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Europe’s Populist Surge

A Long Time in the Making

To Viktor go the spoils: Orban at an Austria-Hungary soccer match, June 2016. SERGIO PEREZ / REUTERS

The year 2015 was a dreadful one for Europe in general and for the EU in particular. It started with the terrorist attack against the magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris and ended with an even more deadly jihadist assault in the same city. In between, the EU battled an economic crisis in Greece, which threatened the entire eurozone, and endured a staggering inflow of refugees from the Middle East and other war-torn regions.

The year 2016 has not been much better. More terrorist attacks have shaken the continent. The refugee crisis has abated slightly, but only because the EU has outsourced the problem to Turkey—a country that is itself experiencing a bout of instability. And for the first time, the EU is set to lose a member, the United Kingdom, as a result of the so-called Brexit referendum.

All these developments have helped push populist movements to the center of European

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