The European right is in retreat

By Ryan Cooper The Week

For several years after the 2008 financial crisis, it seemed that any brand of European lefty party, from socialist to milquetoast liberal, was on the road to extinction. Center-right or even far-right parties dominated elections from the Nordics to Hungary. The one high-profile success on the left, Greece’s Syriza, was mercilessly crushed by European Union technocrats in 2015.

But today, conservative parties are struggling and the broad left is showing signs of strength across Europe. It’s a tentative sign that the far-right extremism fueled by the 2008 economic crisis is running into its limits.

In Germany, for instance, recent elections saw the center-right Union party alliance (CDU/CSU) turn in the worst performance since its founding in 1949, with just 24 percent of the vote and 196 seats in the Bundestag — beaten outright by center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD), which got 26 percent and 206 seats, their best performance since 2002. The Green Party had its best-ever result at 15 percent, while the centrist Liberals increased slightly to 12 percent. Further out parties lost on both sides — the far-right Alternative for Germany fell two points to 10 percent, while the Left Party had its worst showing since it was founded in 2007, not even reaching 5 percent.

Coalition talks are underway, but it is reportedly likely that there will be a “stop light” coalition between the SPD, the Greens, and the Liberals. If true, that would mean the first non-conservative German chancellor since Angela Merkel first won in 2005.


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