National Populism and the European Parliament Elections
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National Populism and the European Parliament Elections
23 May @ 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm
In recent times, national populism has been on the march in much of the Western world. 2016 was a year of political earthquakes, with the UK voting to leave the European Union and Donald Trump being elected as the 45th President of the United States. In 2017, the National Front’s Marine Le Pen won over one-third of the vote in the final run-off of the French Presidential Election. This was followed by the Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) establishing itself as the largest opposition party in the German Federal Parliament, and the formation of coalition governments in Austria and Italy involving right-wing populist political parties.
The Henry Jackson Society is delighted to invite you to an important and timely discussion on the social, political, cultural and economic drivers of national populism, and the impact these factors may have on the upcoming European Parliament Elections.
Professor Matthew Goodwin is a Professor of Politics at the University of Kent. Matthew holds a B.A. (First Class Hons), M.A. and PhD. He started his academic career working for a self-funded research institute at the University of Manchester. He was then awarded a Postdoctoral Fellowship with the Economic and Social Research Council. In 2010, he was appointed lecturer at the University of Nottingham, where he completed projects funded by the Leverhulme Trust, Nuffield Foundation, British Academy and others. He was also the recipient of an ESRC Knowledge Exchange Fellowship and spent twelve months on a full-time secondment in a central government department. In 2015 he was appointed Professor of Politics at the University of Kent.
Dr. Rakib Ehsan is a Research Fellow in the Centre on Radicalisation & Terrorism. Rakib specialises in the socio-political behaviour and attitudes of British ethnic minorities, with a particular focus on the UK’s Bangladeshi and Pakistani ethnic groups. He holds a BA Politics & International Relations (First-Class Honours), MSc Democracy, Politics & Governance (Pass with Distinction), and a PhD in Political Science, all from Royal Holloway, University of London.
On 23rd May, the Henry Jackson Society hosted the event “National Populism and European Parliament Elections” with Professor Matthew Goodwin, chaired by Dr Rakib Ehsan. Professor Goodwin discussed the book “National Populism: The Revolt Against Democracy”, which he co-authored with Professor Roger Eatwell.
Professor Goodwin discussed the forecasts for the European Parliament elections. He predicted very good results for the Brexit Party and the lowest ever combined share of the votes for the two mainstream parties. He then underlined that the results would be played down by the mainstream parties but that it would still have a great deal of significance. “The longer the Brexit Party remains a significant political force, the higher the probability that Jeremy Corbyn is the next Prime Minister of this country, and Britain will have the most economically left wing government that it has ever seen”, he said.
He also claimed that the results were going to remind us of some of the deeper winds that are sweeping over the continent, with a very strong performance by Eurosceptic populist parties. They would not have a majority, but a much more disruptive and politically significant movement. He reminded the audience that this happens at a time when the European Parliament is given more power over policy and legislation, making the fact that all these outsiders are going to do much better highly significant.
Professor Goodwin summarised the situation to two words: fragmentation and polarisation. He underlined that, for the first time in the story of the European Union, it was likely that the two mainstream blocks in the centre-left and the centre-right, the European People’s Party and the Socialists and Democrats would form beneath fifty percent of all seats in the European Parliament.
He highlighted the voters’ priorities shift over the last decade from the economy and public services to the immigration and terrorism. He then forecast that the new axis that is going to dominate the politics for the next five to ten years is going to be the identity-cultural axis, with a growing political debate over the capacity of the EU to strengthen and maintain external and perhaps internal borders to protect national traditions, national ways of life and national cultures. According to Professor Goodwin, mainstream ideologies will continue to be under pressure, with new parties coming and going very quickly, and changing the political agenda.
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