Europe’s insurgent parties overturning consensus on Atlanticism, liberal democracy


The British vote on EU membership could be an early sign of a European political tsunami, as upstart “insurgent” political parties across the continent use referendums as their weapon of choice to challenge the traditional political elites, according to new research by the European Council on Foreign Relations:

ECFR carried out the first comprehensive survey of Europe’s insurgent parties – newer, smaller and leaner parties, ranging from the hard left to the far right. It found that, despite their differences, they share a surprising range of beliefs on foreign policy. They are broadly sceptical about the EU; oppose intervention abroad, particularly in the Middle East; are unenthusiastic about the relationship with Washington; and positively inclined towards Putin’s Russia…..The report argues that the growing pressure for popular referendums could hamstring key European decision-making bodies. For instance, the upcoming European Council decision on whether to extend EU sanctions against Russia, and the question of a free trade agreement with Ukraine, could be complicated by the Dutch vote in May to reject closer ties between the EU and Ukraine.

It concludes that foreign policy is no longer an elite game. 

““Many of these insurgent parties have views on foreign policy that are closer to President Putin than President Obama.  They are overturning an elite foreign policy consensus based on Atlanticism and liberal democracy that has dominated for the last fifty years,” said Mark Leonard, Director of the European Council on Foreign Relations. “We can’t dismiss them as fringe parties – they represent a revolution in European foreign policy.  Their chosen weapon is using referenda to whip up popular support on their pet issues.  Even where they don’t win power directly, they are so politically powerful that they are forcing mainstream parties to adopt their positions.” RTWT

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