Populism in Europe didn’t start with Brexit, or end there. And what it is really, is the people of Europe becoming less enthralled by the political establishment. (Sounds kind of familiar somehow.) European mix of hope and despair transcends populism
First the definition of populism.
Populism is a term that anti-populists use to describe people they don’t like. I have not yet come across a card-carrying populist. Populism is not a form of self-designation and people do not knowingly refer to themselves as populist. Hungary is often described as the centre of European populism. When I ask people in Budapest about their populism, they look bemused. One history undergraduate student explains to me that when “you guys in the West call us populist, what you really mean is that we are a bunch of provincial hicks”.
The folks of Europe are getting tired with the political establishment, from France, to The Netherlands, they are “kicking the establishment in the face.”
The first sign of revolt against the old order was the rejection of the proposed EU constitution by the French and Dutch electorates in June 2005. Since then the authority of the EU has further diminished and many western European parties of government are fighting for their survival.
And is isn’t a bunch of wild-eyed folks rejecting the establishment.
The Dutch Eurosceptic activists and their supporters bore no resemblance to the media caricature of the illiterate racist populist who despises all things foreign. Like their Italian peers in the Five Star Movement they are young, idealistic and looking for a new way of doing politics.
The established media in Europe as in the US is in bed with the political establishment. They don’t want to see the establishment overturned, because it impacts them as well as the people they “report” on. (Mostly it seems like reporters are just publishing talking points of the folks they like, and ignoring opposing points of view.)