Europe celebrates the victory of Emmanuel Macron while he vows unity after winning French presidential election on Sunday. After the Brexit vote and the election of Donald Trump as US president, the race for the Élysée was the latest election to shake up establishment politics by kicking out the figures that stood for the status quo. Brussels welcomes Macron in the atmosphere of a “European spring” where the extremists have received two setbacks in two key countries for the EU, the Netherlands and France. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has summed up Brussels’ sentiment by declaring himself happy that the French have chosen a European future.
But is this the end of far right and nationalist parties in Europe? One would made the mistake of thinking the battle has been won by the democrats, progressives and the liberals with Macron in the Élysée. One should not forget that 43% of the voters of Macron chose him because either they refused to vote the traditional parties, or because they wanted to stop the rise of far-right Front National. More than a third of those who have voted in the second round have done so by Marine Le Pen. The result of the French elections might have been better than the victories of Trump and Brexit, but in a sense, the political and social is worse in these cases. Marine Le Pen’s almost 11 million votes — more than 1 in 3 of the total cast — making the best result for her far-right party, it is not a result to celebrate. This record in the Far-Right vote suggests the populist surge is not over; if we fail to reframe the European institutions, we risk to have Le Pen as president in 2022.
In Nationalism and Populism beyond the EU, we explore the effects of nationalism beyond France and the borders of the Union, the rise of the National Front and other populists movements and its repercussions in other European countries. Why could Marine Le Pen aspire to win the French elections? How does the citizens of the Balkans analyze and perceive the rise of populism in Europe? Why the left has not been able to channel the wrath of many citizens, especially of the working class? We discuss it in our new Talk Real episode of the series in the Balkans.