The Old Continent Creaks: Austerity and the failures of the technocratic elite have created the current populist backlash. France’s experience is instructive—and, possibly, ominous::
What’s the matter with Europe? Wherever one looks these days, there are signs of deep trouble. Economic growth has stagnated. Deflation threatens. Unemployment is rampant in many member states of the European Union. Support for the former mainstream parties of the center-right and center-left is waning. Populist parties of the far right and far left are on the rise. Anti-Islamic movements such as PEGIDA in Germany have attracted worrisome support, while in France the xenophobic National Front has topped all other parties in recent polls. Terrorist attacks by native-born citizens in Paris and Copenhagen have raised fears that the social fabric has irreparably deteriorated—fears compounded by the flight of several thousand young Europeans to join the Islamic State in Syria. And to top it all off, Ukraine has been racked by civil war and threatened with disintegration since Russian-backed separatists rejected the rule of the government in Kiev.