“A Spectre is haunting Europe – the Spectre of Nationalism”
I’m pretty sure that it wasn’t this way Marx started his famous book “The Communist Manifesto”, in 1848, however I’m pretty sure it reassembles today’s Europe. Now and then we hear about how Far Right parties have become more and more accepted and somehow desired by the people, in some countries they even have become the most voted party on opinion polls, I’m talking of Netherlands for example with Geert Wilders [i], Marine Le Pen in France [ii], the last presidential elections in Austria (which might have a second round)[iii] and ultimately the impact UKIP had on the Brexit vote[iv].
The question remains, “Why is Europe turning to Far Right?”
We can explain this situation by looking at the degeneration of the traditional parties that is shared in many countries of Europe and second the growing euroscepticism in Europe.
I believe it’s common sense and known by most people that since the 80’s traditional parties have changed their priorities and forgot their foundation basis, not only ideologically speaking but also in terms of policy goals.
We no longer have the party that fought for the creation of NHS, the party that was behind the safety work laws along other social conquers, we now have parties that are changing a few things, not structurally speaking or reform the system, let’s say one is more social liberal than the other, one is more pro welfare state but the difference is quite small which leads to a vicious cycle of alternation and no concrete solution. This has been the case since the 80’s in many European countries due to the neoliberalism, which has been taken away ideology from the policy making process making it strictly technocratic, traditional parties have now become degraded and less keen to the people.[i]
Second the growing euroscepticism in Europe. It’s now known, especially after the Brexit, that some state members are now very much upset with the current EU and some see it as a huge anti-democratic union that favours the big countries against the poor countries (more specifically the countries of the Mediterranean) or a bureaucratic establishment that favours lobbyists and big corporations at the expense of hard working people. One thing that is said quite often is the fact that the people elect neither the European Commission President nor its members, and besides all integration the EU is still unequal and asymmetric and allows a growing disparity in development between state members.
But, would the 28 (soon 27) state members of the EU be as rich as they are today if they didn’t join the EU? Would we have a long time of prosperity and peace in Europe if it weren’t for the EU? Wouldn’t countries like Portugal and Greece still be far behind if it wasn’t for the help from the EU? Yes EU needs to change but I guess EU deserves a lot more credit than it’s given…
All these arguments fuel the popularity of populist and Far Right parties along Europe, rhetoric of “Beating the Machine”, “Bringing down the Establishment” “Take back our country” is constantly repeated and starts to get into people’s minds as something that seems to be reasonable and affects their daily life’s.
The old fascist and xenophobic parties, as the National Front, are now part of the mainstream politics they are no longer seen for what they represented and still represent, a fascist anti-immigration party that deprives people of their liberties. They along with other European far right parties are now, as Paul Mason said, dressed up in suits[ii]. They have now for some people become “moderate” and forgot the old extreme policies, which leads to some appeal from the moderate voters, which are often called the “Reluctant radical”.
“Dressed up in suits making the world a better place” for the hard working class that is poor because of the EU establishment, the globalized world that these parties attack constantly or the immigrants. Yes Globalization has made it harder for companies to survive and workers to maintain their job due to the increased competition in the world, however the EU is a huge market and has been in its past battling for workers rights and Social rights.
Exiting the EU will not mean being able of what they have been able to do all this time, exiting the EU will mean being able to do the opposite back tracking on working conditions, Welfare state and Social rights something that moves these same parties.
Brexit has happened which lead to an increased popularity of these parties.
Yes they are the same as they were in the past and they don’t seem to be going anywhere, it’s up to us to fight the xenophobic and fascist politics as our EU founders wanted us to do it by creating the EU.
I’s time to change EU and once and for all to fight the disease of Nationalism before we can see an other Exit or even worst the EU disintegration…
Luís Carvalho, Economics Student
Disclaimer: This Post reflects solely the author’s opinion and do not represent the platform as a whole