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Matteo Salvini, the Italian deputy prime minister, right, gestures during a news conference with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, Milan, Italy, Aug. 28, 2018 (AP photo by Luca Bruno).

Populists Have Their Sights on the European Parliament, Despite Their Own Divisions

Friday, May 17, 2019

Could next week’s European Parliament elections lead to a grand realignment of the continent’s politics, with the populist right wielding unprecedented influence? Hungary’s pugnacious and controversial prime minister, Viktor Orban, certainly hopes so. Poland’s de facto leader, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the head of the ruling, arch-conservative Law and Justice party, PiS, is also eyeing the leadership of an invigorated right. So too Italy’s deputy prime minister, Matteo Salvini, the figurehead for a potential new bloc of hard-right populist parties and governments opposed to immigration and aiming to reconstitute European politics.

But even if they all do as well as predicted next week, with far-right, populist and other euroskeptic parties projected to win around a quarter to a third of the seats in the European Parliament, the question remains: Can the disparate forces of Europe’s populist right coalesce into a coherent whole and put their plans into action? ...

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