In the upcoming final round of the French elections, President Jacques Chirac is expected to win reelection easily over the ultra-conservative candidate Jean-Marie Le Pen. However, Le Pen’s elimination of Socialist Prime Minister Lionel Jospin in the first round—which earned him the right to face Chirac—has sent shock waves throughout Europe and around the world.
Le Pen’s surprise showing in the opening round is only the latest demonstration that politicians from the conservative and the far right wings of the political spectrum are attracting growing support from voters in many other European countries, including Germany, Austria, Italy, and the Netherlands. These far right candidates are often strongly nationalistic, anti-European Union, anti-immigration, and in a few cases anti-Semitic.
A panel of knowledgeable Brookings scholars will discuss the meaning of the strong Le Pen showing in France and of the increasing popularity of right wing candidates across Europe in advance of the final round of the French elections. The panel will examine the causes and impact of this trend, and whether it threatens to overturn the left-of-center consensus that has characterized European politics for many years.
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[The recent Senate Foreign Relations Committee report on Russian meddling] is a thorough and comprehensive view of Russia’s decades-long political warfare against the West. The lesson learned from Europe, which has borne the brunt of Russian attacks, is that Russia can be deterred but that requires leadership. For that reason, this report would have sent a much stronger message to the Trump administration if it had Republican support. As is, it is an urgent warning and a call to action, but it may fall on deaf ears.
Extreme right-wing and xenophobic tendencies have been for decades a constant and broadly accepted element of Italian political life.