May 19, 2024

Protests in Prague Signal a Troubled Winter Ahead in Europe

“They may think they have no other place to express their displeasure,” he said.

The far right is having a resurgence across Europe. This week, the Brothers of Italy party won the largest share of votes in Italian elections. And in Sweden, a group founded by neo-Nazis and skinheads looks set to become the largest party in the next government.

In Germany, the far-right Alternative for Germany, known by its German acronym AfD, has risen to about 15 percent in public polls and is planning protests in Berlin next month.

“People are not even using heating yet — that is still to come,” said Mr. Quent. “And, nevertheless, the AfD already had a visible upswing. This is, indeed, the scenario I have feared.”

In the Prague protest, many who joined bristled at the idea of being called fringe or far right.

“It’s not only energy prices rising — grocery prices, too. I am raising my granddaughter, and I am worried,” said Miroslav Kusmirek, who came from a town 30 miles outside the capital to protest on a rainy afternoon. “I see companies now struggling and I worry; if the company that employs me collapses, so will I.”

As he spoke, a speaker onstage from Germany’s AfD, Christine Anderson, was shouting to loud cheers, “You no longer live in a democracy!”

For energy experts, the populist surge adds yet another knot in the tangle of problems Europe is grappling with. On top of Russia’s cutting gas, France’s nuclear plants have been at half capacity because of maintenance issues, and a severe drought has hampered Germany’s ability to import coal over the summer.

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