In a raucous live television debate on whether the UK should stay in the EU, the far right UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage absolutely stomped on the Liberal Democrat Nick Clegg. Watch the carnage:The immediate polls after the broadcast went overwhelmingly for Farage, showing him winning by a two-to-one margin. Coming on the heels of a strong showing by France’s National Front, we’re starting to see just how well these ideas and sentiments are faring all across Europe.This kind of resentment among the voting public perhaps shouldn’t be too surprising. Voters are fed up with how the EU elite has handled things, turning a collective deaf ear to growing fears over immigration and ramming through unpopular austerity measures that would not likely pass if they were decided in national parliaments.But however unsympathetic the feckless Nick Clegg and his like can appear, one shouldn’t forget exactly where the fringe parties are coming from. Almost all of the parties—Hungary’s Jobbik, France’s National Front, and even Farage himself—have praised Vladimir Putin’s actions in Crimea. Now it may be that the Kremlin is outright paying their bills, as Mitchell Orenstein has argued in Foreign Affairs, or it may be just that these parties see an enemy of their hated EU as a useful ally. But whatever the cause, they are fanning the flames of the same toxic ideology—irredentism—that has repeatedly led to wars and destruction on the European continent.It’s an ugly, if predictable, situation Europe is increasingly finding itself in. If the pro-EU establishment doesn’t find a more convincing response than what Nick Clegg served up, we might be headed for some dark days indeed.
Facing Europe's Far RightAnti-EU and Pro-Putin, Farage Destroys Clegg in UK Debate