BERLIN — As Western Europe gears up for a string of elections over the next year, right-wing parties are seizing on Donald Trump's victory as proof that a strong nationalistic stance against trade and immigration will propel them into power.
A wave of populism already has spread to Eastern Europe, where countries that include Croatia, Hungary, Poland and Slovenia have rightest governments.
Farther west, Austria next month could elect Europe's first far-right head of state since World War II. Norbert Hofer of the Freedom Party narrowly lost a race for the largely ceremonial post in April, but a new election was ordered because of alleged irregularities in counting mailed-in ballots.
France, Germany and the Netherlands, which hold general elections in 2017, also have seen a U.S.-style shift in support from mainstream parties to anti-establishment nationalists. The trend comes amid growing anxiety over weak job prospects tied to globalization, as well as a migrant crisis seen as a threat to security and a drain on social welfare benefits.
Many Europeans blame the problems on decades of membership in the European Union, which they feel is oblivious to their concerns about the free flow of labor and migration within the 28-nation bloc.
"People are sick and tired of politicians who refused to listen to their worries about rising immigration, the loss of law and order, taxes being spent abroad while domestic needs are rising, trade agreements that harm employment at home," said Geert Wilders, a Dutch lawmaker and leader of the Netherlands' far-right Party for Freedom.
"We are witnessing a Patriotic Spring, in America as well as in Europe," he told USA TODAY. "Our people have the same worries as the American people. The Trump victory proves that change is possible. There is no doubt this will encourage the Dutch people to vote for change as well."
Wouter Dol of the Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy, a group that helps young democracies organize elections, said Wilders paints himself as a political outsider like Trump despite being a seasoned politician with more than a decade of lawmaking experience.