Daily Archives: May 26, 2014

Tony Barber, the FT’s Europe editor, and Peter Spiegel, Brussels bureau chief on whether populist parties will change European politics.


By Gideon Rachman
Read the headlines about political extremism on the march in the European papers this morning and you might conclude that Europe is succumbing to political hysteria. But the biggest danger is not actually hysteria, it is complacency. It is highly likely that, when Europe’s leaders meet on Tuesday night, they will attempt to shrug off the results of the European elections and retreat into politics as usual. That would be a big mistake – possibly a fatal one.

Now that most of the results have come in from the European parliament elections, let’s take a family photograph of Europe’s presidents, chancellors and prime ministers. Who have the broadest smiles on their faces, and who are sobbing into their handkerchiefs?

Among the European Union’s six biggest states – France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Spain and the UK – the happiest leader must surely be Matteo Renzi, Italy’s premier. He won, and won big. Mr Renzi (above) demolished the notion that Beppe Grillo’s anti-establishment Five-Star Movement is on an unstoppable roll. He also inflicted an emphatic defeat on Silvio Berlusconi’s centre-right Forza Italia party.

Even though it was not a national election, the youthful Mr Renzi can now claim to have a mandate of sorts for the political, economic and social reforms that he knows are necessary to modernise Italy. This is not to say that he will succeed – the power of entrenched anti-reform interests in Italy is formidable. But maybe he has a better chance than he did 48 hours ago. Read more

The European parliament is about to become noisier, more unruly, more confusing and more difficult to deal with as a result of the European elections.

A surge in support for populist anti-European parties on the right and the left in countries such as the UK, France and Greece will leave the 751-member assembly without any clear majority on either side of the political spectrum. Read more

by Janan Ganesh

It is hard to think of a more wounding assault on the political mainstream in postwar British history. With votes still being counted, the United Kingdom Independence Party appears to have won the elections to the European Parliament that were held on Thursday. Its platform of opposition to the EU and immigration has attracted voters across the country, including in areas of previous weakness such as Scotland. There have been insurgent tremors before – the Greens came third in the European elections of 1989, Ukip itself did well five years ago – but this is something nearer the “earthquake” that the party has been threatening for some time. Nigel Farage, its leader, has justified the media hype of recent weeks. Read more