European Nationalism in the Age of Trump

The world now belongs to Donald Trump.  Such an unusual situation cannot help but alter the course of world politics.  Here is how we see the political course of Western Europe changing in the wake of Trump’s victory:

Italy – The domino most likely to fall in the near future.  Before America’s November election the unpopular Leftist government of Prime Minister Renzi had staked its future on winning a referendum on economic reforms early in December.  With populist victories in Britain and the United States, Renzi’s referendum, which was already lagging behind in polls, now looks certain to be punished by voters in an anti-establishment backlash.  A referendum loss will lead to the collapse of his leftist government and early elections that are expected to be won by a coalition of anti-euro nationalist and center right parties.

In its already weakened position the euro will enter a new crisis when an incoming Italian government prepares for Italy’s exit from the currency union.

Britain –  Concern in Britain had been growing over whether PM May would encounter strong resistance to her triggering article 50 next Spring to begin formal exit negotiations with the European Union.  Britain’s exit now becomes more certain after Trump’s win demonstrated ignoring public opinion is more politically untenable than ever.

Germany – Merkel’s plan for Germany’s 2017 general election was to portray AfD’s leader Petry as Hitler.  Courtesy of America, Merkel has been handed a label worse than Hitler – Merkel will try to frame Petry as Trump, albeit a pixie-Trump in a skirt hiding underneath a Beatle’s moptop.

Will Petry emerge from the election standing on high heels atop the Fatherland with a Bundestag majority, whip in hand, herself wrapped tightly in a Hugo Boss outfit of leather?

Though it would make for excellent blog material, sadly she will not be Kanzlerin.

Petry is too Prussian to win what is necessary in West Germany to form a national majority.  However, with Petry’s stance against increasingly unpopular refugees she will be well-poised to deny Merkel a majority or let her easily form a governing coalition.

France – Le Pen, at first glance, should be positioned to triumph in the aftermath of Britain’s referendum and Trump.

But on further examination the momentum started by Farage and Trump may not convert to her benefit in French politics.  The French are natural trendsetters, not trend followers, and they are loathe especially to admit they are merely catching up with Anglo-Saxon trends, which no amount of spin on their part could deny if they elected Le Pen almost six months after America elected Trump and a year after UKIP won over Britain.

The French are too self-assured and contained within themselves for us to discount the possibility they will give in to the ancient temptation to diverge from the Anglo-Saxon world simply because they want to prove their independence.

Expect France to surprise for the sake of surprising, and no other reason.

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9 thoughts on “European Nationalism in the Age of Trump”

  1. You still sticking by your predictions concerning Deutsche Bank? I haven’t heard so much about that recently.

    Although there is still a very effective rearguard action being fought against leaving the EU by powerful figures within the establishment, I do think you are right that in general the victories of Brexit and Trump push politics to the Right in Britain by creating the argument that the Left simply cannot afford to stand in the way of the popular will, lest they create something worse.

    The scale of the National Front challenge is many times greater than Trump or Brexit, is it not? In both recent elections the supporters of these movements could claim to be making a non-racist protest against the establishement. But given that the FN are explictly ethno-nationalist it is harder to simply pass of a vote for Le Pen as a vote against something rather than a vote for something. I suspect nonwhite voters in France are also a good deal more politicised than, say, Latinos in America.

    “Will Petry emerge from the election standing on high heels atop the Fatherland with a Bundestag majority, whip in hand, herself wrapped tightly in a Hugo Boss outfit of leather”

    Sounds like you have a bit of a thing for her. She is certainly one of those women that carries off the elfin short-haired look. I suppose you could call her a Petry-dish.

    She’s no Marion Le Pen though.

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  2. You still sticking by your predictions concerning Deutsche Bank? I haven’t heard so much about that recently.

    Certainly.

    A lack of news does not mean Deutsche Bank bank is stable. Lehman, too, was not in the headlines everyday in the months before its collapse. DB and the European banking system generally are very sensitive to any new economic disruptions; and I expect a new round of stress for the euro to come from Southern European markets in the probable event Renzi’s government falls.

    The scale of the National Front challenge is many times greater than Trump or Brexit, is it not? In both recent elections the supporters of these movements could claim to be making a non-racist protest against the establishement. But given that the FN are explictly ethno-nationalist it is harder to simply pass of a vote for Le Pen as a vote against something rather than a vote for something.

    That is another factor which makes France’s vote harder to project based on what has happened in Britain and America. On the other hand, white French voters are more open to overt ethnic appeals than Anglo-Saxons are presently as is indicated by the fact polls for the second round have Marine Le Pen winning at least 40%. Can she swing another 10 points or does she run into a hard ceiling at 40%-45%? It’s hard to say because France’s mindset (as you Britons already well know) is so different from ours. Hence I expect surprises in that race.

    I suppose you could call her a Petry-dish.

    You said it, not me. 😉

    She’s no Marion Le Pen though.

    At the risk of introducing a controversial statement to this blog, Marion is only a 6 or 7, depending on one’s preference. Her politics are sound but she’s average or below average for a young French woman.

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  3. I am amazed that this Italian referendum is taking place. The question itself is so ridiculously convoluted and complex that only a political junky would have any real opinion; add to this the fact that people often opt for the status quo and that people often use referendums as a protest vote (I know some Brexit voters who voted Leave for the most trivial reasons–‘to give Cameron a kicking’ and the like). On top of this there is the general mood in Europe and the West and the fact that Renzi, as an unelected Eurocrat, is like the personification of the term ‘out-of touch-elite’.

    Given the dire situation of the banks in Germany and Italy and the general economic situation in Europe and the sensitivity to stress that you mention, it is, as I say, amazing that this is taking place at all, and perhaps a sign of just how dire things are he feels he has to risk it. If I was Renzi I think I would personally have found a way of cancelling the whole thing.

    Of course on top of all this there is the rerun of the Austrian presidential election which is actually due to take place on the very same day as the Italian vote.

    ‘At the risk of introducing a controversial statement to this blog, Marion is only a 6 or 7’

    She may not be perfect looks-wise. But she’s a good Catholic girl with far-right opinions and that counts for a lot in my book.

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  4. I am amazed that this Italian referendum is taking place.

    By Italian standards Renzi’s administration has been long-lived. Their parliaments are famous for collapsing at the drop of a hat.

    He’s survived this long only because the bureaucratic junta in Brussels propped him up in hopes of delaying a general election that would lead to a market panic in the likely event an anti-euro coalition replaced him.

    The referendum had been pushed back for some time, I think maybe for over a year. Presumably Brussels wanted to stall off new EMU turmoil until after the Britain’s referendum and America’s presidential race to help the left in both countries.

    They’ve lost both fights and now there’s no point saving Renzi from the inevitable. And, yes, he will get spanked extra hard by Italian voters after Trump and Brexit.

    Of course on top of all this there is the rerun of the Austrian presidential election which is actually due to take place on the very same day as the Italian vote.

    Austria could well vote in an FPO president, however ceremonial the role may be, for the same reasons Italy will shoot down their market referendum.

    She may not be perfect looks-wise. But she’s a good Catholic girl with far-right opinions and that counts for a lot in my book.

    She’s still facing formidable competition over there, even if your search criteria is restricted to conservative Catholic women. In small towns and the countryside there are Frenchwomen who check both religious and political tests and who are 8s or better. However, I’m not aware of any French bombshells who are as prominent rightists as Marion.

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  5. Le Pen doesn’t have the numbers to win this round. Maybe next time.

    If you go by how strong the local Antifa movement is, then Germany is the hardest nut to crack. Made even worse by the fact that their mainstream right is represented by Merkel, so Germans basically have to make a choice between two or three mainstream traitors.

    The battle for German nationalists should focus on overthrowing Merkel within the CDU, and pushing the party further to the right. If Germany does go nationalist, then I think nationalism will have gained the upper hand throughout the west.

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  6. Le Pen doesn’t have the numbers to win this round. Maybe next time.

    It is for the French to decide whether she has the numbers or not.

    The problem for the outsider is figuring out what the famously aloof French will decide – that not even I would attempt to predict, and I wrote that Trump would win Florida on November 7th.

    https://pragmaticallydistributed.wordpress.com/2016/11/07/hillarys-turnout-problem/

    The battle for German nationalists should focus on overthrowing Merkel within the CDU, and pushing the party further to the right. If Germany does go nationalist, then I think nationalism will have gained the upper hand throughout the west.

    True. But as a spoiler Petry is perfectly positioned. Anywhere between 12% to 20% will punish the CDU enough to have them think of dropping Merkel for someone sound on immigration.

    Of course Petry is very unlikely to win a Bundestag majority.

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  7. Thank you for writing this. I hadn’t read your blog for a while so only recently saw this. Much as I hope Trump’s victory will spur on nationalist parties in Europe, my fear is that there will be no immediate benefit. European politicians currently in power would never allow their countries to hold a referendum, so we do need a minority nationalist party to secure a parliamentary majority in a General Election. In France, the other two main parties will gang up against FN, ensuring a win for Fillon in the final run-off. The AfD is too weak to overthrow Merkel, which must say something about the German psyche given the scale of the problems arising from mass immigration. Recent surveys across Europe suggest that popular support for the EU has hardened following the Brexit vote in the UK. I suspect this arises from a widespread fear of the unknown should the EU start to fall apart. Indeed, despite a dreadful state of affairs in Greece that continues to deteriorate, the people still cling to the supposed comfort and security offered by membership of the Eurozone! So I suspect it might take another financial crash to persuade people that enough is enough. Your perspectives on Deutsche Bank and the Italian banking crisis are thus important

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  8. Thank you for writing this.

    We are here to serve civilization, even Britain’s portion of civilization.

    Much as I hope Trump’s victory will spur on nationalist parties in Europe, my fear is that there will be no immediate benefit. European politicians currently in power would never allow their countries to hold a referendum, so we do need a minority nationalist party to secure a parliamentary majority in a General Election.

    True. Central European members would themselves be loathe to exit with the certainty that they would be forfeiting EU subsidies, not to mention that compared to Britain they would be in a much weaker economic position to renegotiate access to Western Europe’s markets.

    The French are normally quite happy to buck Anglo-Saxon trends just for the sake of being different, no matter if their particular course means suicide. For this reason I wouldn’t be surprised if Le Pen lost. On the other hand, with France’s civil life rapidly deteriorating into that of 1980s Lebanon, choosing an “extremist” party is not out of the question either. The strategy of AfD is not to win a majority but act as a spoiler that weakens Merkel’s election chances, perhaps pressure her to resign as CDU/CSU leader after a weak showing. As a threat to siphon regular party members from mainstream parties, Petry is doing what she needs to do. But no more.

    The obstacles in the way of any other state (except Italy) forming a nationalist government are, as you point out, significant. But the UK is still a very large brick to remove from the wall for the Brussels establishment to feel confident in their position’s stability. At a minimum your withdrawal leaves the remainder of the Supranationalist structure vulnerable to a new shock.

    Italy’s vote will have much to do with the EU’s future.

    Recent surveys across Europe suggest that popular support for the EU has hardened following the Brexit vote in the UK. I suspect this arises from a widespread fear of the unknown should the EU start to fall apart.

    Yes. And fear of governing themselves after the consequences of WWI and WWII and, what they perceive as America’s nationalism running amok, is why EU politicians like Romano Prodi have been, until maybe recently, able to openly boast for decades that they were building a post-democratic government with little objection from the people. They have an advantage not enjoyed by American Liberals who have to conceal their motives more than European Liberals.

    Too many Europeans don’t trust themselves to govern their own nations without again slaughtering each other by the millions. So much of the attraction the EU’s anti-nationalism (and Socialism generally) has held over the electorate has been as a vehicle to liberate the citizens from the responsibilities of citizenship. Better to outsource their responsibility to unelected “experts”.

    Hence why the EU’s popularity jumped after its end became visible.

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