Remember back in December when we all screamed “Get 2016 over and done with already”? It’s only been a month. The political sphere is already showing signs of inevitable turmoil. Following Trump’s success in the US elections back in 2016, Europe seems to be catching onto a particular unfortunate trend. Several of its Member States are currently witnessing a rise in populist beliefs.
There’s an evident problem within the Union, and that is of course, tackling immigration at our borders. For a discerning number of citizens, the phenomenon of immigration is simultaneous to the problem of terrorism. Terrorist attacks in Europe are majorly orchestrated by ISIL militants, with the rare exception of lone-wolf attacks. Each and every person of Islamic faith is automatically associated to the increasing threat of terrorism. Now, many Europeans in several Member States criticise the Union for failing to create an efficient means of dealing with the issue. And thus, populism is born out of the notion that it is the European Union that is to blame for allowing these ‘criminals’ into our lands and, in turn, allowing individual national sovereignty to be lost.
We thought we’d seen the end of populism last year, with the defeat of Austria’s Norbert Hofner, but that was only the beginning. The Dutch PVV, fronted by Geert Wilders, is continuously attracting more followers. Wilders wants to ban the Qoran on the basis that it incites hatred and violence. More over, it would be to no surprise to anyone that he’s a fervent supporter of Trump’s. Wilders has publicly congratulated the US President on his Muslim Ban. However, he does not intend to kick anyone out of the country. But of course, even this statement of his has strings attached — foreigners inhabiting the Netherlands are to adhere to national norms and traditions, without imposition. By default, freedom of religion will be lost. In France, Marine Le Pen mesmerises the crowds with her vigorous nationalism. She wants a ban on immigration entirely. Now, with Fillon out of the way (probably), she’s up against Emmanuel Macron. Her chances of winning might have augmented.
This is not the first time that the French and the Dutch have contended against the Union’s values. In 2004, the Constitutional Treaty was never ratified. Both did not sign in favour. 2017 is a clear example, so far, of history repeating itself. I’ve often wondered why it is that nationalism has gained such popularity. On the other side of the pond, there’s Trump screaming “Let’s make America great again!”. Nigel Farage condoned this, and went on to sermonise that Britain should be restored to its former glory (and we all know how that turned out).
And similarly, Le Pen and Wilders want to take back their sovereignty. The anti-EU sentiment seems to be growing. It is as though these countries are stuck in the age in which they were global super powers, colonising vulnerable, under-developed nations and leaching off their lands. With the exception of the USA, of course. They have not yet grasped the notion that imperialism is outdated and no longer applicable in today’s world, especially under the watchful eye of the United Nations. What does a win for Wilders and Le Pen mean to the Union? Another loss, economically and politically. Though the Union, up until now, has survived Brexit, it won’t survive the loss of France.