Swinging To The Right

swinging-to-right

The face of global politics is changing one country at a time and it all seems to be shifting towards the right, says Pratiti Ganatra.

French far-right Presidential candidate Marine Le Pen in an interview to Andrew Marr, which aired on BBC1 on Remembrance Day, predicted that her election as the French President next year will be the third act of a “global revolution” – the first two being Britain’s decision to exit the European Union and the election of Donald Trump as the President of the United States Of America. Andrew Marr and the BBC, who have had to face backlash on the decision to interview her, and more so with the timing of the airing, have defended their decision by saying that it was vital to analyse and scrutinise the views of such politicians and that “failing to report on the challenge she and Donald Trump pose to western security would not honour those killed in the historic fight against fascism.”

Although Le Pen since becoming the leader of the FN in January 2011 has tried to distance the party from its anti-Semitic past, her preamble seems to be illegal immigration, Islam and the European Union.

Leader of France’s National Front (FN), Marine Le Pen is seen as a frontrunner in next year’s presidential elections. Polls even suggested that she would beat either of the two conservative contestants in next May’s vote. Although Le Pen since becoming the leader of the FN in January 2011 has tried to distance the party from its anti-Semitic past, her preamble seems to be illegal immigration, Islam and the European Union. She has pledged that if elected, she will ensure that the French people get a referendum on EU membership as well. And although analysts point out that she will find it impossible to break through the 30% barrier that has comprised the vote share of the FN, Le Pen has emerged as one of the most eminent leaders of the far-right in Europe.

The Freedom Party of Austria, which was founded in the 1950’s by ex-Nazis, almost won the largely ceremonial presidency of Austria in May, 2016. Nobert Hofer lost in the final run-off vote on December 4. “The left and the corrupt establishment, which considers itself so superior, are being punished blow by blow by the voters and voted out of various positions of responsibility,” said Heinz-Christian Strache, leader of the Freedom Party of Austria. In fact, Strache recently announced that he had signed what he called a cooperation agreement with Russia’s ruling party and also met with Lt. Gen Michael T.Flynn, the designated national security advisor to President-elect Donald Trump. It seems like the Freedom Party, which still leads all the opinion polls in Austria, ahead of the two predominant parties, will continue it’s quest for international recognition and electoral success.

In Germany, the rise of the AfD – Alternative for Germany Party has clearly started to erode Angela Merkel’s position. Started in April 2013 as a protest movement against the euro-currency, the party as of September 2016 had gained representation in 10 of the 16 German state parliaments.

In Germany, the rise of the AfD – Alternative for Germany Party has clearly started to erode Angela Merkel’s position. Started in April 2013 as a protest movement against the euro-currency, the party as of September 2016 had gained representation in 10 of the 16 German state parliaments. And although the far-right yields much less importance in Germany than it does in it’s neighbouring country of Austria, Peter Beyer, a CDU member of the German Parliament makes a valid point. He told the CBS News in an interview that, “They are there, we have to take them seriously and they are a serious political new power. They will not be so strong that they will be part of any coalition in Berlin, but it’s 100% sure that they will be elected to the Bundestag next year, maybe even with more than 10%.”

Geert Wilders, another one of the most eminent far-right politicians of Europe, leads the Party For Freedom in Netherlands, which was leading in the polls in early November, ahead of the parliamentary elections in 2017. In early December he was convicted for incitement to discrimination and of insulting a group for leading an anti-Moroccan chant at a political rally in the Netherlands. But the year-of-the-end polls suggest that the trial has improved his party’s standing instead of diminishing it, and if elections were held in Netherlands now, his party would become the largest Dutch party. His anti-immigration, anti-Islam and anti-EU stance seems to have a lot of takers among the voters. His has taken a page out of Donald Trump’s playbook, as he decided to campaign his election with the slogan – ‘Make The Netherlands Great Again’.

To many, the United Kingdom’s decision to break away from the European Union and the election of Donald Trump as the President of the United States Of America has come as a double whammy which they can neither seem to understand nor fully comprehend. And if all the above instances show us one thing, it is that the face of global politics is changing one country at a time and it all seems to be shifting towards the right. “There is a crisis of confidence in the European Union’s old elites. The integration and open borders that they sold supporters are past their expiry date,” says Nic Robertson of the CNN. But what are the chief causes of such anti-establishment sentiments?

In early 2015, Angela Merkel had predicted that migration and asylum would “in the future preoccupy” Europe “much, much more” than financial issues have done. And she couldn’t have been more right about it.

In early 2015, Angela Merkel had predicted that migration and asylum would “in the future preoccupy” Europe “much, much more” than financial issues have done. And she couldn’t have been more right about it. “If there was a crisis in 2015, it had less to do with the refugees – who knew what they were fleeing and where they wanted to go – and much more to do with European governments and societies who did not all step up to the plate. In fact, Europe isn’t confronted with a refugee and migrant crisis. It’s the refugees and migrants who are confronted with a crisis of Europe,” writes Natalie Nougayrede in The Guardian. But the right-wing parties have used the anti-immigration card as the heart of their political stance. A Gallup poll reveals the growing scepticism of traditional establishment politics across the continent. 52% responders said that they wanted lower immigration levels, and feared that refugees would increase the likelihood of terrorism in the country. In fact, the Pew Research Center’s 2016 survey report showed that on average more than 70% of the people polled in ten EU countries believed that diversity made their country a worse place to live or that it didn’t make much difference, with only about 30% responding that diversity made their country a better place to live in.

These attacks have just enraged the public opinion further, and made the voters more and more anti-Islam. The Burkini ban in France and the Pegida movement in Germany were just some of the examples of how the anti-Muslim agenda manifested itself in European politics.

The anti-Islam sentiment has also been a key factor in the rise of right-wing populist nationalism across Europe. On November 13, 2015, jihadists slaughtered 130 people in and around the Bataclan Theater in Paris; Brussels was hit in March, with 32 civilian deaths; on Bastille Day, a truck-driving terrorist mowed down 86 pedestrians on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice; a Turkish cop gunned down Russia’s ambassador to Turkey, and a truck driven by a Muslim ran into a busy Christmas market in the centre of Berlin, killing at least 12 and injuring dozens. These attacks have just enraged the public opinion further, and made the voters more and more anti-Islam. The Burkini ban in France and the Pegida movement in Germany were just some of the examples of how the anti-Muslim agenda manifested itself in European politics.

But terrorism and being anti-Islam wasn’t the only concern when it came to refugees and immigration. Many are also concerned about the added economic pressure that they will add to their already strained economies. In fact, Hungarians, Poles, Greeks, Italians and French identify this as their greatest concern. Back in the 1990’s globalisation was seen as a win-win situation, but more and more people are now getting tired of global trade, and global economics and want more control over their own economies. And Donald Trump’s election as the President of The United States Of America might just be the end of the international order of free trade and shared security that the US and its Allies had formed post-WWII.

What will happen in these elections will then determine the political complexion of Europe in the future but for now, it seems as if a populist wave, impelled by anti-immigration, anti-globalisation and anti-Islam sentiments is propelling the rise of right-wing nationalistic parties all across Europe.

March 15, 2017 sees the Dutch face a general election, which will be followed by presidential elections in France in April-May and federal elections in Germany in September. The resurgence of nationalism has become so omnipotent that even the most far-fetched electoral upsets have begun to seem conceivable. What will happen in these elections will then determine the political complexion of Europe in the future but for now, it seems as if a populist wave, impelled by anti-immigration, anti-globalisation and anti-Islam sentiments is propelling the rise of right-wing nationalistic parties all across Europe. And if we take a look at Brexit and the election of Donald Trump, it does seem that we have just begun on this political trajectory.

 

Image via https://sputniknews.com/

 

Pratiti Ganatra has completed her Masters in Mass Communication from the Symbiosis Institute Of Media and Communication, and has been with Kindle Magazine for the past two years. She likes to read and write on politics and history. She hopes that someday she will travel the world and write about it.

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