Europe is trending rightward


Published June 20, 2024

WORLD Opinions

With all eyes fixed on a historic presidential election this fall, most Americans may be even less apt than usual to pay attention to political developments across the pond. But European politics can often serve as a bellwether of shifting political winds, as in 2016, when the shocking Brexit vote turned out to foreshadow the populist surge that propelled Donald Trump to the White House the first time. Could history be about to repeat itself?

This time, it is France, not Britain, in the spotlight. After his party suffered a crushing defeat in the European Parliament elections earlier this month, winning less than half as many seats as Marine Le Pen’s National Rally party, French President Emmanuel Macron shocked his own party and fellow heads of state by calling for snap parliamentary elections, to be held June 30.

Macron’s ascent back in 2017 had been heralded as proof that populism could be stopped in its tracks, that there was still room in Western democracies for a stable, technocratic, centrist leader committed to international institutions. Instead, Macron has watched his support bleed away to Le Pen, once considered a pariah for her fierce anti-immigration and anti-Islamist rhetoric. His gamble now is that the right’s success in the European elections was merely a protest vote, and that when actually faced with the prospect of giving National Rally control of the French National Assembly, voters will come to their senses.

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Brad Littlejohn, Ph.D., is a Fellow in EPPC’s Evangelicals in Civic Life Program, where his work focuses on helping public leaders understand the intellectual and historical foundations of our current breakdown of public trust, social cohesion, and sound governance. His research investigates shifting understandings of the nature of freedom and authority, and how a more full-orbed conception of freedom, rooted in the Christian tradition, can inform policy that respects both the dignity of the individual and the urgency of the common good. He also serves as President of the Davenant Institute.

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