EU referendum: Fear of populism haunts European press
- 26 June 2016
- From the section Europe
Digesting the UK's vote to leave the EU, papers across Europe call for radical change to counter what they see as a rising tide of populism and nationalism on the continent.
"The EU needs a complete overhaul," says Germany's Sueddeutsche Zeitung.
"The remaining union has to learn from the Brexit vote and carry out the most fundamental examination of its policies" since its creation in 1957, the paper argues.
Der Tagesspiegel agrees, and tells the EU to "reform or be destroyed".
But it also warns that there is a "shocking gulf" between remedies offered by the political elites - closer integration, especially in economic terms - and the expectations of ordinary Europeans.
The answer, it concludes, is "more openness, more transparency", as well as a stronger focus on welfare.
'On the loose'
Under a picture of French and Dutch far right leaders Marine Le Pen and Geert Wilders, an article in Der Spiegel voices alarm at the rise of the "great simplifiers", saying they threaten democracy by appealing to the irrational.
"The populists are on the loose, and not just in Great Britain," it warns. "They are dragging Western Europe towards its downfall."
"Populism is tearing Europe apart," a commentary in Spain's El Pais agrees, but warns that any changes to the EU should not try to appease their "anti-establishment" discourse.
"Populist parties have grown by exploiting the idea that the EU is to blame for an economic crisis caused by the whims of the markets," it argues
Instead, it calls for policies that "promote stability" and "reject blaming Europe for our ills when it is part of the solution".
'Wave of nationalism'
An article entitled "the dictatorship of democracy" in El Mundo voices the fear that other countries could follow Britain's example.
"What is disturbing is that, after Brexit, fools can say with greater strength and certainty: 'Yes you can.'"
In Italy's La Repubblica, a commentary says the vote for Brexit reflects rising general discontent by the "excluded" that is driving the rise of the likes of Donald Trump in the US, as well as of Italy's own populist Five Star Movement.
On the website of Polish news magazine Polityka, commentator Andrzej Celinski warns against "giving in to the wave of nationalism", and appeals to Poles to end what it calls their hesitant approach to the EU project.
"In the face of a real threat to the [European] Union, Poland's political leaders must stand together to fight for European unity," he urges. "Do not follow the British. Build Europe".
An article in Polish newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza agrees, saying that the anger felt by many EU citizens must be channelled into a desire for a "stronger Europe and better democracy, not nationalist phantoms".