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Trump Torpedoes Europe’s Far Right

As far as Europe’s far right is concerned, Trump is a loser.

He is the nemesis of an intensifying European far right movement that has suddenly turned sour. Like the Black Plague of mid-14th century Europe, whatever happens, stay away from him! Poll numbers as well as voting for far right candidates throughout Europe drop with a hair-trigger when candidates associate with Trump.

Conversely, Trump may be the best that ever happened to establishment policies, like neoliberalism. Unwittingly, he’s pulling neoliberalism out of a very deep hole, i.e., a failure to perform for the public at large both economically and socially. As it happens, hopelessness describes neoliberalism’s impact on much of the bourgeoisie and all of the proletariat, as modern-day society reverts to an awkward form of economic feudalism but without fancy titles. Still, the serf count remains about the same.

Back in the day, meaning 2016 and during the initial months of 2017, the far right in Europe gravitated to Trump’s right side or hardnosed libertarianism, unaffectionately known as Los Destructo, under direction of Bannon, which leaves little or no room for those whom voted for Trump in the first place. Remarkably, comatose bewildered American voters in November 2016 essentially bequeathed votes to reality TV flat screens nestled in their basement family rooms.

Did they waste votes?

Nowadays, but not in 2016, Europe’s far right would likely say: “Yes, they wasted their votes.”

Whereas, only a few short months ago on November 9, 2016: “Cas Mudde, a Dutch political scientist at the University of Georgia, says, ‘Trump’s win gives a narrative of success, of possibility, to far-right parties in Europe, because Trump won despite all the predictions. So they can say to people, ‘You’re not wasting your vote if you come out and vote for us. We will actually do much better than what everyone says.’ ” (Source: Eleanor Beardsley, Trump’s Election Gives Hope To Europe’s Far Right, NPR, Nov. 9, 2016.)

How quickly things change once reality exposes delusion. As of today throughout Europe Trump’s burgeoning affliction is like an outbreak of small pox, stay away. The hard evidence is found in polling and voting data. Continent-wide anybody associated with Trump is standing in a deep pile of doo-doo. Proof: Since Trump won the White House, every major European election crushes far right candidates. The true reality of Trump has turned the world to the value of neoliberalism as a safety valve, warts and all.

For example in France, Marine Le Pen’s National Front only won 13% of the vote in the French legislative elections, a crushing defeat that seriously underperformed her prior standings in the polls. Without reservation, Trump mentioned Le Pen favorably.

More telling than Le Pen getting hammered so badly, Austria’s liberal candidate Van der Bellen, a month after Trump won the presidency, in a revote for the presidency, beat the daylights out of far right Freedom Party’s Norbert Hofer. Six months earlier the candidates were neck-in-neck with only 0.6% separating them. Hofer cited Trump as “inspirational.” Hofer got creamed.

Not surprisingly, the Trump factor is AC/DC; it goes both ways, wide right or near left. For example, Germany’s Chancellor Merkel is no fan of Trump. Ipso facto, Merkel is rising fast in the polls. In fact, her advisors refer to her newfound popularity as the “Trump Factor.” Today, 64% of Germans are satisfied with Merkel’s job. Thanks to Trump, she’s the most popular politician in Germany.

Meanwhile, Germany’s far-out right wing-nuts, known as Alternative for Germany, which sympathizes with Trump, has lost 50% in the polls since Trump’s November election victory. If Alternative for Germany, that advocated shooting immigrants, do not follow the Trump bandwagon, then who’s left?

Interestingly, the Trump affliction seemingly has no boundaries. For example, establishment neoliberals that show affection for Trump, like PM Theresa May of the UK, plummet in popularity, same as far right extremists. She was the first head of state to visit Trump and the only head of state seen holding hands with him while walking along the corridors of the White House. Her conservative party blew apart a commanding 17% lead in the polls, losing its majority in Parliament and deleveraging their influence at the very moment when strong leadership is required for Brexit negotiations.

Meanwhile, Dutch voters crushed the Netherlands far right leader Geert Wilders aka: #WeWillMakeOurCountriesGreatAgain, the Party for Freedom, who praised Trump’s example as the second coming in Europe but dropping almost 50% in poll numbers after Trump’s win.

“By mid-February, when the race in the Netherlands began, Trump had been in office for several weeks, and Dutch voters had gotten a chance to observe him as president. They didn’t like what they saw.” (Source: David A. Graham, Is Trump Dragging Down the European Far-Right? The Atlantic, March 16, 2017.)

Nate Silver’s Fivethirtyeight.com article “Donald Trump is Making Europe Liberal Again” carries a list of far right parties that have fallen since Trump was elected, no victories, thus providing strong empirical evidence that association with Trump is a kiss of death.

Fortunately for Trump, his constituency ends in America where cartoons reflect politics.

Postscript: NBC News – Vienna: Europe’s Far-Right Enjoys Backing from Russia’s Putin, d/d Feb. 13, 2017: “While U.S. intelligence agencies investigate claims that Russia secretly hacked emails to help tip last year’s elections in favor of Donald Trump, Russia’s push to bolster far-right populist politicians in Europe has been far more blatant. Under President Vladimir Putin, Russia is working to empower Europe’s far-right and Eurosceptic parties with offers of cooperation, loans, political cover and propaganda. Such love has not gone unrequited: European populists are answering back with fulsome praise for Russia, its foreign policy and its strongman leader.”
If Russia blatantly, in the raw, offered “loans, political cover and propaganda” to Europe’s far right, then what of America’s far right?

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Robert Hunziker lives in Los Angeles and can be reached at rlhunziker@gmail.com.

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