Tech could unite Europe's populists ahead of EU vote in May

ABC News | 11/24/2018 | Staff
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The web platform was named for a revered French populist philosopher and created by an Italian internet entrepreneur to transform common grievances into proposals and activists into political candidates.

When Italy's deputy prime minister offered the populist 5-Star Movement's Rousseau platform to France's yellow vest protesters, he took a step too far for French President Emmanuel Macron. The French leader recalled France's ambassador to Italy for a week in the sharpest diplomatic dispute between the two allies since World War II.

Sharing - Rousseau - Technology - Attempt - Date

The sharing of the Rousseau technology marks the most brazen attempt to date to internationalize Europe's populist movements. It is a harbinger of the upcoming European Parliament elections in May, in which populist euroskeptics could win an unprecedented one-third of the seats, under current projections . This could well cause a collapse of the mainstream group, which up to now has held the largest voting bloc in Parliament.

However, the EU elections will also be a test of how far populist parties, which tend to be virulently nationalistic, can unite over borders and across the political spectrum. In Italy alone, the government's two populist ruling parties, the 5-Star Movement and the League, compete at least as much as they cooperate.

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"These parties are against Europe, but they are using Europe and the pan-European space to create a political debate," said Alberto Alemanno, an Italian analyst.

At their most basic level, populists on both the right and the left pit the common people against the elite, the entrenched political class.

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Technology has helped them advance . The 5-Star Movement used the Rousseau portal to let activists click their way to choosing candidates and policies, much as Spain's upstart Podemos party used Reddit to energize online debate beginning five years ago and still uses online referendums. France's populist yellow vest protesters have yet to come up with...
(Excerpt) Read more at: ABC News
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