The EU and the European Elites in the Face of Rising Populisms in the Continent

IED Working Paper by Jose Felix Merladet


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The working paper discusses the rise of populism and political extremism in the European Union from political, historical, philosophical and sociological point of view. In author's opinion, Europeans are not anymore in an Era of Changes but they are rather witnessing a Change of Era. Although the EU citizens are living in the best of possible times – Europe is the most peaceful, most democratic, wealthiest and socially secure than ever in its long history – more and more voters have started to turn to populist and extremist political forces that are openly against the current establishment, against the EU and in some cases against democratic regime itself. Populist parties and movements, mostly on the right, are becoming a powerful force in both Europe and the USA.

The author questions why this is happening and why it is happening now and he offers the set of causes for the rise of populism and political extremism with elaborated explanations that cover European history, philosophy, sociological trends in the society and current political landscape in the EU Member States.

Reflecting all these sets of causes, the author concludes that the only possible guarantee of a better future for the continent is the European Union. There should be an enormous effort to persuade the people that they cannot get rid of Europe but they need to get more Europe. But for that it should be a Europe in which they feel comfortable in and with which they can identify themselves, a Europe of democracy, human rights, rule of law and welfare state, and also a Europe of culture and traditions strongly rooted on three pillars: the Greek philosophical rationality, the Roman approach to law, order and justice, and the Christian religion and its ethics.

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