When America sneezes…

WHAT lessons should Europe draw from Donald Trump’s election victory? For those Europeans who believe in American exceptionalism, there may be little to learn. America’s circus-like primaries and gladiatorial presidential contests find few echoes in Europe, and Mr Trump, in all his preening, soufflé-haired glory, is surely a sui generis American phenomenon. Moreover, the electoral college is a peculiar institution. Hillary Clinton seems to have won the popular vote, after all.

But for most European politicians the shock of the American election was compounded by the obvious parallels for their own democracies. Worried leaders tempered their letters of congratulation to Mr Trump with veiled reminders of the transatlantic values many of them believe his victory imperils. Meanwhile Europe’s army of little Trumps, from France to Italy to Hungary, took their own lessons from the result, showering laudatory missives upon the president-elect that had little to do with America and everything to do with the messengers’ own projects of political disruption: if it can happen there, why not here? The “aloof and sleazy establishment is being punished by voters step-by-step,” said Heinz-Christian Strache of Austria’s far-right Freedom Party (FPÖ) in his Facebook salute to Mr Trump.


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