German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned that “dark forces are finding mainstream support” in Germany and across the world. She also claimed that the world will have to face up “to specters of the past,” a seeming reference to the Nazi Party.
Conditions are getting bad enough in Germany that a top government official recently warned Jewish people not to wear kippahs (a distinctly Jewish hat) in public. Attacks against Jewish people have been on the rise. Germany has also directed its police force to protect synagogues, Jewish schools, daycare centers, and other facilities.
During the recent European elections, many feared that the region’s “alt-right” populist parties would sweep into power. Many of these parties are anti-immigrant and even anti-EU. Turnout across Europe was higher than has been seen in decades and many youths showed up at the ballot for the first time, but the alt-right wave never materialized.
Instead, the Green and liberal parties gained ground across much of the continent. Still, alt-right parties produced strong showings in Hungary and Italy. Marine Le Pen’s National Rally also narrowly topped polls in France, garnering 23.3 percent of the vote. In the UK, the staunchly pro-Brexit party secured 31.7 percent of the vote while support for Conservatives tallied just 8.7 percent.
The poll results suggest that Europe, much like the United States, is becoming politically polarized. Centrist parties and candidates have struggled in recent years while both far-left and far-right political parties and politicians have gained momentum. In Europe, this could produce a more contentious political process, but given that many centrist parties lean left, coalition-building may be possible.