The congratulations began even before it was clear Donald Trump would triumph in the American presidential election, and they continued the next day as leaders of the European far right, who’d made common cause with some of the Republican presidential nominee’s stated policies, reveled in what they predicted would be their own victories next year.
There was Marine Le Pen, the leader of the National Front in France, who called Trump’s election a “great movement across the world.” Her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, who in the 1970s revived an ideology discredited in Europe by World War II and transformed it from a minor embarrassing irritant into a real contender against the dominant center-left and center-right ideologies in France, said: “Today the United States, tomorrow France.” In the U.K., Nigel Farage, the head of the U.K. Independence Party who had championed Brexit and campaigned alongside Trump, said, he “couldn’t be happier.” In the Netherland, Geert Wilders, who heads the Party for Freedom, called Trump’s win “historic.” In Germany, Frauke Petry, the head of Alternative for Germany (AfD), said Trump’s victory “changes the USA, Europe, and the world.” And in Austria, which is on the verge of electing a far-right leader to its highest, but largely ceremonial, position of president, Heinz-Christian Strache, the head of the Freedom Party, said voters had punished “the political left and the aloof and sleazy establishment.”
We don’t yet know whether a President Trump would govern the way candidate Donald Trump said he would. Many of the more controversial elements of his policies--a wall on the U.S. border with Mexico to keep away immigrants, a total ban on Muslims entering the U.S.—were dispensed with in the last days of his campaign against Hillary Clinton. But after his victory, Trump reiterated a consistent theme from his campaign, tweeting: “The forgotten man and woman will never be forgotten again.” It’s both those elements that Trump’s admirers on the European far-right find the most attractive.