Nationalist Fervor on the rise

Steven LeBlanc
12 04 2016a

Marine Le Pen (L), France’s National Front political party leader, kisses Netherland’s Geert Wilders, president of PVV (Party for Freedom) during the far-right French party’s congress.

The financial crisis of 2007–8, and the subsequent real-estate downturn caused households in the United States to lose trillions in wealth and led unemployment in countries such as Greece and Spain to rise to 20 percent and more, where it has remained ever since. It is barely unexpected that following the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, the populist/nationalist movement is surging over in Europe.

The financial contagion of 2008-savaged Europe (creating high unemployment); crushed the world’s appetite for Chinese products and finally undercut the world market for oil. The effects of 2008 financial storm has steered countries in Europe in the direction of Nationalism, which is anti globalism, Nation-first thinking.

Nationalism helped elevate Donald Trump to the Presidency. The nationalist surge can be seen in countries of widely differing circumstances, from prosperous Sweden to crisis-ridden Greece.  For many, this new form of populism is fueled by resentment against the elite government politicians.  Almost everywhere, Nationalism has captured the public’s attention.

Nationalism is a form of Populism.  It means different things to different groups, but all varieties share an anger and hostility toward elites, mainstream politics, and established institutions. Populism sees itself as speaking for the forgotten “ordinary” person and often imagines itself as the voice of genuine patriotism. “The only antidote to decades of ruinous rule by a small handful of political elites is a bold infusion of popular will.  On every major issue affecting this country, the people are right and the governing elite are wrong,”—That was Donald Trump writing in the WALL STREET JOURNAL in April.

Amongst a migrant crisis, lethargic economic growth and growing disappointment with the European Union, far-right parties — some established, others newly created — have been achieving electoral victory in a number of European nations. Citizens in America and Europe want more dramatic solutions and a bold, decisive leader willing to decree them. In the United States and elsewhere, there is rising support for just such a leader.

This weekend I am watching closely voting outcomes in Italy and Austria.  All the focus is on the Italian referendum but on Sunday the Austria presidential election rerun takes place and pits Green-party-backed candidate Alexander Van der Bellen against far-right populist Norbert Hofer.

12 04 2016b

Candidate Alexander Van der Bellen versus far-right populist Norbert Hofer

If Norbert Hofer wins he has promised to call a referendum on Austria’s membership in the EU. “Sanity instead of extremism” is his campaign slogan.  It’s another sign that the open borders, open immigration; unguarded trade era is under attack. Each Nationalist success will embolden other right-wing movements in Europe.

If Mr. Hoffer wins, it will be the first time that Europe elects a far-right head of state since 1945.  Who comes to power in these countries is yet to be seen, clearly we have a fascinating year ahead of us.  Nations and individuals ultimately reap what they sow:  Do not be deceived: “God cannot be mocked. A man [or nation] reaps what he [or the nation] sows”—Galatians 6:7.  This is a big weekend for Europe!

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