The Populists Haven’t Won Yet
BERLIN — Western democracies took a pounding in 2016. As Europe heads into a packed election year, fears are running high that the anti-establishment, anti-immigrant and anti-globalization sentiments that pushed Britain toward Brexit and the United States toward Trump will deal the Continent a decisive blow in 2017.
And yet, as much as the doomsayers would have us believe that far-right parties are on the cusp of prevailing in the heart of Europe, the truth is that the populist surge is far from unstoppable.
In the Netherlands, where elections will take place on March 15, far-right firebrand Geert Wilders has seen his once solid lead over Prime Minister Mark Rutte wither. The two men’s parties are now tied in the polls, and even if Wilders takes the top spot, there is little chance he will be able to form a governing coalition.
French far-right candidate Marine Le Pen is not faring much better. She may be holding steady in the polls, but she has seen her commanding lead neutralized by independent candidate Emmanuel Macron. And she’s expected to lose a runoff against virtually any other contender in the second round.