Boris Johnson Ben Pruchnie/Getty Images

De opkomst van de populistische democratie in Europa

LONDEN – De schok van de Britse keuze om de Europese Unie vaarwel te zeggen moet nog inzinken. Toch moeten de Europese leiders zich wapenen voor wat komen gaat. De Brexit kan de initiële trilling zijn die de komende jaren een tsunami van referenda in Europa teweegbrengt.

In heel Europa zijn 47 rebelse partijen de politiek op z'n kop aan het zetten. Zij veroveren de controle over de politieke agenda en zetten die naar hun hand – en verkrijgen al doende macht. In een derde van de lidstaten van de Europese Unie maken zulke partijen deel uit van coalitieregeringen, en hun successen hebben mainstream-partijen ertoe gebracht een aantal van hun standpunten over te nemen.

Hoewel deze partijen zeer verschillende wortels hebben, hebben ze allemaal iets gemeen: ze proberen de consensus over het buitenlands beleid te wijzigen die Europa diverse decennia heeft gekenmerkt. Zij zijn eurosceptisch; ze zijn afkerig van de NAVO; ze willen hun grenzen sluiten en de vrijhandel een halt toeroepen. Ze veranderen het gezicht van de politiek en vervangen de traditionele strijd tussen links en rechts door hun eigen boze geborneerdheid tegenover het kosmopolitische van de elites die ze verachten.

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