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Trump and the End of the West?

Summary:
“If Donald Trump’s victory in the United States’ presidential election was an earthquake, then the transition period leading up to his inauguration on January 20 feels like a tsunami warning,” says Spain’s former foreign minister, Ana Palacio. But the warnings have sounded the loudest across the Atlantic of late, with populists in Italy and Austria mounting fresh challenges to the stability of the European Union and its common currency.Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s defeat in the referendum he called to reform Italy’s creaking constitution had been anticipated, but the opposition’s margin of victory was unexpectedly large. While Renzi has submitted his resignation to Italy’s president, Sergio Mattarella, a caretaker administration is expected to be formed. That would leave the populist Five Star Movement – which led the “No” campaign in the run-up to the referendum – to wait until February 2018 to try to capitalize on its surging popularity in a general election. And time may yet prove the populists’ undoing: Alexander Van der Bellen’s victory over the far-right Norbert Hofer in the re-run of Austria’s presidential election (on the same day as Renzi’s defeat) suggests that greater familiarity with the populists may dilute their appeal.

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“If Donald Trump’s victory in the United States’ presidential election was an earthquake, then the transition period leading up to his inauguration on January 20 feels like a tsunami warning,” says Spain’s former foreign minister, Ana Palacio. But the warnings have sounded the loudest across the Atlantic of late, with populists in Italy and Austria mounting fresh challenges to the stability of the European Union and its common currency.

Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s defeat in the referendum he called to reform Italy’s creaking constitution had been anticipated, but the opposition’s margin of victory was unexpectedly large. While Renzi has submitted his resignation to Italy’s president, Sergio Mattarella, a caretaker administration is expected to be formed. That would leave the populist Five Star Movement – which led the “No” campaign in the run-up to the referendum – to wait until February 2018 to try to capitalize on its surging popularity in a general election. And time may yet prove the populists’ undoing: Alexander Van der Bellen’s victory over the far-right Norbert Hofer in the re-run of Austria’s presidential election (on the same day as Renzi’s defeat) suggests that greater familiarity with the populists may dilute their appeal.

Trump’s appeal is already wearing thin, at least among more orthodox congressional Republicans, who are openly questioning...

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