Far right anti-Islam parties are making sweeping gains in European elections…civil wars looming in multiple Euro nations?
enjoying a worrying surge of support on the back of the continent’s migrant crisis, a development that has been largely overlooked.
The rise of far-right parties in Europe — like the Front National in France or Golden Dawn in Greece — has been a major story over the last few years, but recent developments have received much less attention even though their gains have been more dramatic.
In several elections in the last month, radical parties to the right of Europe’s mainstream conservatives are gaining strength. Opinion polls in other countries paint the same picture.
Few people pay attention to Swiss elections, and most people can’t name the country’s political leaders. Since most major decisions go to referendums, either at the national or local level, there’s not quite as much for legislators to do. But this weekend the populist and right-wing Swiss People’s Party won 29.4% of the vote, the largest proportion ever, after a campaign that focused on migration. According to the BBC it is being referred to as a “rechtsrutsch,” or a slide to the right.
The Swiss People’s Party is perhaps known best internationally for its use of pretty openly racist posters.
In Austria, there’s been quiet momentum behind the far-right Freedom Party too. In late September, the party nudged the mainstream centre-left party out of second place in a state elections in Upper Austria. In 2010, one of the party’s slogans was “mehr mut für unser Wiener blut,” or “more courage for our Viennese blood.”
In Vienna earlier this month, the social democrats won 39% of the vote, holding onto control, but the Freedom Party were hot on their heels, pulling in 31%. The centre-left party has been in power in the city since the end of the Second World War, and there was genuine concern that they could lose in one of Europe’s cosmopolitan capital cities.
What’s more, all polls since May have shown the far-right party in the lead or drawn for the lead, some recent ones by as much as 10 percentage points.
Like Swiss federal elections, it’s reasonable to assume many people aren’t paying attention to Austrian regional elections. But the strength of the far right doesn’t end there.
In the Netherlands, Geert Wilders’PVV is 18 points ahead of the governing VVD in the latest polls. Marine Le Pen’s National Front leads in most polls in France. In Italy, Matteo Salvini’s Northern League is riding high.
In regional elections this year, it gained its best ever results in the five contested areas. In Veneto, the new Northern League governor immediately ordered the dissolution of migrant reception centres.
The parties have a less coherent view on economics, but share a eurosceptic and anti-migrant platform.
Salvini, Le Pen, Wilders and Christian-Stache (the leader of the Austrian Freedom Party) wrote an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal. Here’s a snippet:
The situation is completely out of control. Too many fortune seekers, too much illiteracy. Some of the migrants are refugees, but the majority come for economic reasons. Our European economies and social-protection systems cannot cope with this. The media prefer to focus on families and children, but their images cannot conceal that the asylum seekers flocking to Europe are predominantly young men. Many are unskilled …
The European Union has slowly been eroding Europe’s nation-states by gradually dismantling their sovereignty. It has robbed our countries of the right to conduct our own national asylum policies
The parties appeal to feelings of insecurity and instability, as well as a perception that control is being wrestled away from the institutions they know and understand, co-opted by distant and sneering cosmopolitan bureaucrats. Their way of life has been put under pressure and the people in charge basically don’t care.
Progressive Scandinavia isn’t exempt from the changes either. The Swedish Democrats surged to 3rd place in elections in September 2014, from
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