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EU Elections Are a Harbinger for November in the United States

Newsweek – Establishment Europe got a rude jolt on Sunday, when the European Union‘s 360 million citizens registered unprecedented support for far-Right populist parties—conservative nationalist groupings relegated to the fringe only a few years ago.

In France, the opposition Rassemblement National (RN) party won more than twice the votes of French President Emmanuel Macron‘s flagging Renaissance party, prompting the French leader to dissolve the allied parliamentary government and call snap elections later this month. Preliminary polls predict that the far-Right party will come close to winning a majority of National Assembly seats in the forthcoming elections, while Macron’s supporters in that body will only win about 20 percent of seats.

Meanwhile, in Germany despite a series of recent scandals recalling its Nazi past, the country’s Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) party outpolled each of the three parties in Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s Leftist governing coalition to finish second nationally behind the center-right Christian Democratic Union, which may have no choice but to work with AfD if it wishes to govern in the future.

Results in Greece, Cyprus, Italy, Spain, Austria, the Netherlands, and Belgium, whose prime minister resigned after the votes were tabulated, all registered significant far-Right gains, while far-Right parties in other countries like Hungary were diminished but maintained their dominance.

It remains to be seen how the Right-wing parties will work together in the European Parliament, but Europeans are clearly fed up, a fact readily acknowledged by beleaguered national leaders who suddenly claim to sympathize with their concerns as their political futures hang in the balance.

Strikingly, polls going into the European elections showed that voters’ top issues included poor national leadership, immigration, and economic troubles. If that sounds familiar to American readers, it should.

According to a Gallup poll released in May, poor national leadership tops the list of concerns among American voters at 21 percent, followed by immigration at 18 percent and the general state of the economy at 17 percent.

As most polls reveal, these shared priorities augur well for former and perhaps future president Donald J. Trump. According to an ABC News/Ipsos poll on the issues released last month, Trump enjoys a seven-point lead over President Joe Biden on leading the U.S. in the world, a 17-point lead over the incumbent on handling immigration, and a 14-point lead on the economy, with an identical 14-point lead on the related issue of inflation. Despite Trump’s criminal conviction and ongoing prosecutions, he continues to lead in most polls measuring the popular vote ahead of November’s election, including in all 2020 swing states, with the conviction registering either no effect or a slight bump in his favor.

Like their European counterparts, Americans increasingly find little hope in centrist solutions or establishment institutions. A Pew Research Center survey in 2023 found that just 16 percent of Americans trust the federal government “to do what is right” “just about all” or “most of the time,” the lowest number in 70 years. Gallup polls released last October show that 68 percent report little or no trust in the mainstream media, while 64 percent no longer trust higher education, figures that have undoubtedly diminished further in the wake of Hamas‘s attack on Israel and dubious responses to it in American institutional life. In 2022, a majority of Americans for the first time reported no trust in the judiciary. Nearly half believe a civil war is at least “somewhat likely” in the next few years.

At the same time, what’s left of the establishment GOP teeters on the verge of irrelevance as its star candidate, Nikki Haley, failed to pose any lasting challenge to Trump in the Republican primary contest and is out of contention for the vice presidential spot on his ticket, which could have primed her for the top job in 2028.

The party’s conservative nationalist populism will remain a fact of life for the foreseeable future, and as Europe’s elections have shown, it is the favorite to win in November.

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