Q&A of the Day – What 2023’s Worldwide Elections Tell Us About 2024
Each day I feature a listener question sent by one of these methods.
iHeartRadio: Use the Talkback feature – the microphone button on our station’s page in the iHeart app.
Today’s Entry: Brian, as both a longtime listener and follower of world events, something I’ve not heard you discuss but would like to hear your thoughts on are global political trends. Specifically, we’ve seen two radical leftist governments, in two different hemispheres, get voted out for the most conservative political candidates in those races. In 2016 when Boris Johnson was elected and Brexit passed in England months before the U.S. Presidential election, you were the first I heard point to the potential implications within the U.S. Argentina and the Netherlands are obviously much different politically than England but do you still find relevance in what’s recently happened in those countries?
Bottom Line: Yes, and for three reasons. The top issue in both of those elections, the economy and specifically inflation, is the top issue on the minds of Americans today and has been for over two years now. Secondarily, in the case of the Netherlands election illegal immigration/national security was the second biggest issue as it turned out. As I covered last week, illegal immigration is currently the third biggest issue on the minds of American voters according to Gallup. And while context to the “issues” question isn’t provided, it's safe to say that it’s not the third biggest issue in this country right now because Americans feel we don’t have enough of it taking place. The third reason those two elections, the Netherlands election win by Geert Wilders and the Argentinian election win by Javier Milei are the most recent election wins for Trump-styled, candidates in foreign election races but they’re not the only ones. This has been part of a much larger recent trend.
Quoting a recent Washington Post article entitled, Dutch election show far right rising and reshaping Europe. Historic political momentum has given the far right a seat at Europe’s table and a chance to reshape the region’s politics and policies. The latest victory came in the socially liberal Netherlands, where hard-right icon Geert Wilders and his anti-European Union, anti-Muslim and anti-immigration Party for Freedom landed a shocking first place finish this past week in parliamentary elections. The unexpectedly strong showing by the “Dutch Donald Trump,” who has long pledged to ban the Quran and halt acceptance of asylum seekers, amounted to a powerful warning to mainstream Europe.
“Everywhere in Europe we see the same right-wing wind blowing,” Tom Van Grieken, a Belgian hard-right populist, said in response to Wilders’s win. “The advance that has been underway for a while is clearly continuing in the Netherlands. We share our patriotism and want to put our people first again. Nothing can match that motivation.” Wilders’s success, while shaped in part by domestic conditions, has further buoyed the global hard right, days after Javier Milei, a far-right economist and former television pundit, was elected president in Argentina.
Far-right parties have taken power in Italy, extended their rule in Hungary, earned a coalition role in Finland, become de facto government partners in Sweden, entered Parliament in Greece and made striking gains in regional elections in Austria and Germany. Slovakia is also something of a far-right success story, with the far-right Slovak National Party among the coalition partners supporting populist Robert Fico .
Setting aside some of the subjective characterizations of the Washington Posts’ depiction of politicians that hail from the right which they cited, the story accurately captures the complete context of the big picture regarding what’s been happening politically around the world this year. There’s been a political earthquake of sorts that’s growing in magnitude with its aftershocks. And I’ll add some additional context to this conversation as well. In the referenced example of Boris Johnson’s assentation in England in the summer of 2016, he was likened to Trump in both his brash approach and even in appearance. But in reality, from a political perspective, he wasn’t and isn’t a conservative politician. He was simply considered a conservative by way of both his political party and that of the previously leftist governing of the Labor Party. What makes what’s happened around the world this year so telling, is that those being elected are, as was cited in today’s note, the most conservative options running in these countries. We’re talking about politicians that are to the right of mainstream Republican politics in this country, and in the case of Geert Wilders in particular, to the right of any credible Republican running for president including Donald Trump.
My wife Ashley and I had the honor and pleasure many years ago to meet with and have dinner with Geert Wilders during a private trip to Palm Beach. A trip intentionally kept off the radar due to security concerns (he's been under constant threat by Islamic terror groups for two decades – given his open criticism to teachings in the Quran – incidentally, the same which I’ve flagged publicly since 9/11). He doesn’t just talk a conservative game publicly; his message is who he really is in private as well. I’ve never been the type to be impressed or enamored with celebrities or politicians. However, I was more impressed with Geert after meeting with him – that's seldom the case. From entertainers to world leaders, I only need four fingers to tell you the number of people I’ve had a higher opinion of after spending time with them in private, than I did prior. Geert is one of them. And the reason that matters in my mind, is that unlike 2016, you have elected leaders around the world who won’t just talk good games but will govern accordingly, which aside from the protracted Brexit, was something Boris Johnson, for example, never did. Here are notable countries conservatives have either assumed power, or have made significant gains in this year:
- New Zealand
Literally from one side of the world to the other there are examples of a growing rejection of leftist policies and politicians for often the most conservative options available to voters. This is a far more pervasive trend around the world than anything we’ve seen since the early years following World War II. Should all of this be taken to mean that come next November we’ll see something similar in this country? Only if you have a crystal ball that tells you that the biggest issues today will be the biggest issues eleven months from now (though there is a good chance they will). But what the polls in this country are telling you, with Trump performing an average of 9-points better against Biden in a hypothetical rematch today, compared to Election Day 2020, is that if the election were to be held today there would almost certainly be a similar result to what we’ve seen with the worldwide trend this year.