Still, these promises are mild compared with what the other anti-establishment parties of Europe are offering. With the exception of the Catalans, most of them call not for independence but rather for national renewal as well as national control: of economics, of borders, of fate. Sometimes this takes the form of anti-immigration rhetoric, sometimes it’s anti-European Union or just anti-Germany. Most of them are on the political right: France’s National Front, Austria’s Freedom Party, Hungary’s Jobbik, Britain’s U.K. Independence Party. Some of them are essentially anarchists, like the Italian party formed by the comedian Beppe Grillo. A few lie on the far left, but they are tied together by a political style that favors politically incorrect rhetoric, theatrical demonstrations, flags and sometimes music. In Scotland, it was bagpipes. In Hungary, the anti-establishment tunes are sung to the strains of heavy metal.
They are also linked by a dislike of their respective national elites. European voters have long been bored by the endless trade-offs between the center-left and the center-right — and in some countries decades of center-left-right coalitions — and, since the financial crisis, they seem to have lost faith in all of them. The ideals of European unity that inspired a previous generation don’t move younger people who have no memory of what came before. At the same time, it is increasingly and notably strange that the wealthiest group of nations on Earth cannot create a policy to cope with the chaos rising on its southern and eastern borders — chaos that is, of course, the source of massive new immigration as well as economic instability. Instead, distant European Union institutions appear to fill their time making petty regulations. No wonder voters want to bring the decision-making “home.”