Should the rest of the world follow suit? – Executive Digest

In November 2023, Geert Wilders' anti-immigration and anti-Muslim party won a Dutch election in what was considered a political earthquake. The scale of his victory shocked the center and left parties in the Netherlands, and together they decided that “the most dangerous man in Europe” could never become prime minister.

According to the website 'The Conversation', the Dutch are not alone in seeking an institutional solution to far-right populism: across the EU, politicians are setting up a “Garden Sanitaire” against extremism – a tactical red line to keep distance. Right-wing parties do not enter government coalitions.

This is not a new movement: in the late 1980s, Belgian parties signed an agreement to exclude the far-right party Vlaams Blok from government. The result lasted 30 years and evolved from a written treaty to an unwritten convention, a strategy being tested in other countries.

In June's EU parliamentary elections, the centre-left groups of MEPs are planning an isolationist strategy to isolate the far-right in the European Parliament – however, the chances of success of this EU strategy are not certain.

In Portugal and Spain, deadlocked governments are also turning to counter-extremist coalitions. Luis Montenegro has 'aligned himself' with the PS and the Liberal Initiative, ousting Sega, the party with the third most votes in the March 10 legislative election. In a neighboring country, in a deeply controversial move, the Socialist government is ready to work with Catalans accused of crimes against Spain's constitution – according to Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, working with separatists is preferable to handing the government over to radicalism. Populist forces.

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Germany is the only country in Europe that has a popular movement against extremism in the streets. Hundreds of thousands of people marched against the anti-immigration AfD. Although the AfD has almost 25% of the electorate and is predicted to win seats in the Reichstag this summer, it is unlikely that any established party will work with them.

There is a weakness in this tactic: Isolation only deals with people when they reach out to the government. It's always half that, because if the populists win an absolute majority, the garden sanitaire will be useless.

The US, Poland and Brazil have already elected populists. Establishment Democrats are trying to invigorate Joe Biden's lackluster presidential campaign by arguing that he is a Democratic bulwark against Donald Trump's MAGA movement.

However, Trump does not enjoy the benefit of being an unknown quantity to Republicans. Those who love him are true believers. Others don't like him. The winner of the US presidential election is likely to be the candidate hated by voters.

In Poland, Donald Tusk and his coalition are trying to restore the independence of the judiciary and oust ultra-nationalists from the top ranks of the bureaucracy. Tusk can win because he has the support of Polish voters and the EU bureaucracy.

Brazil's isolationist strategy depends on a judicial system that has been far more effective than US courts: former President Jair Bolsonaro and his key supporters were barred from elected office for the next 7 years.

In Israel, the religious right has taken a prominent place in the wartime unity government. He built a wall against the progressive parties – a reverse isolationism. Although Netanyahu is loathed by most Israelis and has been described as “the worst leader in Jewish history,” it is difficult to oust him. The Hamas attacks on October 7 gave him another political life.

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Democracy is also under attack in countries like India, Hungary and Italy. The biggest advantage of populist sequestrations today is that they give pro-democracy parties some breathing room. How these parties use this borrowed time will determine the fate of countries.

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