New Politics: Lies, Cries and Populism

Octavia Bromell /
Dec 6, 2016 / Opinion

Brace yourselves, there’s a newsflash coming: Brexit was a controversial vote.

Who’d have thought that choosing to leave something that has given us economic guidelines – for better or worse – for the past 43 years would cause instability?

The bedlam that’s been unleashed since the June 23rd referendum has been quite unnerving. The pound hit its lowest value in 31 years, Tesco had a dramatic standoff with Marmite, and now they’re even talking about it affecting the holy grail of frugal lunches. Yes, friends, the £3 meal deal is under threat.

However, the trumpets are still blaring the sound of triumph up the arses of some of Europe’s finest, as what is fondly becoming known as the ‘alt-right’ (read: far-right) seem to be gearing up for a continental takeover.

Geert Wilders in the Netherlands, Frauke Petry in Germany, and France’s Marine le Pen are all gearing up for their respective country’s upcoming elections, and are all running under a solidly anti-EU, anti-immigration banner. Could we be facing Brexit, Frexit, Germexit, and, my personal favourite: Netherlexit?

The unwitting British electorate can’t take all the credit for this trendy new vibe that could cover just about every once-liberal hub in Europe. There’s a very orange man with very tiny hands that’s about to become leader of the free world who’s stirred up his fair share of shit. I’ll give you a clue – starts with a T, ends with rump.

Unfortunately for, well, everyone, despite an incredible amount of ongoing backlash against both Trump and the Brexit vote, fundamentally the issues that caused people to lose faith in the current state of play are just as prominent now as they were at the start of the year. The incentive is still there for those in the right mindset to vote for people that run on the premise of economic stability or reduced immigration – after all, if Trump can do it, why not.

With a recent study showing that over half of the articles shared in the run up to the referendum vote were false, it’s no real surprise that the alt-right agenda penetrating European politics hasn’t struggled to gain a foothold. Scare tactics and (everyone’s favourite buzzword) post-truth both litter the political atmosphere, leaving the front door wide open for racially fueled parties like the National Front to swoop in and steal our meal deals.

The total uncertainty that’s driving people to these parties that promise to fix everything, normally at the expense of other cultural denominations, is only further endorsed by any form of poll. Opinion polls have both ruled the roost and failed us all this year, with people interpreting them in whatever way suits their opinions. They’ve predicted false wins and losses all over the shop, with the latest victim being the Italian vote posed by Prime Minister Matteo Renzi.

In the referendum held last weekend, 60% of Italian voters shot down Renzi’s proposal, which included plans to clean up and slim down the country’s notoriously pricey government. The cherry on top of all this ludicrous cake is that the vote against political reform in Italy, and centrist Renzi’s subsequent departure, may be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. With shares in the Italian banking system tumbling, it is possible that Italy won’t be able to stay in the Euro as the public have lost patience with Brussels-imposed austerity measures.

The small glimmer of hope left in Europe’s corner however is Austria. Despite the first result last May being annulled due to supposed vote tampering, they have just elected former Green Party leader Alexander Van Der Bellen to be their next president. But you can’t really blame them for bucking the trend on this one, it’s pretty hard to forget what happened the last time someone with extreme views took over the country.

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Words by Octavia Bromell

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