Europe’s voters are getting angry. Leaders should listen to them instead of sneering – Telegraph.co.uk

8 months ago Comments Off on Europe’s voters are getting angry. Leaders should listen to them instead of sneering – Telegraph.co.uk

 And increasingly, the new populists see the European Union as the centre of this malign orthodoxy, and call for looser ties with it. The free movement of goods and services is not a goal toasted across the continent. To Pawel Kukiz, a former punk musician now leading the Kukiz’15 party in Poland, it means that “German business has replaced German tanks.”

The EU is almost as vehement in its response: the way to treat such upstart parties is to insult or ignore them, denounce them as barbarians at the gate of civilisation.

So the very idea of responding to the very similar concerns raised, from Sicily to Stockholm, is seen as appalling appeasement. Such intransigence is, of course, a recipe for making the problem worse still.

The way to thwart such insurgents is to respond to the legitimate concerns of their voters. This is the British way. David Cameron did start by insulting Ukip (“fruitcakes, loonies and closet racists”) but ended by pledging to limit welfare for immigrants and hold a referendum on EU membership. This may have dismayed Brussels, but the European establishment might note that he is about the only leader in Europe to have emerged stronger from a general election. British parliamentary democracy, for all of its quirks, has proved incredibly resilient. The last general election quietly buried the genuinely racist British National Party, whose vote fell by 99.7 per cent.

    A spectre is once again haunting Europe, but it’s not that of populism. It’s the intransigence of established political parties who prefer to denounce populists rather than seek to understand what motivates their supporters. And the EU, which set out in hope of uniting the continent, has become a source of instability – sticking to an outdated script at a time of unprecedented demographic and economic change. If Europe’s populists do go on to scale greater heights they will have Brussels, and its obstinacy, to thank.

Europe’s voters are getting angry. Leaders should listen to them instead of sneering – Telegraph.co.uk