Taxes, protectionism… The economic policies of the populists in Europe under scrutiny

She is the woman who makes Europe tremble. Under the motto “God, Fatherland, Family”, Giorgia Meloni for Immigration Control and Sovereignty is on course to become the new President of the Italian Council. His post-fascist Fratelli d’Italia party won a quarter of the votes in the general elections on Sunday, September 25, allowing him to form a coalition government with the League of Matteo Salvini (anti-immigration) and Forza Italia (liberal right). Silvio Berlusconi. “We don’t want to destroy the European Union and we won’t go crazy”, she insisted all summer, unconvincingly. Many in Brussels fear his victory heralds the emergence of a brown wave in the old continent.

Because before the Fratelli d’Italia, Sweden’s Democrats, heirs to a neo-Nazi party, were ahead of the traditional right in their country’s September 11 parliamentary elections: Their elected representatives will be able to push through their demands against the next government. In Spain, Vox far right dreams of repeating Meloni’s success in the 2023 election series.

In the French general election in June, the National Rally (RN) won 17.3% of the vote and sent 89 MPs to the National Assembly, up from 8 in 2017. In the east, Hungary has been led by nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orban since 2010, while the Eurosceptic right – and Judicial Conservatives (PiS) hold Poland since 2015…

Also read: Article reserved for our subscribers How the nationalist Viktor Orban took Hungary’s economy under his thumb

“Almost no European country escapes the advance of the radical right”, summarizes Gilles Ivaldi, CNRS researcher at Cevipof, specialist in this field. Even long-spared Portugal saw the rise of the right-wing, anti-elitist Chega party in 2019. “On the 21ste At the beginning of the 20th century, the vote for the populists, mostly on the right, rose by 10 to 15 points, doubling their support, particularly in advanced economies.”observe economists Sergei Guriev and Elias Papaioannou in a study published in October 2020.

“We can’t put them all in one bag”

However, these movements form a very heterogeneous family. Some political scientists even refute the label of populism, saying it is too general. “Giorgia Meloni has certainly won the protest vote of some Italians, but she is more national conservative”believes Flavio Chiapponi from the political science faculty of the Italian University of Pavia. “Proof that we cannot all put them in the same bag, these parties sometimes have opposing views on Russia and do not all belong to the same political family in the European Parliament.”adds Pascale Joannin, Director General of the Robert Schuman Foundation.

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