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How rising populism could shake up European elections

I partiti populisti, dice il quotidiano britannico, non riusciranno a formare una coalizione di maggioranza nel prossimo parlamento europeo. Ma la loro possibile affermazione potrebbe creare un dissesto notevole nella prossima assemblea legislativa

It is the biggest electoral contest in Europe, but frequently leaves many voters indifferent. Turnout in European parliament elections has been declining ever since the first votes in 1979.

Could this time be different? The next European elections will take place in May 2019, less than two months after Brexit day, and never before have the elections been labelled so decisive by so many European leaders.

During his successful run for the French presidency, Emmanuel Macron cast himself as the leader of the anti-populist, pro-EU forces. His opponents are eager to join the battle. Matteo Salvini, Italy’s deputy prime minister and leader of the anti-EU League party, declared (paywall) that the elections would be “a referendum between the Europe of the elites, of banks, of finance, of immigration and precarious work” versus “the Europe of people and labour”.

Hungary’s nationalist prime minister, Viktor Orbán, has said the vote will be a chance to say goodbye “not simply to liberal democracy … but to the 1968 elite”.

Parties such as Salvini’s League, Alternative für Deutschland in Germany and Marine Le Pen’s National Rally are expected to do well. A recent poll showed that the National Rally, formerly the National Front, had edged ahead of Macron, with 21% support, ahead of 19% for the president’s party, La République en Marche.

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