From 'Brexit' To Trump, Nationalist Movements
Gain Momentum Around World

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

When Donald Trump landed in Scotland just hours after the United Kingdom's historic vote, he was quick to draw parallels between that country's decision to leave the European Union and his own presidential campaign.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

DONALD TRUMP: People want to take their country back, and they want to have independence, in a sense. And you see it with Europe - all over Europe.

SIMON: Populist nationalist parties have been gaining support across Europe in recent years. And as NPR's Scott Detrow reports, there are similarities between those movements and Trump's campaign.

SCOTT DETROW, BYLINE: Take a listen to Nigel Farage celebrating the United Kingdom's decision to leave the EU.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

NIGEL FARAGE: This will be a victory for real people, a victory for ordinary people.

DETROW: Farage heads the far right U.K. Independence Party, and for years, he's been the leading voice, calling for a divorce from the EU. When he declares victory, it sounds a lot like the type of rhetoric we've been hearing across the political spectrum.

FARAGE: We have fought against the multinationals. We fought against the big merchant banks. We fought against big politics.

DETROW: While the feeling has gone more mainstream lately, contempt for the elite class is a key part of nationalist party movements.

YASCHA MOUNK: People feel, quite rightly, that they have no real control of the political system. The political class does what it wants and sort of ignores ordinary people. And to a large extent, that's because of the necessities of globalization.

DETROW: That's Yascha Mounk. He teaches political theory at Harvard University and has studied the rise of nationalist movements. Mounk says these parties have existed in Europe for a long time, but in recent decades, they've been gaining more and more power due to a mix of economic, ethnic and religious factors.

MOUNK: You have a socially descending middle class that hasn't had real gains in the standard of living in 30 years. And the same time, you seem to have real improvements in social status, if not necessarily economic status, for ethnic minorities. And so they feel like our country is being taken away.

DETROW: And in addition to resentment toward elites, many of the movements pin the blame for their country's problems on immigrants. Cas Mudde also studies nationalist parties. He is a professor at the University of Georgia.

CAS MUDDE: The idea of nativism, of seeing a country under threat by non-natives, specifically immigrants and Muslims, is something that Marine Le Pen and Donald Trump clearly share.

DETROW: Syria's refugee crisis and terror attacks aligned with ISIS heighten those feelings. Here's Le Pen, the leader of France's National Front Party.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MARINE le PEN: (Through interpreter) For the last 10 years, I've been warning of the rise of radical Islam in our country. For ten years, I've been saying the connections between Islam and crime are rising and that some entire neighborhoods are falling into the hands of radical Islamists. And I repeat that we are underestimating this danger.

DETROW: Compare that to Trump.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

TRUMP: We need to tell the truth, also, about how radical Islam is coming to our shores. And it's coming. With these people, folks, it's coming.

DETROW: One other parallel among all these movements - the solution is just a new leader with the political courage to carry out an easy fix.

TRUMP: We're going to build the wall, folks. Don't worry about that.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING)

TRUMP: Who's going to pay for the wall? Who?

UNIDENTIFIED PEOPLE: Mexico.

DETROW: In fact, under nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orban, Hungary has already built a border fence to try to stem Europe's migrant flow.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

VIKTOR ORBAN: Many people criticized the physical barrier we are just setting up this moment in Hungary. I ask everybody - all the European leaders - what other ideas they have.

DETROW: Yascha Mounk thinks these parties will continue gaining power over the next few years.

MOUNK: Because people aren't going to have a trust in politics. They don't have a trust in institutions.

DETROW: And despite retreats like Brexit, globalization just isn't going away, so nationalism will continue to be a powerful political argument. And nationalism is clearly at the heart of Trump's campaign. Here's one moment in a speech this week.

(SOUNDBITE OF SPEECH)

TRUMP: Americans - Americans - the people that we love - Americans. America first. Make our country great again. Americans.

DETROW: Scott Detrow, NPR News. And tomorrow you can join us on Weekend Edition Sunday for coverage of the elections in Spain, where anti-establishment parties are also gaining support.

Copyright © 2016 NPR