Trumpists, Brexiteers, Fico: the thousand and one lives of the national-populist wave | International

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In recent days, several important political events have occurred in different Western democracies: the United States, the United Kingdom and Slovakia. Each circumstance has its characteristics, but together they show a pattern with international consequences.

The facts

- The offensive of a handful of radical Republicans this Tuesday achieved the removal of the president of the US House of Representatives, Kevin McCarthy, a member of the same party, plunging the legislature into chaos. Trumpist agitator Steve Bannon was instrumental in the move that has plunged the legislature into chaos, as highlighted The New York Times.

- On Saturday, in Slovakia, legislative elections were held in which the pro-Russian populist Robert Fico emerged as the winner, who was already prime minister until 2018, and has staged a striking political resurrection.

- On Friday, in the United Kingdom, former Prime Minister Liz Truss, who left office a year ago in ignominy after just over a month in office, gave a speech at the Conservative Party conference that made clear that her position He still has weight in the game.

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The meaning

The sequence is a series of indications of the persistent vitality of the heterodox Western national-populist constellation, its multiform capacity for political impact, also after defeats resulting from calamitous efforts. It can be resurrected and returned to power, or it can deeply condition it.

In the United States, Trump lost, but the Republican Party remains hostage, and the legislature consequently suffers from a dysfunction that prevents normal democratic functioning. There's more: this Thursday, in a resounding 180-degree turn, President Biden authorized the construction of a new section of wall on the border with Mexico.

In the UK, Sunak's rise seemed like a turning of the page towards pragmatism. It was, in a sense, in economic policy and relations with the EU, but the Conservative Party which has just closed its annual conference is still plagued by extreme influences in several areas.

Broadly speaking, different phases can be portrayed:

1. In the last decade, ultra approaches advanced spectacularly until achieving successes such as Brexit (2016), Trump (2016), Bolsonaro (2018) or the triumph of the Five Stars and the League in Italy (2018).

2. Later, significant defeats marked a setback, with the fiascos of Trump and Bolsonaro in the re-election attempts, with the fall of the Johnson and Truss governments in the United Kingdom, with the arrival to power of Draghi in Italy and the Macron's revalidation in France.

3. Now, a new turn seems to be gaining momentum: Meloni's victory in Italy a year ago, the unprecedented rise of the AfD in Germany, Orban's overwhelming revalidation, the return of Fico, the ultra relevance in the Nordics. The events of these days support that feeling. We will soon see whether Argentina and Poland, with elections on the horizon, confirm or not this apparent new cycle.

But the fundamental thing is to understand that, win or lose, even after humiliating defeats, the national-populist ranks display a constantly growing influence. They do it through obvious and less obvious ways:

- its direct impact coming to power, whether in command or as minority partners, something that is increasingly widespread.

- its indirect impact on the supposedly moderate right, which increasingly buys its arguments, as evidenced by Sunak's speech at the conference tory in which he said that “a man is a man and a woman is a woman. It is mere common sense”, referring with a very thick brush to very delicate issues. Her Minister of the Interior has a speech that mimics that of the most evolved ultras.

- its impact even on progressive forces. Not only Biden's decision on the wall can be pointed out. The Danish Social Democrats pursue an immigration policy that is indistinguishable from those of the right.

International consequences

The geopolitical consequences are multiple. The developments in the United States and Slovakia are bad news for Ukraine, which sees its chances of receiving aid hampered. Other lines of impact are the green agenda, protectionism, the type of interaction with authoritarian regimes. It is not a linear painting. Meloni's ultras, for example, are firmly Atlanticist and have supported Ukraine without fissures. But, in one way or another, more or less directly, the influence has international repercussions.

Trumpism, Brexiteers and Eastern Europe alert us that serious defeats do not represent a turning of the page. The same exact tide rises again with a change of moon.

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