Los Angeles Times

Populists, nationalists again test their strength in pan-European vote

The last time elections for the European Parliament were held, the vote was dismissed by many as a sleepy, low-stakes affair.

Five years ago, Brexit wasn't even a blip on the horizon. Populist and extreme-right parties were mainly political sideshows. The pillars of the postwar order - NATO, the European Union - were weathering occasional family squabbles but hardly riven by existential threats. And the trans-Atlantic relationship hadn't been turned on its head by an impetuous U.S. president who speaks far more harshly of traditional European allies than he does of tyrants such as North Korea's Kim Jong Un.

This time around, it's an entirely different landscape. When four-day balloting for the European Union's legislative body begins Thursday, starting with votes in Britain and the Netherlands, mainstream parties that

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