Weathering the Storm: A Discussion on Europe’s Response to Rising Populism
Populism is on the verge of becoming a durable force in European politics. Hard-right parties lead or support governments in countries such as Poland, Belgium, and Denmark; the far-left has governed in Greece for nearly two years. But even where populist parties are still in opposition they are polling strongly and increasingly shaping the political discourse, the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) in Britain and the Front National in France being two prominent cases in point. In Germany, discontent with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s refugee policy has brought record results for the right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) in recent regional elections. How can European policymakers respond to public concerns and reinforce liberal democracy?
To discuss these matters, the Transatlantic Academy and the German Marshall Fund of the United States’ Europe Program organized a lunch discussion with Timo Lochocki, Senior Transatlantic Fellow in the Europe Program. Common wisdom holds that persistent economic difficulties and mass migration are two of the drivers behind the populist rise. However, Lochocki argued that there is no direct correlation between “real” challenges and populists’ advances — votes for populists are rather based on political debates and perceptions of policy — and that the center will hold in Germany and Europe.
Christopher Caldwell served as a discussant. He is a senior editor at The Weekly Standard and is the author of Reflections on the Revolution In Europe: Immigration, Islam and the West (2009). Ted Reinert, Program Officer at the Transatlantic Academy, moderated the discussion.
Ted Reinert's blog summarizing and reflecting on the event, "Weathering the Storm: Talking European Populism on the Eve of the U.S. Election," can be read here.