Beyond Trump and Batman: Far Right leaders say 2017 will be a year of a patriotic awakening in Europe

Elections in France, Germany and the Netherlands threaten to rearrange Europe's political landscape...

Beyond Trump and Batman: Far Right leaders say 2017 will be a year of a patriotic awakening in Europe

Michael Probst AP/Press Association Images

Soon after Donald Trump's Inauguration address on Friday a short passage which echoed a speech by Bane, the villain from Christoper Nolan's 2012 Batman film The Dark Knight Rises, went viral.

The main takeaway from this meme was not that his speech writers had been nicking lines from Batman films, it was that the two, Bane and Trump, were drawing from the same well of generic post-financial crash anti-establishment rhetoric.

Although it is worth pointing out that Bane was practicing a brand of militant Marxism - while Donald Trump is a free market capitalist.

The above section of Bane's speech is preceded by a promise to save 'the people' from those who have kept to the public under control though "myths of opportunity" (like Mr Trump's pledge to 'Make America Great Again'). Christopher Nolan's villain riled against Wall St - not migrants and clunky public healthcare legislation.

The Right side of History

This kind of broad catch-all anti-elite brand of politics is alive and flourishing across Europe as three key EU nations enter volatile election periods.

The 'leading-lights' of Europe's emerging mainstream far right parties gathered in Koblenz in the west of Germany on Saturday at a meeting to coincide with the inauguration of Donald Trump and the kick-off of a year of European elections.

While the primary parties in attendance (who were deemed to be a bit too far right for UKIP) share different and conflicting policies in a number of areas, they are hoping to tap into the same vein as Trump in coming elections in the Netherlands, France, and Germany. Their only real concrete connections are shared hard-line anti-migrant messages.

Marine Le Pen / PA

"His [Trump's] position on Europe is clear. He does not support a system of the oppression of peoples," French far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen told the audience.

"2016 was the year the Anglo-Saxon world woke up. I am certain 2017 will be the year when the people of continental Europe wake up," she continued.

Ms Le Pen was recently spotted at Trump Tower in New York - she described his victory as 2016's "second coup" - following the UK's decision to leave the EU.


Le Mond's latest opinion poll has her ahead in the French presidential race - although the lead is narrow. The vote will take place on April 23rd.

Her national party is a coalition of a series of different groups - and is generally more economically left leaning than Germany’s Alternative für Deutschland (AfD).

Economist Alain Minc described the party's divisions to the BBC (transcribed by Euronews):

"There are two Front Nationals: one in the north of France which is anti-religious, very socialist, quite leftist; and one in the south, which accepts the euro, which is – economically speaking – liberal, and Catholic," they are held together by a will to upset the political status quo - and its anti-migrant policies.

Geert Wilders / PA

Ms Le Pen's message is, "We are not going to welcome any more people, stop, we are full up." Speaking on Saturday she echoed Donald Trump by describing Angela Merkel’s liberal refugee policy as a catastrophe.

She argued that she had let hundreds of thousands of refugees into the country, "against the will of the German people."

The Dutch Freedom Party (PVV) also attended the summit - which was greeted by a sizable public protest.

Its leader, Geert Wilders hit on similar themes, saying that, "The patriots are winning. The time for change has come," during his address.

Anti-Le Pen protesters / PA

He predicted that Le Pen will win the French vote - and drew from the Trump lexicon, telling voters to, "make Europe great again."

The Dutch politician's party is riding high in the latest opinion polls - but it is unlikely to find partners to form a coalition after the vote on March 15th.

AfD is expected to attract up to 15% of votes in September's election in Germany - this will make it the first right wing nationalist party to enter the German parliament since World War II.