More or less all observers would agree that 2016 was a tough year, if not an annus horibilis for European integration, with the first case in its history of a member state deciding to leave the EU on the basis of a referendum and eurosceptical parties obtaining unknown support in member states such as Germany and Austria. Many journalists and academic analysts create a link between the faltering public support for European integration and an allegedly rising phenomenon in democratic politics: populism. As soon as protest movements defying the rules of the political game arise, as soon as political parties fiercely oppose European integration and its constraints, as soon as charismatic leader figures appeal to the feelings of the people, they are labelled as populists. Whereas political movements as diverse as French “Front national”, German “Alternative für Deutschland”, Greek “Syriza”, Spanish “Podemos”, Italian “Cinque stelle” and Polish “PiS” serve as European examples for the rise of populism, it is Donald Trump who allegedly embodies on the other side of the Atlantic the essence of populism.
Policy Paper n° 47