Seismic Political Shifts in the West

Nigel Farage, the former UKIP leader and the man credited with the success of Brexit stated recently about Merkel and Obama, the symbols of the current EU and U.S. ruling establishments, that they “simply can’t face up to the fact that their world view has taken an absolute beating in the year of 2016” and that this all “began with Brexit, the first brick out of the wall,” followed by the Trump presidency and many more similar political transformations long in the making, which have yet to take place. Farage states that the “news for Obama and Angela is that there is more of this to come.”

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By Georgiana Constantin l December 12, 2016

seismic-political
Nigel Farage

There are signs of worldwide political and social change. Huge overly powerful governments and their attendant bureaucracies, mass immigration, excessive taxation, social tensions and many other problems of late have been plaguing Western society and people are longing for change.

This year the UK voted in a referendum to leave the European Union. The so-called British exit or “Brexit” proved to be a shock for many Europeans. On the other side of the Atlantic, the election of Donald Trump as the next president of the United States came as just as big of a shock to some. Now, France, Germany and other countries seem to be turning to the right of the political spectrum also.

Important factors and problems which should not be ignored appear to be leading people to reevaluate the type of state in which they want to live. Whether one refers to this occurrence as “the Brexit effect,”political revolution” or simply sincere civil introspection, it undoubtedly seems to be gaining ground in the West. And, it is clear for everyone to see that there is a strong driving force behind this seismic political activity. One can notice that people are no longer so very open to or comfortable with mass immigration, for instance. As well, on the old continent, they are becoming more and more Eurosceptic and focused on their national values, while in the U.S., the ‘America First’ mentality is winning citizens over, once more.

In the face of these undeniable shifts in national politics around the world, some ask themselves what is happening and most importantly, why it is happening. It is perhaps safe to observe that such questions indicate a lack of attention paid to issues currently being dealt with by many, from the U.S. to Europe and beyond.

In Germany, the Alternative für Deutschland, a nationalist, right wing party, recently gained seats in the Berlin parliament for the first time. They take a tough stance on immigration, taxes and the ideas of and membership in the EU. And yet, apparently the AfD managed to beat Angela Merkel’s CDU party, the one currently ruling Germany, into third place, in the Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. Interestingly enough, this is also the chancellor’s constituency, her “home turf.

Although it would be quite the effort for the AfD to reach Germany’s national parliament, so far it has managed to be represented in 9 out of the country’s total 16 state legislatures. This is impressive, especially, because AfD only has about three years of history, and, although there are many who would not want to see it as part of the national parliament, recent history has shown that there is not much one can do to stop a cause resonating so strongly with the people.

France is also witnessing an interesting change in the course of its politics. François Fillon is now the center right (Republican) party’s elected candidate for the French presidency in 2017. This is “despite the polls having relegated him, for the longest time, to third place.” Fillon received 66.6% of the votes, while Alain Juppé only managed 33.5%. Fillon did very well and managed to raise the number of votes from the primary’s first tour where he had around 44.1%.

“France wants the truth and she wants actions,” Le Temps quotes Fillon as saying, while keeping with an, as they put it, “already very presidential” attitude. An admirer of Margaret Thatcher, and one who talks about raising the retirement age and the work week hours as well as “capping jobless benefits at 75 percent of wages before the job was lost, followed by gradual decreases,” he believes in a necessary reform for France, even though many might interpret it as quite a bitter one.

The establishment orders in countries around the world are witnessing an interesting turnaround in social mentalities, driven in part by people being disillusioned with the status quo and also by the lack of choice they have had, so far, in changing it. A recurring, if worrying, theme is that of most media seeming to be completely wrong both in the analysis of these current phenomena and in predictions of future political events. We saw this with President-elect Donald Trump’s victory in the U.S., with Fillon’s win in the primaries in France, with the success of the Brexit referendum and so on. People were shocked with the results because for the most part the press had predicted the exact opposite, and did not hold back in its attempts to belittle the efforts of those who in the end turned out to be victorious.

One has to wonder if the press has actually lost all of its reliable experts or if it is trying to win by employing psychological operations techniques in an attempt to discourage change by convincing people that they stand no chance in their fight against the status quo.

Nigel Farage, the former UKIP leader and the man credited with the success of Brexit stated recently about Merkel and Obama, the symbols of the current EU and U.S. ruling establishments, that they “simply can’t face up to the fact that their world view has taken an absolute beating in the year of 2016” and that this all “began with Brexit, the first brick out of the wall,” followed by the Trump presidency and many more similar political transformations long in the making, which have yet to take place. Farage states that the “news for Obama and Angela is that there is more of this to come.”

No matter on which side of the political spectrum one situates themselves, it would be unwise for them to ignore these seismic shifts in mentality and perspective. Whether they are to continue or simply fade away, these transformations speak of peoples’ troubles, fears, and struggles. They speak of societies which have found that the current views of the world and of politics are failing them and thus forcing them to look in another direction for guidance – to nationalism rather than globalism, a direction which was, perhaps, more familiar to older generations than it is to younger ones.


Georgiana Constantin is a law graduate who has studied International, European and Romanian law at the Romanian-American University in Bucharest and is presently a political science doctoral candidate at the University of Bucharest. Ms. Constantin, who is based in Romania, is also a contributor to SFPPR News & Analysis of the online-conservative-journalism center at the Washington-based Selous Foundation for Public Policy Research.