Destinations Magazine

Part of the Furniture

By Stizzard
Part of the furniture

STROLLING around the European Parliament in Brussels recently Charlemagne asked his companion, an MEP’s assistant, if the success of anti-European parties in last May’s elections had changed the feel of the place. “Well, for one thing you see posters like that,” she said, pointing up at an image of Marine Le Pen gazing grandly from a prominent office window. Ms Le Pen’s far-right National Front (FN) won the European elections in France, as did the United Kingdom Independence Party in Britain. Other Eurosceptic parties did well elsewhere. The results should not have been a shock. Dissatisfaction with the European Union dates back at least to 1992, when French voters registered their petit oui of 51% in a referendum on the Maastricht treaty. Across the EU, public support for the union has fallen from 65% to 50% since.

But the second phase of discontent came in the form of new (or revived) populist parties. Outfits opposed to immigration or euro-zone bail-outs began to flourish in northern Europe around five years ago. (One of them, Timo Soini’s Finns party, entered government in Finland this week.) More recently anti-austerity…

The Economist: Europe

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