The chancellor condemned the rise of populism – a political movement that strives to appeal to the average Joe and fight the elite – in Europe and accused far-right parties of destroying the core values of the EU. She said: “We’re having to deal with populist movements that in many areas are contemptuous of these values, who want to destroy the Europe of our values. We have to stand up to this decisively. What falls under this is that minorities are not protected, that basic human rights are called into question and that corruption plays a role in politics.”
Mrs Merkel made the remarks when asked about a scandal engulfing Austria’s far-right Freedom Party, whose leader Heinz-Christian Strache quit on Saturday as government vice-chancellor after he was videoed offering state contracts in exchange for political support.
She herself has kept a low-profile during campaigning for next week’s EU parliamentary election, while the Brexit Party was reported earlier this week to have more backing in the UK than the Tory and Labour parties combined.
Mrs Merkel has left the most vocal election campaigning to fellow countryman Manfred Weber, the top conservative candidate in the May 23 election.
Mr Weber said the Austrian scandal vindicated his intention not to rely on votes from far-right parties in his bid for EU commission president.
He said: ”The far right and populists are ready to sell their patriotism and the values of their country for their gains.”
Meanwhile, the latest YouGov survey of voter intentions for the European elections placing the Tories in fifth place behind Nigel Farage’s eurosceptic Party, Labour, Liberal Democrats and the Green Party.
The Brexit Party received over a third of all votes, polling at 35 percent, Lib Dems has 16 percent, Labour has 15 percent, Green Party 10 percent and Conservatives on just nine percent.
The YouGov survey took place between May 12 and May 16 and quizzed 7,192 adults in the UK on their voting intentions for the European elections.