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
French Parties Must Figure Out How to Survive in the Era of Macron
Emmanuel Macron has redrawn the political map of France.
There used to be two major parties, one of the center-left (Socialists) and one of the center-right (Republicans), with smaller parties on the far left and far right. Macron’s centrist project, La République En Marche!, has thrown them all in disarray.
France Unbowed is a new far-left party cobbled together by Jean-Luc Mélenchon, a former communist. Although an improvement over the once hopelessly divided politics of the far left, it doesn’t get more than 20 percent support.
For the Socialists, there isn’t much room between France Unbowed on the left and Macron in the center. Their support is in the single digits.
The Republicans are similarly caught between Macron on the one hand and the National Front on the other, but at least they still have a substantial base of around 20 percent.
The National Front probably hit its ceiling in the 2017 presidential election, when Marine Le Pen got 34 percent support in the second voting round against Macron. Read more
France’s two right-wing parties are struggling to remain united in the era of Emmanuel Macron.
Lawmakers friendly to the president have split from the center-right Republicans to form a new party, Agir (Act).
Prominent Republicans, like Bruno Le Maire and Édouard Philippe, have joined Macron’s government.
More centrists are expected to defect if the hardliner Laurent Wauquiez prevails in a party leadership vote next month.
The far right is also divided: Marine Le Pen’s former right-hand man, Florian Philippot, has created a new party to appeal to blue-collar workers in the rust belt of northern France while the rest of the National Front is focused on its heartland in the socially conservative southeast. Read more
Other Conservatives Should Be Wary of Imitating Kurz and May
Center-right parties in Western Europe are responding to competition from the nativist right in radically different ways.
Whereas Dutch prime minister and liberal party leader Mark Rutte argued against the “pessimism” of the nationalist Freedom Party in the March election and won, conservative leaders in Austria and the United Kingdom have chosen to appease reactionary voters. Read more
Neither of France’s two major political parties was able to get their candidate into the second voting round of the presidential election last week. That failure, without precedent in the history of the Fifth Republic, has plunged them both into a deep crisis. Read more