Mark Rutte has suffered the same fate as his closest ally in Europe, Angela Merkel. Both center-right leaders moved to the middle in a bid for centrist voters only to leave a gap on the right that the far right has filled.
In midterm elections on Wednesday, the Dutch Freedom Party and Forum for Democracy won a combined 21 percent of the votes, their best result to date.
In Germany, support for the Alternative is down a few points in the polls but still at 11-14 percent. Merkel’s Christian Democrats fell from 41.5 to 33 percent between the 2013 and 2017 elections. Read more
Party Warms to Merkel’s Successor. German Voters Not So Much
It was supposed to be a subtle shift to the right.
In anointing the socially conservative former prime minister of Saarland, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, as her successor, Angela Merkel signaled to Germany’s Christian Democrats that after fourteen years of her consensus politics — which even inspired a verb: merkeln — they would return to their right-wing, Christian roots, but without altogether repudiating the centrist strategy that has made the CDU so successful.
The last few weeks have called that balancing act into question. Read more
The Financial Times wonders if Austria’s Sebastian Kurz is the savior of Europe’s center-right or an enabler of the far right.
His supporters, including the liberal-minded former prime minister of Finland, Alexander Stubb, see the Austrian as the antidote to Orbanism:
He talks about an open world, internationalism and is pro-European. But he is pragmatic about solving issues. And one of the big issues is immigration.
Critics argue that by taking a hard line on immigration, Kurz is legitimizing the far right. “You don’t fight fire with kerosene,” according to former chancellor and former Social Democratic Party leader Christian Kern. Read more
How to Interpret the Collapse of Bavaria’s Christian Democrats?
How much of a cautionary tale is the center-right’s collapse in Bavaria?
The Christian Social Union (CSU), which allies with Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats nationally, is down from nearly 48 percent support in the last state election to 35-37 percent in recent polls. The far-right Alternative for Germany is up from 4 to 11-13 percent. Read more
Two-Party System Leaves Anti-Trump Republicans in the Lurch
Janan Ganesh argues in the Financial Times that, after Donald Trump, America’s Republicans must become more like the European center-right: shed their small-government, low-tax, free-trade ideology in favor of a pragmatism statism. The state can be an instrument of national togetherness.
Perhaps. But what of the Republicans who still believe in small government, low taxes and free trade? Read more