European Populists Who Looked to Trump Now Look Away

Steven Erlanger, The New York Times, 13.01.2021

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The riot at the U.S. Capitol and bogus claims of election fraud have led former allies of President Trump to distance themselves.

For Europe's populists, the electoral defeat of President Trump, who has been a symbol of success and a strong supporter, was bad enough. But his refusal to accept defeat and the violence that followed appears to have damaged the prospects of similarly minded leaders across the continent. [...]

Janis A. Emmanouilidis, director of studies at the European Policy Center in Brussels, said that there was no uniform European populism. The various movements have different characteristics in different countries, and outside events are only one factor in their varying popularity, he noted.

"Now the most pressing issue is Covid-19, but it's not at all clear how politics will play out post-pandemic," he said. "But," he added, "the fear of the worst helps to avoid the worst."

The "amazing polarization of society" and the violence in Washington "creates a lot of deterrence in other societies," Mr. Emmanouilidis said. "We see where it leads, we want to avoid it, but we are aware that we too could get to that point, that things could escalate."

If economies tank and populists gain power in France or Italy, he said, "God forbid when Europe faces the next crisis." That concern — with an eye on the 2022 election — seems to have been partly why Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany has been so solicitous of France and of the demands of Mr. Macron. [...]

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