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Trump’s victory a wake-up call/Italy next domino to fall?

November 10, 2016 1:22 PM
By Thomas Cole, International Political Analyst in http://international-political-analysis.blogspot.co.uk/
Originally published by Liberal Democrat European Group

The victory by Donald Trump in the 2016 US presidential elections should not come as a surprise. The perception post-2008 financial crisis amongst many voters, especially working-class voters, is one of "I am doing badly and somebody who does not look like me is doing well". In some cases this is true, despite the fact that western economies are growing. It also shows a failure, like Brexit, of liberal and social parties to address their historic core voters' concerns. The US election result is yet another vote against globalisation and the prevailing socio-economic and political order by a segment of society that has felt alienated and left-behind by mainstream parties for too long.

The same forces that brought about Brexit in the UK have led to Mr Trump's victory and following his conciliatory victory speech, it will remain to be seen whether he indeed honours his electoral pledges of building a wall on the US-Mexico border, of deporting Muslims or of locking up his opponent, Hillary Clinton. From a European point of view, his victory should lead to concerns, not least in the east of the continent, where there is now a genuine fear across the Baltic states that the United States would no longer come to their aid, under NATO's article 5 provision, especially in light of possible US rapprochement with Russia.

The anti-globalisation bandwagon will now roll on to Italy, where it could take Matteo Renzi, the Italian Prime Minister, as its next scalp. He has called a referendum on electoral reform to take place on 4 December. Opinion polls - if these can still be trusted in the wake of wrongly calling the UK 2015 election, Brexit and the US election - suggest he will lose. Mr Renzi has indicated that in such a scenario he would resign as Prime Minister, which could trigger Italian elections, where the populist Five Star Movement stand to make gains. On the same day in Austria, the re-run of the May Presidential election will take place, where the far-right candidate, Norbert Hofer is currently edging ahead.

The US vote has no doubt also strengthened Geert Wilders in the Netherlands and Marine Le Pen in France, going in to the Dutch and French elections next year. Wilders' Freedom Party could well emerge as the largest party in the Dutch Parliament and it is probable that Le Pen will make it in to the French presidential run-off in May.

For liberal internationalists, there can be no real winners out of the US election and it speaks volumes when this result is welcomed by autrocrats such as Vladimir Putin, Reccep Tayyip Erdogan and the Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte or indeed the UK's very own Nigel Farage.

The result, as with Brexit, should serve as a wake-up call to all of us who believe in the power of globalisation as a force for all in a liberal, international order. Globalisation does work but it needs to work for more people, more of the time. If policies are not enacted which allow this to happen then results like the Brexit vote and the Trump victory will become all the more common.