Speaking at Harvard, former Polish official warns of populist movement
By Kelly Thomas | September 20, 2016, 7:13 EST
CAMBRIDGE – Poland’s former foreign minister, Radek Sikorski, last week cautioned against the rise of the populist movement throughout Europe and the U.S., and warned that this current trend in nationalist candidates could have grave consequences for the West.
Speaking at Harvard’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Sikorski warned audience members from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs that nationalism could spell the end of the current world order.
“We are two events away from the collapse of the West as we know it,” he warned, citing the upcoming U.S. and French presidential elections, and the rise of presidential candidates Donald Trump in America and Marine Le Pen in France.
Le Pen is the leader of the Front National party in France, a populist group whose stance against mass immigration has found a firm base of support in the aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo attacks and, more recently, the terrorist attacks in Paris and Nice.
Recent polls have shown a surge in support for Le Pen, who is outpolling incumbent president Francoise Hollande, 29% to 13%. The controversial candidate who took over FN’s leadership from her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, has sworn that she will withdraw France from the EU if elected.
“Without France, there is no EU,” stated Sikorski, adding that the dissolution of the EU would lead to a re-nationalization of Europe and an end to the world order as it has existed since 1945.
Sikorski, who views the current dissension among the ranks of EU member-states and the rise of Donald Trump’s populist campaign as two sides of the same coin, argued that “nationalist socialism” is returning to Europe and is on the rise in America, a phenomenon he blames on an electorate that has grown “too frivolous,” both in Europe and in the U.S.
“Populism is on the rise because voters are bored,” he averred. “They no longer feel pressed to vote based on interests, so they vote based on feelings and impressions.” This is what caused the Brexit vote last June, he maintained, adding that the political elite in Europe must do a better job of explaining to voters why the EU is a political and economic necessity.