Dream Fading

KOBLENZ, Germany (AP) — European nationalist leaders came together Saturday in a show of strength at the start of a year of big election tests, celebrating Donald Trump’s inauguration as U.S. president and declaring themselves a realistic alternative to the continent’s governments.

Right-wing populist leaders from France, the Netherlands, Germany, Italy and elsewhere strode confidently into the Koblenz congress hall on the banks of the Rhine River ahead of a flag-waving escort, setting the tone for a gathering whose mood was buoyed by Trump’s swearing-in. The European parties hope for similar success in tapping anti-establishment and protectionist sentiment in elections this year.

“I believe we are witnessing historic times,” Dutch anti-Islam leader Geert Wilders told reporters. “The world is changing. America is changing. Europe is changing. And the people start getting in charge again.”

Wilders, speaking in English, declared that “the genie will not go back into the bottle again, whether you like it or not.”

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