‘If You’ve Got it, Flaunt It’Posted: January 22, 2017
Do they got it? Perhaps they do. The European parties hope for similar success in tapping anti-establishment and protectionist sentiment in elections this year.
KOBLENZ, Germany (AP) — European nationalist leaders came together Saturday in a show of strength at the start of a year of big election tests, celebrating Donald Trump’s inauguration as U.S. president and declaring themselves a realistic alternative to the continent’s governments.
Right-wing populist leaders from France, the Netherlands, Germany, Italy and elsewhere strode confidently into the Koblenz congress hall on the banks of the Rhine River ahead of a flag-waving escort, setting the tone for a gathering whose mood was buoyed by Trump’s swearing-in. The European parties hope for similar success in tapping anti-establishment and protectionist sentiment in elections this year.
“I believe we are witnessing historic times,” Dutch anti-Islam leader Geert Wilders told reporters. “The world is changing. America is changing. Europe is changing. And the people start getting in charge again.”
Wilders, speaking in English, declared that “the genie will not go back into the bottle again, whether you like it or not.”
The Netherlands will provide the next major test for populist parties’ support. Wilders’ Party of Freedom could win the largest percentage of votes in the March 15 Dutch parliamentary election, even though it is shunned by other parties and unlikely to get a share of power.
Marine Le Pen, leader of France’s far-right National Front, is among the top contenders in France’s April-May presidential vote. In September, Frauke Petry’s four-year-old Alternative for Germany party hopes to enter the German parliament in a national election, riding sentiment against German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s welcoming policy toward refugees. Other German parties say they won’t work with the anti-immigrant group.
Those at the Koblenz conference Saturday are part of the Europe of Nations and Freedom group in the European Parliament, which was launched in 2015. The gathering also featured Matteo Salvini of Italy’s anti-migrant Northern League and Harald Vilimsky, the general secretary of Austria’s right-wing Freedom Party, which last year narrowly failed to win the country’s presidency.
Trump “is a winner, we are winners: Frauke Petry, Marine Le Pen, Geert Wilders, all of us here are winners,” Vilimsky told an audience of around 1,000.
Speakers also denounced “political Islam” and Europe’s common currency, the euro, which Salvini labeled “a failed, criminal experiment.”
Le Pen reveled in Trump taking power in the United States, months after Britain voted to leave the 28-nation European Union in a referendum that she hopes to emulate…(read more)
Source: The Japan News
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