The leaders of Italy’s two largest right-wing populist parties, Matteo Salvini (L) and Georgia Meloni (File)
Abridged from an opinion piece for the Italian newspaper Domani:
In the Year of Coronavirus, 18 of 26 populist radical right parties declined in polling of voting intention. During the first wave, populist parties in government enjoyed a considerable rise, but in the second wave, they lost ground, especially Fidesz in Hungary and PiS in Poland.
The 8 of 26 parties rising in the polls are all opposition forces. The top performers have been Brothers of Italy (+5.7%), the New Right in Denmark (+5.1%) and the Party for Freedom in the Netherlands (+3.5%).
So did 2020 mark the downturn of right-wing populism in Europe?
No, far from it. Despite the broader negative trend, right-wing populist parties in the European Union still lead the polls in Poland and Hungary, and are first and third in Italy. They are second in France and the Netherlands, and third in Spain and Sweden.
In an increasing number of countries, the political market is distinguished by the presence of multiple successful right-wing populist parties of the PRR. It is a phenomenon that generates complex interactions of cooperation and competition, as the Italian case — Matteo Salvini’s Lega v. Giorgia Meloni’s Brothers of Italy suggests.
The lesson is of a substantial resilience of the populist radical right, even in an unprecedented global crisis. Far from suffering a fatal blow in the pandemic, these parties are here to stay, consolidating their influence in Europe’s political systems.