Thanks Jacob. So is it safe to safe that the rise of Emmanuel Macron was due to the centrist nature of his policies and that the established parties were more extreme at their core? He was more outsider than populist and this is a very important distinction.
Populism has always been a feature of European politics - in earlier decades during the Cold War communist parties habitually received 30% of the vote in say France and Italy on a set of policies that would have been just as discriminatory and illusory as today's populists. This is nothing new and the fact that such a party AfD can now get 10-15% percent of the vote in Germany is IMHO actually a positive, as it shows that Germany is increasingly a politically normal European country moving out from under its obvious "burden of history"... in which Western country could you take in 1mn+ middle eastern immigrants and such a party receive ONLY 10-15%? European countries' parliamentary systems however are relatively adept at managing these types of parties - election systems ensure that coalition governments are required, enabling other parties to "steal parts of their political platforms" (e.g. tighten immigration, which will also happen in Germany), while denying them political leadership of governments. Contrast that with the UK/US, where entrenched two-party systems enabled fringes of one of the large parties (Brexit in the Tory Party and Trump in the GOP) to take full political control of the national political narrative, despite only commanding a minority of MPs in the UK and obviously a less than 50% share of the popular vote in the US. Political history and the electoral institutions that history created matters, which is why the risk of populist takeovers in Europe today are materially smaller than in virtually all other regions of the world - except perhaps Japan.
@jfkirkegaard , love your thoughts on this
I do disagree to some extent. Political divergences in France are common place and Mr. Macron's powerful Parliamentary position should ensure that he can pursue reforms that will be unpopular among both extreme left and right but a net positive for longer term economic prosperity. Italy's history of fragmented government is hardly new and I believe that both Berlusconi and the Northern League backing away from direct threats to leave the Euro is a response to Marine Le Pen's failed strategy during the French election. As for Germany, Mrs. Merkel was 15% behind in the polls when global populism was at its peak around the inauguration of President Trump. His missteps are, in my opinion, directly responsible for the demise in popularity of many nationalistic moments across Europe. I would take the opposite approach that despite a surprise result for the AFD in Germany, populism as an organized force has had numerous set backs and is less powerful than it was a year ago. Despite taking seats in the Bundestag, it remains a noisy fringe party with little policy clout.