A Bad Year for Conservatives in Europe

By Alexander Lawless| UK

2017, a year where the eyes of the world have been focused on politics more than ever, has had its fair share of unpredictable events. From the election of Donald Trump in the US to various missile tests in North Korea to a highly suspenseful election in France, there seemed to be a new life-changing political event occurring every day. However, 2016 and 2017 are also unique to other years in the aspect that American news media have spent an unusually large amount of time focusing on the political happenings of Europe. This is not arbitrary, however, European politics in 2017 have certainly been something to watch out for.

Arguably beginning the largely unexpected result to “Brexit”, a referendum held last year to decide whether or not the United Kingdom should withdraw from the European Union, many people of the United States began to seek more news from Europe as it now seemed to be not only more interesting, but promised to play a large role in not only the future of the planet, but the future of America as well. After Brexit came the Dutch election, where far-right candidate Geert Wilders came relatively close to winning, which would have been a large boost to conservative momentum worldwide so soon after the 2016 US election.

A few months later came the highly anticipated and awaited French Presidential elections. A rather right-wing candidate, Marine Le Pen, similar to Donald Trump in many social stances such as immigration, faced off against a more centrist-left-wing candidate, Emmanuel Macron as well as a field of three other relatively formidable candidates. If Le Pen won, this also would have been viewed as another large boost towards a more conservative world. All eyes were on this election, and even more were attracted as candidates from normally small parties, Le Pen and Macron were the two candidates that advanced to the second round of voting. However, Macron won by a substantial margin, and the European left seemed to be gaining more and more traction, especially later on in the UK elections.

The Labour party, led by Jeremy Corbyn, seemed to have an unusually large amount of support for his party. He led the coalition of Labour candidates against the Conservatives, led by Prime Minister Theresa May. What was originally projected to be a large win in favor of the Conservatives, soon gave extremely shocking results in that no party had a majority of Parliament. The UK had a liberal uprising that day, and it surprised the world.

Following the trend of liberal growth in Europe, the world’s eyes were turned back to France once again a few weeks later as they held their elections for Parliament. Newly elected President Emmanuel Macron’s party again succeeded in drowning out any lasting hopes of Conservative “revolution” by picking up an impressive 350 seats in a Parliament with 577. The number of seats possessed by the Front Nationale, right-wing Presidential candidate Marine Le Pen’s party, practically remained the same as it was before. Her relative success in the Presidential election proved to have no real Conservative impact on the political climate of France.

In summary, 2017 has been a good year for conservatives in America, but a bad year for conservatives overseas. The election of President Donald Trump seems to have set an example that many European countries want to stay as far away from as possible. Will this trend of liberalization continue? Will the Europe continue to drift in the ideological opposite direction as the United States? It’s tough to predict right now what the future will bring, but all of this political confusion certainly makes for good television, so you likely won’t stop hearing about it anytime soon.


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