Political establishments in Washington and Europe are in shock over Donald Trump’s US presidential win. And it’s far from over. Europe is bracing itself as elections loom in several member states.
Germany and France could be next big shocks. If their pro-EU governments should fall, then the European bloc as we know it is over.
The era of popular revolt is upon us. Disaffected and defiant, the mass of citizens are fed up with unresponsive, unrepresentative governments, on both sides of the Atlantic, that seem to only serve an unelected oligarchy.
First we had the Brexit vote to leave the European Union earlier this year. Now, we have the election of the “anti-politician”business tycoon Donald Trump who becomes the 45th president of the US with no prior experience of elected office.
Britain’s Daily Express called his election this week a “Trump Tsunami” – a monumental wave now heading across the Atlantic to the shores of Europe. “EU braces for ‘revolution’ amid Austria, Italy, France and German elections,” reports the Express.
Trump’s stunning victory – which overturned all mainstream media predictions – was greeted with jubilation by populist parties across Europe. Nigel Farage, who led the Brexit campaign for the United Kingdom Independence Party, said he was gratefully “passing on the mantle” to Trump.
There were similar ecstatic congratulations from France’s National Front leader Marine Le Pen, and from a raft of other populist leaders in the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Austria, Hungary and Slovakia. Le Pen hailed Trump’s victory as proof that “anything is possible for the people”. While Hungary’s premier Viktor Orban called it a “great day for democracy”.
The glee among populist parties was in sharp contrast to the sombre response from the two incumbent governments that might be viewed as the pillars of the European Union – Germany and France.
Trump’s breakthrough election came as a complete shock to Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Francois Hollande.
France’s ambassador the United Nations Gerard Araud expressed it most succinctly when the tweeted on news of the result: “A world is collapsing before our eyes.” The diplomat quickly deleted the post, probably realizing he would later reap recriminations. But the sense of trepidation in his brief words was palpable.