.
It will be led by Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, who took over the OeVP in May and moved it to the right, securing his party first place in October elections. At 31, Kurz will be the world’s youngest leader.
More than 2,000 people took part in demonstrations this morning, brandishing placards such as ‘refugees welcome’ and ‘Nazis out’ and ‘No Nazi pigs’.
Marine Le Pen, Tomio Okamura and Geert Wilders during a conference of the rightwing Europe of Nations and Freedom
The European Union is a “disaster” and a “danger” for Europe that has no place in its future, leaders of far-right European parties said at a gathering in Prague. They also vowed to develop cooperation outside the EU structures.
“Because we love Europe, we accuse the EU of killing Europe,” the leader of the French National Front, Marine Le Pen, told reporters at congress of European right-wing parties in the Czech capital, Prague. She also advocated the establishment of a new sort of union, which she defined as a “Europe of sovereign nations.”
“We are not xenophobes, we are opponents of the European Union,” she said. “I think this is something we have in common, because the European Union is a disastrous organization which is leading our continent to destruction through dilution by drowning it in migrants, by the negation of our respective countries, by the draining of our diversity.”
A decentralized federal government and a consensual culture have kept the lid on social tensions—so far.
Much has been written and said about the antiestablishment, antiglobalization populist surge sweeping the West over the last several years. The most prominent manifestation of this phenomenon, of course, came in November 2016, when Donald Trump won the presidency, the most stunning electoral feat in American history; earlier in 2016, Trump’s victory was foreshadowed by Britain’s “Brexit” vote to leave the European Union, an outcome pushed for years by the country’s nationalist U.K. Independence Party (UKIP). But the United States and Britain are far from alone. Seemingly every major Western nation now has a populist movement and an anointed leader: Marine Le Pen and the Front National in France; Geert Wilders and the Party for Freedom (PVV) in the Netherlands, which has become the main opposition party in parliament; Austria’s Freedom Party (FPÖ), founded by nostalgic ex-Nazi officers, which missed electing the country’s president by a whisker; and Italy’s Five Star Movement, led, literally, by a clown, Beppe Grillo, suitably called the clown prince. Even in Denmark, the model of a tolerant liberal democracy, the anti-immigrant Danish People’s Party is now the second party in parliament. Farther east, Hungary and Poland are today governed by openly nationalist governments.
When I first heard the word “populist” bandied about in the early days of election 2016, my immediate reaction was “Ugh!”– back we go to Father Coughlin and a bunch of guys with pitchforks. Not promising.
Then, when I began to support Donald Trump, first grudgingly and then more enthusiastically, I discovered that I might therefore be a “populist.” Heaven help me.
The Czech Republic’s parliamentary election represented yet another rebellion against Europe’s political elites. The winning party, ANO, is considered centrist and won nearly 30% of the vote. Its leader, Andrej Babis, is a billionaire and has been described as a Czech Donald Trump.
More… The autumn of Europe’s discontent: With an anti-immigration Eurosceptic billionaire set to be the new Czech PM, MARK ALMOND explains why voters across the EU are in revolt
Populist tycoon Andrej Babis and his Eurosceptic political party have won the Czech Republic’s parliamentary election — by a landslide — making the “politically incorrect” billionaire businessman the main contender to become prime minister after coalition negotiations.
With all of the votes counted, Babis’s anti-establishment party ANO (which stands for “Action of Dissatisfied Citizens” and is also the Czech word for “yes”) won nearly 30% — almost three times its closest rival — in elections held on October 20. The Eurosceptic Civic Democratic Party (ODS), the anti-establishment Czech Pirates Party and the anti-EU Freedom and Direct Democracy party (SPD) came second, third and fourth, with around 11% each.
The Communists came in fifth with 7.8%. The Social Democrats, the center-left establishment party that finished first in the previous election, came in sixth with just 7.2%. The Christian Democrats, the center-right establishment party, won 5.8%, just enough to qualify for seats in parliament. In all, nine parties competed in the election.
The party of the populist Czech billionaire described by some as the ‘Czech Trump’ is clearly ahead in the late stages of vote counting, suggesting he could be the central European nation’s next Prime Minister.
Austria looks likely to move to the right in Sunday’s elections. Conservative Sebastian Kurz is predicted to become prime minister, while the nationalist Freedom Party is expected to come second and could become part of the next coalition government.
“All polls show that Kurz will be the winner,” Reinhold Gärtner, professor of political science at Austria’s Innsbruck University, told FRANCE 24. Polls have consistently put Kurz’s conservative People’s Party (OVP) at first place with over 30 percent of the vote.