With elections due across Europe and a referendum in Italy, the establishment fears political tremors
Dogged by the migration crisis and the traumatic business of Brexit – to name just two current, existential challenges to their project – those who run the European Union felt they had enough on their plates before Donald Trump seized the White House.
News of his triumph broke on Europe, as had that of the British vote to leave the European Union on 23 June, in defiance of opinion pollsters and the assumptions of political elites that maintained that the world’s most advanced democracy could never deliver such a blow to the established order. Then it did.
In EU capitals, where they had preferred to dismiss Brexit as a one-off revolt by the union’s most difficult member, Trump’s election prompted the same elites to question their easy assumptions and entertain, for the first time, the impossible.
On Wednesday morning in Paris, a senior member of the French establishment, with experience of service at the highest levels in Europe and Washington, said of his country: “I wasn’t worried about what would happen here. But now I am concerned. I think we have to be.”
The question was “what next, where next?”
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