Published December 22, 2021
Many anti-Trump Republicans long for the day when they can retake their party and expel the populist deviations from orthodoxy that vex them so. Evidence from around the world shows this is a pipe dream.
The same fissures in the old conservative coalition that plague the GOP appear in virtually every other modern democracy. Nationalist and populist parties have grown dramatically in the past decade, often gaining near parity with incumbent center-right parties. Urban and suburban moderate voters, meanwhile, have often swung to classically liberal or green parties that are comfortable aligning with left-wing governments.
We can see this clearly in European polls and recent election results. Scandinavian polls show national populist parties obtaining between 11 and 19 percent of the vote. EKRE, Estonia’s populist incarnation, now leads that nation’s polls with 22 percent, while the Flemish separatist and anti-immigrant Vlaams Belang leads Belgian surveys. National populist parties in Austria and Spain are polling in the high-teens, and a trio of nationalist parties garnered nearly a quarter of Dutch voters in recent surveys. No center-right coalition can emerge without these parties’ involvement.
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Henry Olsen is a Washington Post columnist and a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.