Brexit and ‘Peak Populism’ in Europe
The British Parliament’s apparent success in blocking a no-deal Brexit on October 31 as well as setbacks for sovereigntist parties elsewhere in Europe have prompted some observers to claim that “populism” in Europe has passed its peak. Euroskeptics elected to the European Parliament in June ended up dispersing among three political groups and failed to influence appointments to top jobs in the European Union. This reinforces the view that such political movements may be on the decline.
Yet the reassertion of authority by mainstream conservative, social democratic and liberal parties in several European countries and by moderates in the British Parliament may prove short-lived. Mainstream leaders often cling to power by adopting the policies of more radical parties, especially on immigration. Euroskeptic nationalists gained a narrow plurality of votes in the European Parliament election in France and outright victory in the rather odd European election in the United Kingdom, following the extension of the Brexit deadline to October 31. Though euroskeptic nationalists have been held in check in recent elections across Europe, they improved their score considerably.