The past five years have forced the European Union to face significant challenges both internally and externally — from the recession to the ongoing migrant crisis.

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Right wing populist parties have been on the rise, exemplified by the United Kingdom Independence Party, the Italian Lega Nord, and the French National Front. Anti-European tendencies also exist on the left, with Podemos in Spain and Syrzia in Greece resisting European austerity. More radical leftist parties exist as well, such as the Left Bloc in Portugal, which advocates for an EU exit. Europe’s fringe parties, both on the left and right, are more similar than one would expect.

In order to fulfill their parties’ mandate, both the radical right and left must reassert sovereignty in opposition to the European Union. The radical rightist parties rest on a populist economic platform which decries globalization and argues that liberal market models will destroy nationalist values, similar to policies taken by the far left.

In Poland, recent elections ushered the Law and Justice party (PiS) into power, which is economically populist but hard right on social issues. PiS does not advocate leaving the EU, but does express skepticism towards many EU policies. In Sweden, the far right Swedish Democrats and the Swedish Left party both advocate leaving the European Union, while the Green party maintains a soft euro-skeptic position.

If European fringe parties continue to have electoral success, watch for significant economic repercussions for the European Union.

Related Experts: Andrea Montanino