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How the Rise of the European Right Will Impact the 2024 Election

A 2016 redux?

Nigel Farage – Mr. Brexit – led an insurgent campaign in 2016 against the British establishment. Simultaneously across the pond, Donald Trump, a private citizen, launched his own gambit to claim the White House. Eight years later, it appears that history is on the verge of repeating itself – or at least singing a very familiar tune in 2024.

2024 and 2016 – The Stars Align?

Farage – after a hiatus from front-line politics – has declared himself a candidate in the upcoming UK general election on July 4, resuming his position as leader of the Reform Party (formerly known as the Brexit Party). Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Labour opposition leader Sir Kier Starmer are locked in a battle for which party will control the direction of the nation. But, as in 2016, it seems their greatest fear is having Farage in Parliament. As well it should be.

Brexit – the British withdrawal from the European Union – was Farage’s ambition. He led not one but two separate parties to defeat Labour and the Conservatives in EU elections. Although he and his party will almost certainly not form a majority in the next Parliament, there is an undercurrent of dissatisfaction in the nation that he appears to be riding.

Trump once noted that his 2016 victory and Brexit were linked. Although each one could have happened without the other, it remains true that the zeitgeist of the day was the driving force behind both. So here we are again, many years later, and the timing, as is often said, seems rather auspicious. Is it possible that such a tableau – frozen in time – is making a political comeback?

An International Faux Pas

In a recent Time interview, President Joe Biden broke diplomatic norms and spilled the beans on what he claims foreign leaders are telling him. He said: “There’s not a major international meeting I attend that, before it’s over, and I’ve attended many, more than most presidents have in three and a half years, that a world leader doesn’t pull me aside as I’m leaving and say, ‘He can’t win. You can’t let him win.'”

GettyImages-2156087334 Joe Biden

Joe Biden Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

Putting aside for one moment Biden’s tenuous relationship with his “stories,” what world leader would risk such international intrigue by interfering in America’s domestic affairs? Naturally, the president never names names. But why is such a statement being accepted as the truth by the collective Fourth Estate?

In 2016, Trump was the victim of an unfounded smear campaign that was later proven to be nothing more than opposition research paid for – in part – by the Hillary Clinton campaign. Notably, her campaign and the Democratic National Committee were forced to pay the FEC a fine of more than $100,000 for filing the research expenses under legal fees, a ruling that some have suggested is quite ironic given recent developments. In 2024, Trump is again being smeared by his chief opposition, but this time regarding the alleged terror other nations feel at his return to the White House.

Similar echoes of chaos are being uttered in Europe against right-leaning politicians and political parties as they aim to claw control from the ubiquitous left-of-center ruling parties that suffuse much of the Continent.

The Grand European Tour

Today (June 6) the European Union will hold elections across its member states to elect an EU Parliament. But rather than a cozy consensus of pro-EU politicos taking the majority, this time it is expected that so-called “far-right” parties will be making significant gains (just as Farage did with both his United Kingdom Independence and Brexit parties). In fact, it is expected that roughly one-third of all available seats will go to parties that fall under this moniker. But the EU is not the only government in Europe (perhaps confusing to Americans), and it is in the individual countries that a populist groundswell is underway.

In May, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni spoke of the upcoming EU elections. She said: “We are on the eve of a decisive election. We are the engine of our continent’s renaissance.” Her party, Brother of Italy, is likely to be the biggest Italian winner.

In France, Marine Le Pen, who in 2017 and 2022 lost two consecutive races to President Emmanuel Macron, is polling high and is widely expected to win the presidency next year. In Holland, Geert Wilders won the majority of votes in the 2023 election and is in the process of forming a coalition government.

Many of these names will be familiar to those who were watching European politics back in 2015-16.

Notes From the Past

In 1992, Pat Buchanan spoke at the Republican National Convention, delivering what is now called his Culture War Address.  While George H.W. Bush went on to be defeated by Bill Clinton, the rallying cry identified a subsection of Americans that could just as easily be applied to folks over in Europe. He said:

“My friends, these people are our people. They don’t read Adam Smith or Edmund Burke, but they come from the same schoolyards and the same playgrounds and towns as we come from. They share our beliefs and convictions, our hopes and our dreams. They are the conservatives of the heart.

“They are our people. And we need to reconnect with them. We need to let them know we know how bad they’re hurting. They don’t expect miracles of us, but they need to know we care.”

It was an entreaty that seems just as relevant today as it did then. The public – on either side of the Atlantic Ocean and on either side of the political divide – are not expecting miracles but rather an acknowledgment that things are bad and that they need to change. In the US and the UK, the economy is in tatters, and mass illegal immigration is at a record high – two conditions that ushered in Brexit and Trump’s first term as president.

In 2016, the world experienced a political earthquake from which it has yet to fully recover. Yet the fault lines are still there, and one wonders if another crack in the status quo is about to happen. Trump and Farage are both more than capable of shaking things up and delivering another aftershock of similar magnitude in 2024.

 

Read More From Mark Angelides

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