Europe may be witness to a new political era

The success of Marine Le Pen and the National Front (FN) in France underlines the shifting plates of European politics.

She is far right, anti-Europe and anti-immigration, but many of those who voted for her once voted for the Communists and the Socialists.

She has attempted to reinvent the FN as the party of the voiceless, the left-behind and the angry.

Her appeal is to a working class that feels disenfranchised.

In Germany, Angela Merkel is not just in coalition with the Social Democrats – she has also moved to the left.

She agreed to an increase in the minimum wage and, much to the shock of many of her traditional supporters, has welcomed nearly a million refugees.

She is the leader of the European mainstream.

She often declares: “Germany is our homeland. Europe is our future.”

Yet a recent poll found that 48% of Germans do not want her to stay as Chancellor, because of the migrant crisis.

In the modern politics, authority can evaporate swiftly.

Rebranded message

In the UK, the Conservatives are out to shrink the state; total public spending is set to fall to 36.4% of national income.

And yet, here too, the party is rebranding itself.

The Conservatives base their appeal on management of the economy.

In these times, the traditional centre-left is struggling.

In Italy, the centre-left under Matteo Renzi is pre-occupied with reforming the Italian state, its political culture, its legal system and its economy.

Timid reforms

In France, under President Hollande, the Socialists have been timid.

They have failed to bring down unemployment or deliver a truly flexible labour market.

The French president has been unwilling to challenge a country nostalgic for what is loosely called the French way of life.

Full article: Europe may be witness to a new political era (BBC)

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