Almost every day, new stories emerge about some populist right-wing politician doing something outrageous. Whether it is another racist Trump-tweet, some right-wing party seeking Russian funding, or hate-speech against immigrants. What once used to terminate a political career has become distinguished etiquette for the populist far-right. Media, civil society, and politicians seem helpless in finding an adequate response. None of these scandals seem to threaten the political success of the far-right. How can this development be explained?
Shortly before taking off to Japan for the G20 summit in late June, Russian President Vladimir Putin took the time for an extensive interview with the Financial Times. He was asked about current international hot topics such as the Middle East, North Korea, trade relations, and Venezuela as well as Russian domestic challenges. Putin seized the opportunity to comment on the state of Western democracies and proclaimed the end of the liberal idea. While music to the ears of European populists, his words resonate as cynicism, maybe even a threat, with those who believe in freedom and democracy.
The newly formed Identity and Democracy (ID) group will draw more attention in the European Parliament (EP). However, internal divisions rooted in different national contexts pose a serious challenge for the group’s coherence and effectiveness. Its member parties will have to live up to the expectations which they created in their home countries through populist rhetoric. The size of the group composed of 9 right-wing parties with 73 Members of the European Parliament (MEP) could be an obstacle to satisfying voters’ expectations while making use of its full potential.