Populist parties are on the rise across Europe, united by euroskepticism, nationalism and xenophobia. Their supporters often feel let down by the mainstream parties – on the left and the right. In next year's elections to the European Parliament, populist parties are expected to increase their share of the vote. But how much of a danger do they really present to the European Union?
Populist parties throughout Europe have been notching up successes at the ballot box with smear campaigns against migrants and EU corruption and with panic mongering about the European debt crisis. If an alliance of these groups gains enough support in May's vote, it could block EU policy and change the character of Europe for good.
Populist parties are tapping into the frustrations of voters unhappy with the existing political establishment. Up to now, mainstream parties have watched the development helplessly. Some have even begun to adopt a populist agenda and rhetoric themselves.
How can established parties respond to this challenge without risking the loss of even more voters and without resorting to populism themselves? And what kind of threat does the nationalism and xenophobia propounded by these parties pose to the idea of a peaceful, united Europe?
Tell us what you think:Populist Alliance - Europe in Danger
Géraldine Schwarz - is a French TV journalist based in Berlin. Following her studies at the Sorbonne, in Modern History and Current Affairs, she took up journalism, attending the “Centre de Formation des Journalistes” in Paris. There followed a stint at Bloomberg, also in the French capital. Lately, she has been working for the French news agency AFP and the French-German public TV channel ARTE, covering international news, German affairs as well as cultural matters.
Ulrike Herrmann - started her career in banking before taking up journalism at the renowned Henri Nannen School. After that she studied history and philosophy at Berlin’s Free University. She then worked as a research assistant at the Körber Foundation and was the press officer for Hamburg’s Equal Opportunities minister. For several years, she has been a political correspondent and business editor at the Berlin daily "taz".
David Charter – he is the Berlin Correspondent of the British newspaper The Times. He has worked at the newspaper in various roles including Chief Political Correspondent from 2001-2006. After that he served as the newspapers´ EU-Correspondent in Brussels for five years. Last year, he published his book "Au Revoir Europe: What if Britain left the EU?".