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The Rise of the Extreme Right-Wing Party in Europe: Reasons and Consequences

The Rise of the Extreme Right-Wing Party in Europe: Reasons and Consequences

04-03-2024
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Introduction

Some Belgians protested on September 2, 2023, in a town south of Brussels under the Belgian political party Flemish Interest, holding various placards that were anti-Islam and anti-immigration. The Brothers of Italy political party, which Georgia Meloni leads, won the Italian election on September 25, 2022. The Brothers of Italy is a far-right neo-fascist political party. The rise of extreme right-wing political parties is increasing in the parliament of Finland, another country on the list that is commonly known as the happiest country in Europe. Right-wing populist marches can be seen on the streets of various European countries, including Italy, Spain, and Hungary, constantly violating the constitution. According to research by political scientist Matthijs Rudhuizen, last year’s national elections in 31 countries showed 32 percent of European voters voting outside mainstream political parties. At the beginning of the 21st century, which was 20 percent, it was only 12 percent at the beginning of the 90s of the last century. In other words, one in three people is currently voting against the European settlement and outside the mainstream. a large part of which is essentially the extreme right wing. Now this is a common question: will the rise of these extreme right-wing political parties bring peace to the people, or is this going to be a situation of fear for the common people? Discussing the current picture of the extreme right-wing parties in Europe and the reasons behind their growth is a topic to showcase the long-term effects for Europe.

Who are the right-wing parties?

A far-right political party is a political organization that is ultra-nationalist, authoritarian, and ideologically driven (intolerant of dissent), often espousing traditional values, defending strong borders, and opposing multiculturalism and globalization. There is no single agreed-upon definition of a far-right political party, but there are certain characteristics that political scientists have suggested are indicative of far-right parties. Far-right groups are variously called radical right, populist (populists can be either right-wing or left-wing), far-right, right-wing populist, and populist radical right.

The far-right rejects liberal democracy, including pluralism and minority rights. Far-right nativists who believe that the state will be for the natives or homogenous, non-native elements (immigration, intolerance of different religions, e.g., Islamophobia) are a threat to the fundamentally homogenous nation-state. Most of the parties that emerged in Europe after World War I were primarily parties based on far-right political ideologies. The National Fascist Party (Italy), the Nazi Party (Germany), the National Socialist German Workers Party (Austria), etc. are called far-right political parties for the above reasons. These extremist groups promoted nationalist ideology after World War I and advocated strong central power and limited political freedom (authoritarianism). The rise of this right-wing party was one of the causes of World War II.

The current picture of Europe

After the Renaissance in Europe, man became the root of everything. The ideological and practical decline of rule by a divine king or dynastic ruler began. Through ‘Bill of Rights’, the power of the king was reduced and people’s rights were talked about in England; Bastille fell in France with the slogan ‘Equality, Friendship, Freedom’. Liberal democracy emerged in Europe to establish real freedom and rights for people. But the liberal democracy of Europe is currently under threat due to the political ideology of the extremist right wing.

There are currently 234 active anti-settlement political parties in Europe, of which 112 are far-right. Brothers of Italy’s 2022 single vote share was 26%; France’s presidential election 2022 Marie Le Pen’s vote was 41.46%; Germany’s Alternative for Germany (AfD) received 10.3% of the vote share in the 2021 election; Spain’s far-right party Vox (VOX) received 15% of the vote; Hungary’s Viktor Orbán’s far-right party formed a government with 59% of the vote in the 2022 election, all of which were far-right parties. Among them, a coalition or a single extreme-right government is in charge of several nations, including Italy, Finland (the Finns), and Hungary.

Why is this extreme right-wing party growing?

After World War II, political stability returned to European countries, freed from fascism, economic fragility, and unemployment. European states gradually became welfare states. Due to this, the Europeans did not lean towards the extreme right. The exact opposite was seen after World War I, when a number of far-right groups emerged. But in the late 20th century and again in the 21st century, the emergence of such groups is increasing in Europe. There are some reasons behind this.

Disillusionment with mainstream politics

Loss of trust in mainstream politics is a major factor in the rise of extreme right or left political parties. People in Europe accept democracy as the preferred system of government, but they are not satisfied with the performance of the government. Due to the increase in the number of immigrants in European countries, the government is forced to adopt an immigration policy that many people do not like. Extreme right-wing parties are taking advantage of this opportunity. They are convincing people that change is possible if they come to power. For example, in 2007, 51% of French people said they trusted the EU, while 34% did not. But in 2018, 57% said they did not believe, and 33% did. That is, their trust in the government is decreasing.

Globalization and Multiculturalism

Globalization has increased the free movement of people across the globe. People from one continent are able to work on other continents. As a result of this globalization, people from different cultures are flocking to Europe, some for jobs, some for a better life. This resulted in job and economic stagnation in Europe, creating new class divisions. Modernization, in the age of globalization, creates advantaged and disadvantaged classes. Due to this, migration creates unemployment and identity problems. Also, the rate of multiculturalism in the same city increases as people from different countries gather. As a result, extreme right-wing parties get an opportunity. They oppose globalization and speak of a closed economy, the preservation of their own culture, etc.

Immigration

One of the most prominent far-right political parties in Europe is anti-immigration. They tend to portray immigration negatively because of unemployment, the economic crisis, or cultural mixing. According to the theory of economic competition, native Germans compare their economic status with that of immigrants. These parties attract voters to the elections by capitalizing on the immigration policies of the current European governments. Germany’s Alternative for Germany campaigned against Angela Merkel’s immigration policies and derided Merkel as the refugee chancellor. According to a 2011 survey, 71% of Germans consider immigration a serious problem. Similarly, anti-immigration protests can be seen in Belgium. In this way, the radical right-wing party emerged by promoting the negative aspects of immigration.

Islamophobia

Protesters were holding anti-Islamic posters in what was initially described as an incident. European citizens think that Muslims are a problem for their country; Muslims are not loyal to the country. Also, there is a mismatch between Muslim culture and European culture. They think Muslims are dangerous to European countries and cultures and may cause their own culture to disappear. Anti-Muslim crime in England has risen by 42 percent in the past year. The same picture can be seen in other European countries, with France increasing by 53% in 2020 and Germany with 871 anti-Muslim crimes in 2019. The European radical right can easily increase its vote bank by spreading Islamophobia.

Homogeneous nationalism

Hitler’s nationalism in post-World War I Germany was German homogenous nationalism, in which minority Jews were persecuted. But today, the modern state does not run on the basis of nationalism; it runs on the basis of principles. E.g., equality is a principle; everyone will be equal to the state regardless of religion, caste, gender, etc. When the state adopts nationalism as its policy, minorities suffer discrimination. Homegrown nationalism is on the rise in Europe, fueling the rise of far-right parties. Radical right groups prioritize the philosopher Rousseau’s ‘will of all’, whereas modern liberal democracy prioritizes Rousseau’s ‘general will’ or the true will of all people. If this continues, the glory of Europe’s liberal democracy will become a thing of the past, the state will run on the basis of fake interest, and the will of the real people will be lost.

Conclusion

If you think about the rise of the right-wing parties in Europe today, the things that come to the fore very easily are people fed up and angry about inflation, unemployment, and immigration. They want protection from the established government at any cost and security of life. When it comes to addressing these issues, the left-wing parties have lost touch with these people and have largely failed, which is why they have turned to the right-wing. Only time will tell if the rise of the extreme right will bring welfare to Europe or give birth to a non-welfare state. Here, however, is the real question: whether those coming to power have the capacity to govern the country and whether it will be possible to introduce a stable system of government and establish a welfare state for all. In fact, the strengthening of the far-right in European politics has only just begun, and a mass awakening can be said to have been created. However, if you review the special reasons, the thing that can be clearly understood is that the rise of these extreme right-wings in Europe may not have been active in European politics 20 years ago, but for various reasons, the rise of these extreme right-wings may be called a big shock in European politics.

References :

1. MAHMOOD, MUHAMMAD. (2022, October 30). The rise of the Far Right in Europe. The Financial Express. https://thefinancialexpress.com.bd/views/views/the-rise-of-the-far-right-in-europe-1667055895

2. Koutsokosta, Efi. (2023, June 19). Why the far-right is increasingly getting into power across Europe. EuroNews. https://www.euronews.com/my-europe/2023/06/19/why-the-far-right-is-increasingly-getting-into-power-across-europe

3. Adler, Katya. (2023, June 30). Far-right parties on the rise across Europe. BBC News. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-66056375

4. Henley, Jon. (2023, June 30). How Europe’s far right is marching steadily into the mainstream. The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2023/jun/30/far-right-on-the-march-europe-growing-taste-for-control-and-order

5. Gosling, Tim. (2023, September 20). Nationalist, populist, far-right parties’ eye rising support across Europe. Aljazeera. https://www.aljazeera.com/features/2023/9/20/nationalist-populist-far-right-parties-eye-rising-support-across-europe

6. Edwards, Christian. (2023, July 22). Why are far-right parties on the march across Europe? CNN https://edition.cnn.com/2023/07/22/europe/europe-populism-far-right-extreme-intl-cmd/index.html

7. Jones, Owen. (2023, May 31). Across Europe, the far right is rising. That it seems normal is all the more terrifying. The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2023/may/31/across-europe-the-far-right-is-rising-that-it-seems-normal-is-all-the-more-terrifying

8. Casert, Raf. (2023, November 23). Europe’s far-right populists buoyed by Wilders’ win in Netherlands, hoping the best is yet to come. The Associated Press. https://apnews.com/article/eu-wilders-populist-farright-migration-muslims-netherlands-c8617a97a03011f98ed898ce863b579f

9. Lynch, Suzanne. (2023, June 30). Europe swings right — and reshapes the EU. Politico. https://www.politico.eu/article/far-right-giorgia-meloni-europe-swings-right-and-reshapes-the-eu/
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Md Tareq Hasan
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