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The Emerging European Politics
Political Polarization Proceeds in Europe

Europe’s political crack-up continues this week as governments fall and populist parties surge. First, as Open Europe reports:

Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann… announced his shock resignation after losing the support of his Social-Democratic party (SPÖ). He had come under increasing pressure due to the victory of the far-right FPÖ in the first round of the presidential elections in April – a direct result of the migration crisis. In a statement, Faymann, who has been Chancellor since 2008 said, “This country needs a Chancellor who gets full support from his party. The government needs to make a strong new start. Whoever does not have this support cannot accomplish this task.” Faymann’s resignation is unlikely to trigger new elections. Austria’s ruling coalition has a mandate until 2018, and the SPÖ is expected to nominate a new Chancellor in the coming days.

Meanwhile to the north:

A new Insa poll for Bild puts German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s CDU/CSU on 30.5% (-1.5) – its lowest score ever recorded by the polling institute. Her centre-left coalition partners, the SPD, are on 19.5%, giving the current grand coalition government a total of 50% –  17 percentage points lower than when it formed after the last federal elections in 2013. Meanwhile, the right-wing populist AfD is on 15% (+1.5%); the Greens on 13%; hard-left Die Linke on 10%, and the liberal FDP on 8%.

No prizes for guessing which issue is driving these two developments.

And in Club Med, the Spanish far-left is consolidating:

Spain’s anti-austerity Podemos party has joined forces with its smaller leftwing rival, Izquierda Unida, in a move that boosts the prospects for the country’s far left in the forthcoming general election and piles fresh pressure on the centre-left Socialists.

The joint list has potentially important ramifications for the general election next month, not least because it increases the chances that the Socialists (PSOE) will be pushed into third place, depriving the centre-left party of its decades-old status as the leading voice of the Spanish left. Depending on how centrist voters respond to the pact, it could also raise the chances of a left-of-centre majority after June 26.

While in Italy, Beppe Grillo’s populist Five Star movement is surging:

The anti-establishment 5-Star Movement has overtaken Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s Democratic Party (PD) as Italy’s most popular party ahead of crucial local elections next month, according to the latest opinion poll.

The Index Research poll, commissioned by current affairs program Piazza Pulita and broadcast on Monday evening, showed 28.4 percent of Italians would now vote for 5-Star in a national election, compared with 28.0 percent for the PD.

“Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold.” At least not if it keeps performing like it has been in Europe lately.

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