2016-12-09 15:02 欧洲对外关系委员会
原文标题:The Populist-Putin-Trump insurgency against liberal Europe
The new axis between Trump’s America, Putin’s Russia, and Europeanpopulists represents a toxic mix for the liberal order in Europe.
Europe’s liberal order could come crashing down next year. Squeezed fromall directions, it may not be able to withstand the pressure. Within Europe,populists on the left and right are trying to roll back the liberal order. Thisinsurgency is being actively backed by Putin’s Russia, and, now, it seems,Trump’s America. The European Union itself risks being an early casualty.
The coming year will be decisive, as key elections are held in France,The Netherlands, and Germany, in which anti-EU populist parties are expected tomake headway. The French Presidential elections will be the most critical.Marine Le Pen, who has promised to hold a referendum on France’s EU membership,is expected to win the first round but lose the second. Yet the momentum of thepopulist surge favours Front National, and in any case, who can trust the pollsafter Trump’s election? A victory for Le Pen would spell the likely end of theEuropean Union, as it is inconceivable that the EU could survive France’sdeparture.
On 4 December, Italians voted in a referendum against a set ofconstitutional reforms that would make the country’s notoriously unstablepolitical system more stable. Prime Minister Renzi’s resignation may very wellprompt elections in which the anti-establishment, eurosceptic Five StarMovement will make substantial gains if not win altogether. Also, on the sameday, the far-right wing candidate, Norbert Hofer, was defeated in presidentialelections in Austria but still win 46.7 percent of the vote.
The refugee crisis and, before that, the financial crisis have given aboost to populist parties all across Europe, on both the right and the left.Their success is underpinned by a pervasive feeling that liberal elites arereaping the benefits of an open, globalised world while the people are leftbehind and under threat from alien cultures and customs. For the far right, thesolution is renationalising the nation state, closing borders to immigrants,and returning to socially conservative values. For the far left, the answer is tobe found in dismantling the globalised capitalist system. For both, it meansthe undoing of the EU and its liberal ideals.
Within the heart of Europe’s elites, opportunists such as the UK’s BorisJohnson have sensed the possibilities that the populist surge provides. Theyhave taken up their anti-EU cause and adopted post-truth methods to furthertheir own political careers – consequences be damned.
To the East, Russia understands the potential geopolitical boon thatEuropean populists present. Over the past few years Russia has embraced theseparties on both ends of the political spectrum. Putin sees them as ideologicalbedfellows who are useful in furthering Russia’s strategic interests ofweakening and dividing the EU. These parties also tend to promote pro-Russianpositions such as lifting sanctions and ending European support for Ukraine.
The politics of disruption – seen in the Brexit referendum and the Dutchreferendum on Ukraine – has proven particularly powerful in scuttling the Europeanproject. The weakening of European institutions and unity makes it easier forRussia to play European states off each other and ultimately to increaseRussia’s influence over the continent. Even the anti-Russian populist partiesin countries such as Poland and Finland serve Russian interests by pursuing apolitics of disruption in the EU.
Russia is supporting many of these populist parties in various ways,from political backing to giving them a platform on RT and Sputnik, tofinancial support in the case of the loan to Front National. As electionsapproach in France and Germany, it remains to be seen whether Moscow will usethe same cyber tactics to boost populist candidates that were so successfullyused in the United States.
Trump’s victory has demonstrated to European populists that “theunthinkable is thinkable”. Defying polls, markets, and expert prediction, hemanaged to tap into a discontent in the United States, effectively highjack anestablishment party, and win on an anti-establishment ticket.
But for Europe’s populists, Trump’s election provides more thaninspiration and a boost of confidence. It also means the potential for analliance with the superpower. Days after his victory, Trump, who came out insupport of Brexit, held court in his gold-adorned apartment in Trump Tower forNigel Farage. Farage was the first European politician to meet with Trump afterthe elections, and Trump – defying Number 10 – has subsequently backed him tobecome the UK’s ambassador to the US.
Trump’s alliance with European populists may go beyond mere politicalbacking. The Trump Administration’s chief strategist and senior counsellor,Stephen Bannon, has reportedly reached out to Marine Le Pen in France and isplanning to open Brietbart News in France and Germany ahead of their elections– after its UK venture successfully campaigned for Leave during the Brexitcampaign.
Trump’s foreign policy agenda in Europe will also put liberal forces onthe defensive and play into the hands of the populists. His apparent desire tostrike a deal with Russia and willingness to downgrade or even renege onEuropean security guarantees could hollow out NATO. This would fundamentallyundercut the basis for European cooperation and create further disunity asEuropean states scramble to find alternative security arrangements or areforced to reorient themselves.
The new axis between Trump’s America, Putin’s Russia, and Europeanpopulists represents a toxic mix for the liberal order in Europe. If ever therewas a time to come out in defence of that order, it is now.