Populist temptation: Can Europe resist? | Quadriga

hello in a very warm welcome to quad Riga coming to you from Berlin I'm Brian Thomas thanks so much for joining us today as we look at Europe's populism and what's behind it this week in Italy voters swept away a reform-minded government that was a key ally for Chancellor Angela Merkel but across the border in Austria they failed in their bid to stop a pro-eu president from taking office well in Austria's election for President the pro-european candidate Alexander van de belem defeated the far-right fpos Norbit hofer by a wide margin in an election result few had expected it was a very different story though in Italy where Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has resigned after losing a referendum on constitutional reform the driving force behind his defeat was the populists five star movement of Pepe Grilli Grillo well in spite of their setback in Austria are Europeans anti-establishment parties unstoppable or can the political mainstream launched a counter-offensive to contain them to talk about that I'm very happy to be joined by the Austrian journalist a vault Cornish he writes for a number of publication including Germany's feet site he says the EU won't be able to easily resist the populace but it will have to live with them and become much more convincing also with us today Alan Posner and anglo-german author regular commentator for the newspaper de Velde he says Europe suffers from modernization fatigue and that explains the vote in Italy and the rise of the populace but it also strengthens centrists like automatical in Germany we also have DW journalist Federico bacio she's from Italy and has been out talking to young voters there she says Renzi lost this most important ally his most important ally in the fight for change young voters but because those young voters gave in to the populace they've now lost the chance to make the country that thanks all of you for being here today Federico let's start off with you are we seeing in Italy right now a new youth revolution a new youth rebellion I think that's a good way of putting it and besides the size of the loss that matter NT had on Sunday I think what was most striking was seeing so many young voters saying no and they have so it's almost seventy percent of young Italians voted no so then you would expect young people to be at the forefront when it comes to promoting reforms and change and I think we were expecting more of a brexit like a scenario here but instead they were definitely in denial so something there went extremely wrong okay what were the two big issues for youth voters was it migration was it the eurozone was it both I think the biggest issue and I mean I would put it this way there has been a revolution in this referendum from young voters but not so much against the content of the referendum the content of the proposal this constitutional reform but more against the current government and I would say actually more against matter NZ and he's his persona okay um so you're saying is wrapped up with a person of Matteo Renzi yes okay that's it um a vault Kearney's what what's your take on it is it all about the person Renzi or is it about the issues the complex issues facing Italy I think it was a very big mistake to combine the result of the referendum with the personal political future of this politician many politicians in the past have made this mistake and he should have learned his lessons but I could imagine that one day he will have his comeback okay after he's doin alright so so you think it also as well it has a lot to do with renze and here a political mistake not so much as personalities as federica things let's let's hear from the people in Italy and what they said about a referendum that saw a large majority about seventy percent say no to calls to change the constitution but i love the fact that the No campaign one sends an important signal people have had enough of budget cuts and enough of the neoliberal policies of Renzi's government and those who came before him we won't and that's great things simply can't continue as they are the Italian people can't take it anymore they wanted change and they got it if the politicians don't understand this will make them understand it ya no te llevo para la vida fina desu so far the government has ruined us like with the pension reforms it's awful and for young people it's a disaster let's hope things get better yeah mo bidding will make them understand as we just heard from that man there they anger there allan poe's are very palpable when you look at italy today and see what's happening there what do you think we have this image of italy as this quarry you state is it anymore well it's never been true all of Italy anyway I mean the South mezzo giorno Sicily has never really been part of that core Europe also since the beginning of austerity you know youth unemployment as such I think explains part of the of the no vote and but one thing is you know this was not I don't think this was a vote against Europe or a vote even against reforms it was a revolt a vote against a political attempt to secure an automatic majority for the party got most votes in in other words to strengthen the position of Rome and I think people don't want that rejected too they objected to that and I think I can understand why you know if we imagine the same thing in Germany so the city who gets thirty percent of the vote so the automatic a fifty percent in the bonus I would we want that my for one would vote no even if mrs. Merkel would say to me yeah but this is the only way we can change our country well if that's the only way then then we won't change it rather than go that way it's not democratic I i think the Italians voted wisely actually okay but if you voted so wise they elected sorry been with a vault here because you were saying it was also you agree with Alan it was kind of a technical problem and he shouldn't have linked the renze should have linked it the referendum to his personality still he misread the public why how did he meet Miss Reed the public he represents well maybe he misunderstood the fears of some people if there is a proper list 'ok head of government then it should be better if the Senate has more power and has more influence and it could be dangerous in the future federica what do you think I think he yeah he made a mistake and when he realized that he would not have the support it was too late and I think that yeah it was it was a huge mistake to link the face of a reform that I think would have would have changed our system for the better there is there is a problem with our system at the moment it's it's so complex and this is something that we all acknowledge in Italy and we're all asking for change young people in the first place and here they voted against to change because of the context and it goes back to the unemployment is definitely a huge problem its own 36 almost thirty seven percent of young people in Italy have no jobs there's a lot of people that are on the verge of poverty it's also topics that we don't discuss enough and I think a lot of people felt a bit you know put aside into this in the public discussion they didn't feel cared for a follow up here federica if people want change so much and the young voters you've been talking to the sixty-eight percent of them voted along with everyone else of youth voters against this referendum why were they not willing to accept a technical change to the way they are governed to make change easier why did they reject that if they want to change but that's where i think the the big controversy is here that's why i think and the big mistake of r and z is was just to put his political career aside like side by side with the outcome of this referendum and put them both at stake and i think people they took the chance of this vote to vote against against him against the government that when they unhappy with may I say something yeah jumping on Susan I think there's been a perversion of the word reform in the last 10 to 20 years in Europe and and elsewhere especially in Europe you reform used to mean empowering people used to mean giving rights to women giving rights to young people extending the voting age downward from 21 to 18 extending you know the way workers can can I can contribute to the well to the management of their factories and so on and so far nowadays roof when people hear reform they automatically think oh it means my pension is going to get cut my wage is going to get cut the unions are never need more say in the matter and in the case of Italy the government is going to be able to fact to sort of factually Dorsch forgiveness I'm gonna market it to to Governor through to the to the bottom and until the rights of regions for instance are gonna be cut it right but this reform aside that is the case quite often isn't it doesn't reform these days mean more austerity avol dust isn't hasn't Allen identified something here that we're reform once met democracy today it means pain yes because um reform is a synonym for austerity program today yeah so people are afraid of this they should have they should have found another word for it use reform for what its originally meant for making things better and then just say what we're doing now is we're not reforming any system we are creating pain because we want further down the line to whatever right and because this word has been so misused I think people are just saying reform oh no no no no reform means forty percent youth unemployment in Greece thirty percent in industry and so on it means you know we and they say no no no and yeah okay one one of the issues that the Italians wanted to see reform on was migration Europeans not taking any of the Italian migrants the migrants in Italy from North Africa and the least in large numbers is this result the mistake of Italy's European Partners of Brussels isn't it something that Europe could have prevented by helping Italy more with the migration crisis evolved I'm sure that the Brussels faded in solving his problem they even were not able to to make this distribution of the refugees in the different european countries but it's also a failure of germany because in September last year when hundred thousands of refugees who were welcomed more or less the federal chancellor MacKay did not consult even the most important partners in the European Union did just she just let him come in without without a telephone call with Paris or with the Eastern European countries and therefore they do not see why should they participate in this distribution program and they are against it this is to reside so it was a mistake and effective from Brussels and it was not the best way of handling the problem in in Berlin that every case I saw you shaking your head do you agree with that no I agree with the fact that it was definitely an issue and he contributed to the result we saw on Sunday and it also contributed and I was not just recently was in the past three years to another because we've been talking a lot about the five star movement but there's also another political force in Italy which is the nozzle link and they were basically at zero look I'm that jump in and for our viewers remind them who the Northern League is there a far-right organization all right all right group okay sorry ok continue please thank which was basically yeah basically they are basically dead up to a couple of years ago and has now reached again almost fifteen percent and they mean their traditional argument the traditional message has always been this controversial division between the North and the South the independence the other of the Lombardy region but now they really picked up on this topic of migration and that's what made them strong again and they really have very strong and i would say disruptive message they're pulling fifteen percent nationally right now fifteen percent a bit less but like where they went from from three percent i think it was two years ago to almost like thirteen fourteen percent now with with a new leader mattel salvini who's he's got his own way of communicating and it's it's effective and it's something i see because I come from one of the city's it's a bit of a stronghold of the Northern League in in northern Italy near Milan and and i can see that i can see how many people are are joining in I can see people I know and you know side by side with Mattel salvini and are we going to see new elections next year in 2017 or do we have to wait for scheduled elections in 2018 in Italy I don't think so as much as the five star movement and the Northern League are really pushing for snap elections because of course now they're at the peak and so it makes sense for them but I really don't think we're gonna see elections in as early as februari or January next year as they're suggesting the President of the Republic surge materialized completely against it we don't have an electoral law in place at the moment and it's been a lab exam inated by the Constitutional Court so until end of January we won't have an electoral law so with there's no there is no context right now for four sad elections so um it might be that we're gonna see the next elections actually in 2018 okay when they were we originally planned that's um but beppi Grillo would like to see them earlier oh um Alan when you look at Pepe Grillo or does that worry you to see a man of the people former comedian entertainer shoot to the top galvanized the public is this a cause for concern in Italy and elsewhere not because he's a man of the people not because he's a former entertain and Vernon Reagan was a great president and he was a an actor you know I mean this is why shouldn't I mean William Shakespeare was an actor why shouldn't an actor be a great a great politician the problem about five star movement is what they're saying they want to take it to the out of the euro for instance which would lead to the collapse of the common currency now you can welcome that but I don't I think it would lead to incredible economic disruption and especially in italy by the way but so these are the things you worry about not worried that he's a that the pepper grill is a comedian I'm fine by me i like someone my best friends are comedians you know I've been you know you have to worry about a party that honestly thinks that Italy can win by using by reintroducing the lira it's not gonna it you know it's not gonna happen okay well let's find out what what look young choi blur has to say about that it's not just the migration we've been talking about the German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble has also been playing down the vote in Italy he doesn't seem too concerned about it let's hear what he had to say Italian boat Italy urgently needs a government that can function effectively I hope that they will continue the perform program despite the fact that the Italian people did not accept these constitutional reforms if I fastens the forms only active yet nine Bob there is no reason to start talking about a euro crisis and there's absolutely no reason for anyone to start predicting one okay we're back here with our guests a vault what do you think will Italy return to the lira does it want to what are the people there want do they want to stay with the euro were a return to the old cards I cannot believe that they will return to the lira they must ask themselves in what position would european union B and the eurozone be without the European Union would it be better would it be different would it be other so I think this is the target of populists but in fact they don't want to to come back to the early era I cannot imagine okay federica I'm sure what's your sense from from talking to people i want to say with that your i think people want much more concrete things at the moment they want better work conditions they want unemployment's to rate the good to go down and that's what they want that's what they're talking about that's what they're frustrated about and the lira debate it's pointed out by Fife you but it's not at the top of people's heads in the moment okay um the populace we just saw there that we've been talking about rather across Europe not only in Italy are sensing victory at right now at this moment they have the win in Italy they have some major gains elsewhere they have been out of course rallying their bases stirring up emotions that are already peaking right now as we've seen with the five star movement it is a debate though that requires instead of emotion some very tough debate and hard decisions let's since we've been talking about Italy so far look at what some of your populist leaders have been saying we begin with Pepe Grillo we have to take our scepter and smack them in the face with it our no vote is not political it is the vote of every individual it is an existential no and a social no bit differently chi minh we must not feel ashamed when we say we are proud to be austrian it's the EU is making a mess of virtually everything first we have the eurozone then we have the e use common asylum policy compounded hugely by Angela Merkel this is our nation this is our state this is our country and we will take this country back bit by bit well the type of rhetoric we just saw their failed to convince Austrian voters in election over the weekend to put Norbert hofer in office the far-right leader of the fpo why did they fail to connect in Austria the populace in the way they did in Italy as an Austrian what do you think well they failed it disco critter election but nearly half of the voters voted for him and since mr. Hofer is not the federal president he might be one of the next federal Chancellor because the FBO which is a far right but not right extreme not extremists party but right-wing populist party so he could be the next head of government so they did not fail so much maybe it was a it was an advantage for them not to have the position of the federal president but the more important position of the federal chancellor in the future might be okay so the far-right has lost this skirmish but the battle continues so to speak definitely um allen d do you see the the far-right being strengthened going out of this election result in austria yeah I mean no of their blood strengthened by the the result that they mean they lost the election okay but I agree totally with whatever I said they could they're coming back because you heard from all these clips what they're saying there's two elements here the one is democracy they they feel the people feel to vote them feel disenfranchised and they say the reason the way we get back our vote is by taking control of our country and they have a point because historically the nation-state and democracy have gone hand-in-hand and we still don't have institutions which work on a European level to give people the idea they're controlling their destiny the euro for one is totally abstract the decisions made there by mr. Draghi or whoever that are controlled nowhere so that I can one can understand this idea we'll take back our country it won't work because the world is different but maybe they'll just have to experience that the world is different but what hasn't changes the need for a debate in Austria people their government institutions their decided to bring the far right into the fold to debate them to talk to them to include them in the discourse something that's not happening here in Germany right now is there something a lesson that Austria can give to Germany in terms of how to deal with the far right I think it's a mistake to copy them it's a mistake to isolate them also it has many experiences have a generation they go in the year of 2000 when the offer p so the Conservative Party had a coalition with this FP who because otherwise the so-called grand coalition which we had for decades would be weaker and weaker and FB here as a opposition party more and more powerful so it was it was necessary to make it and to show if they are able to make political strategy so when the EU had the so-called sanctions against Austria it was very bad it still is a damaged in the image of ego in the Austrians in the Austrian electric what do you think how should the far right we pulled in here in Germany into the debate into the debate they already armed and that they're defining a debate look at the last CDU party conference where they decided on a ban of the burka that was a old that was that's been demanded by the official but the individuals are not included in the debate they're not welcome well it's a matter of time I mean they won't they won't they will get what twenty percent next selection in the bundestag they will be in your Bundestag and if they're still around in four years the city will have a coalition with them and it won't be the end of the world ok let's look towards the future what's gonna happen come spring there's elections in France and the Netherlands and September here in Germany federica are people worried in Italy right now about what's gonna happen in terms of populist gains in places like France and Holland yes I mean I think it's they look inward and I mean the fact that it was quite a funny coincidence that the referendum and the Austrian election happened on the same day and I think a lot of people in Italy were like relieved in nothing when when they saw that when they saw the result in Austria so yes versity I think many Austrians were quite happy that Ranger had to resign because the yester if that's interesting thing isn't it that we the thing is in Europe we are really interested in interior politics of other countries we were really worried and this is something the populace are not gonna be able to roll back the fact that Austria not only us with Italy Greece interests us here in Germany in a way which it never would have done 10 20 years ago I think that's really that's the populace aren't gonna be able to do away with that and people know how to hurt the so-called elite when they are always told don't vote for far right and so Anya so they know how can demonstrate and protest and hurt of course they vote for for these parties okay well we have some more votes coming up we're gonna be seeing how that's gonna be going a lot to talk about like to thank our guests for being with us today tiger federica baggio from italy DW correspondent thanks so much for being with us evolve Turnage from d site and other newspapers free journalists here working in berlin and of course Allen Posner's ever thank you so much for your comments and thank you for being with us here today on quad Riga we look forward to your visit the next time around until then goodbye you


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