Europe’s Populists Loved Trump, Now They Are Leaving Him


Rome – how soon they forget. During Trump’s pre-pandemic presidential elevation, Georgia Meloni, Italy’s foremost right-leaning politician and leader of the Italy Party of Brothers, gave him every chance he expected to be his star among the populist Will provide some reliability. But since his apparent loss to Joe Biden, Meloni has forgotten his man in Washington. “I have shared ideas and values ​​with Trump and in recent years I have worked to strengthen the relationship,” she told reporters this week. “But I’m not hailing anyone.”

Meloni’s sentiments have been echoed by some of Trump’s strongest supporters. Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Jauhsan – seen by some as Europe’s Trump – is already cuddling up to Biden on climate change, an issue almost no one agreed on Trump. Many lawmakers in Germany’s Trump-supporting Alternative for Germany party have also shown reluctance to accept Biden’s victory after initially repeating Trump’s voter fraud claims.

And Hungary’s Viktor Orban was one of the first European leaders to congratulate Biden on his victory, being the only European leader to openly support Trump’s re-election, calling a second term “Plan A” . It helps little that Biden spares little love for Orban, mentioning him as a Trump henchman on the campaign trail. “You see what has happened in everything from Belarus to Hungary, and the rise of totalitarian rule in the world,” Biden said. “This president embraces all the thugs in the world.”

Former President of the European Council Donald Tusk, who now heads Europe’s largest liberal conservative party, called the European People’s Party, was quick to claim that Trump’s end would be the end of populism. “Trump’s defeat could also be the beginning of the end of the conquest of far-flung populations in Europe,” he wrote after Biden’s victory. But analysts say it is far more complex.

Rosa Balfour, European director of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, predicts Europe’s populists who ride the Trump and Brexit wave will be just fine without them. “We saw that Trump used populism, but it was more about reducing the rule of law than populism,” he told the Daily Beast, while leaders in Poland and Hungary equated democracy and governance Used systematic attack. By law, “as Trump, they don’t really need him to maintain it.”

“With respect to Hungary and Poland, they will be favored for the Biden presidency, and in the big picture, they know that many strategic issues such as security are better served by Biden,” she said. “Orbán is a very clever politician, he is very pragmatic, he managed to go too far with very little scrutiny, which will not change.”

Like the US, Balfour says it will not be voters in the absence of Trump, who will eventually exclude leaders such as Orban and Polish President Andrzej Duda, whose Poland law and the Justice Party have won in recent elections, This is largely attributed to Duda’s White House visit with Trump and which has so far failed to recognize Biden’s victory. “It won’t change anything,” she says. “Trump can’t change Poland and Hungary, it will be Hungary and Polish.”

Pavel Zarka, policy partner for the European Council on Foreign Relations, says the Trump-free era will have an impact and that the sooner Europe’s populist leaders get a new hero, the better it will be for them. “The US 2020 election is also important to them because it deprives them of either an ally or at least, a useful reference point on the global political map; One, more than anyone else, has contributed to shifting the boundaries of what is or is not acceptable in public discourse, ”he wrote in a post-election essay. “Trump’s legacy in the region may well underline his presidency – and wherever he is, he will remain in trouble.”

It is the second-tier leaders who have elevated the halls of power only like Italy’s Meloni and then-leader Mateo Salvini, who gained the most under Trump’s presidency because their strength lies in the circumstances they identify and exploit inequality can do. Being left behind. “They don’t have power, but they were powerful,” Balfour says. “They really embraced them, they helped them see that if you create chaos, even if you run the risk and cause clashes, you weaken the governing coalition.” Trump does not need these learned techniques to work.

Nevertheless, the fact that Trump once won is still more important to European populists, writes Zarka. On the fact that Trump was elected at all, he hopes to “make them more elective or he hopes that one day they can win too”, he says. Even more “from the fact that he eventually lost. It will be expecting them for years to come. “

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