Global Affairs

The fury behind Europe's populist tsunami

The populist backlash is not just a far-right phenomenon. Old established political parties are being buffeted by both the far left and far right amid a failure to address deep economic and social grievances.

Spain has decided to hold fresh general election in April, a full year earlier than required by the country's Constitution. So far, hardly remarkable; early national ballots - either because a sitting government has lost its majority or because a sitting government is hoping to get a bigger majority - are the bread and butter of politics.

But far from being dismissed as just a routine exercise, Spain's decision to go for early ballots was met with alarm. For the fear is that Spain's election will result in the rise of yet another anti-establishment party in Europe, thereby consolidating the apparently unstoppable seizure of the continent by populist forces determined to tear up Europe's established political order, halt free trade and reverse decades of social and political integration.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 18, 2019, with the headline 'The fury behind Europe's populist tsunami'. Subscribe