Will 2013 Be A Breakout Year For Europe’s Far-Right?

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economic-crisis-nazis-greeceSorry to ruin your day, but I’ve got some bad news. The next 11 months looks set to be another bleak year for the Eurozone economy with the continent’s economic peril more likely to worsened in the coming months than improve.

The news is a bitter blow to the European people, with now over 25 million in the continent put out of work since the crisis began. 2013 then will be not be a year of prosperity, but more austerity.

For many, this has set off alarm bells. There is a growing fear that Europe’s democracies are straining under the weight of its economically-vulnerable populations; and that another year of the economic downturn – and severe austerity measures – will be enough time to allow Europe’s growing far-right parties to truly break away from the periphery into the political mainstream.

None more so than Greece’s Golden Dawn who, in June, became Europe’s biggest far-right party, winning 18 seats in the Greek Parliament. The Hellenic Republic is far from alone however; Finland, the Netherlands, Hungary, Italy, Spain and France has seen substantial rise in support in the extreme right. Even parts of Britain flirted with idea with the election of two BNP MEPS in 2009. With creeping inflation, low growth and high unemployment, Europe has been portrayed as ripe for fascist picking.

Marine Le Pen’s Front National may have gained nearly one-in-five of votes in the 2012 elections, but her party still failed to make the second round of the election...
Marine Le Pen’s Front National may have gained nearly one-in-five of votes in the 2012 elections, but her party still failed to make the second round of the election…

Not so. While such support is undoubtedly troubling – as any parties with anti-immigrant, fascist, racist or Neo-Nazi agenda would be – Europe is far from a right-wing uprising. It is merely the growth of populism – the standard response to economic crises.

Indeed, let’s put a bit of content into it. Golden Dawn’s 18 seats were won with a minuscule percentage of 6.9% of the vote. This is despite the fact that Greece’s meltdown has been more severe in scale and duration than that of 1930s Germany. In fact, there was more a turn towards the left-wing Syriza party, who are now the major opposition party in the Greek government.

In France, Marine Le Pen’s Front National may have gained nearly one-in-five of votes in the 2012 elections, but her party still failed to make the second round of the election while Le Pen didn’t even win a seat. Elsewhere, Spain’s Espana 200 may be growing, but it still remains outside of national representation; whilst in the Northern European countries, the right-wing parties growth is based on Euro-scepticism more than xenophobia.

The belief that right-wing rhetoric will gain significant traction within the continent – based on the fact it did nearly 80 years ago – is wrong. It not only simplifies the unique historic situation of the 1930s and The Great Depression, but that of Europe today.

The threat of the extreme-right-has been thus been overstated. Certainly, it not by mere coincidence that the countries where the largest threat of extremism is in that of Greece and Spain, where the unemployment rate is ranked in the high twenty percentages, but the analogy of recession becoming extremism is far too easy. The belief that right-wing rhetoric will gain significant traction within the continent – based on the fact it did nearly 80 years ago – is thus wrong. It not only simplifies the unique historic situation of the 1930s and The Great Depression, but that of Europe today.

One thing’s for sure however; Europe will continue to face its most severe crisis since the organisation’s inception over a century ago. Will it face far-right challenges? Of course, but for now, they remain periphery murmurs in the background. Fix the European economy and most will shrink back into oblivion.

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Discussion9 Comments

  1. avatar

    “While such support is undoubtedly troubling – as any parties with anti-immigrant, fascist, racist or Neo-Nazi agenda would be”

    New Zealand, Australia, United States, Canada all deal ten times more harshly with both legal and illegal immigration, yet none of these countries is qualified as being fascistic. And I’m just talking about western countries. Saudi Arabia for instance: not even tourism visas…

    Why the fuck is having our borders wide open presented as being normal? Stop getting brainwashed, European countries are the only ones in the world to do that, and only since the 70s. This situation that is presented as being the norm, is in fact a total exception.

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    In august 2010, the BNP had 4,200 members. As of March the 5th the following year, the Cheshire scouts had 10,000 members. Do we fear the inexorable rise to power of the Cheshire scouts?

    Alexander James Green
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    This comment has confused me!

    Samuel Gilonis
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    Me too, this makes absolutely no sense… Fascists are bad, Cheshire scouts aren’t, I assume. If the Cheshire scouts were committed to white supremacy then yes, their ballooning numbers would be cause for concern.

    Luke Goodger
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    I think what Philip means is that the BNP are totally irrelevant to the majority of British. So yes they are bad, but a few votes more wont affect mainstream politics. Arguably it is said that the rise in far-right support pushes mainstream parties to commit to a more ‘right-wing’ stance, say on immigration. But as the first comment pointed out it is a legitimate worry of many voters. Well whether or not you agree there are some interesting stats here by IPSOS. http://www.ipsos-mori.com/researchpublications/researcharchive/1322/Asylum-Poll.aspx

    Alexander James Green
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    Not sure what this has to do with the original article though. Also don’t think the BNP are totally irrelevant to the majority of the British – of course they only have limited supported, but the existence of such parties should still not be ignored. (I clearly say, however, that I don’t see them or many of the other right-wing European parties as a major threat)

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    The article states an assumption that if the economy if fixed, the right wing will fade into near oblivion again. I’m posting in mid May, more than two months since the article and previous posts were written, and France is into a triple dip recession, Germany barely evading a recession, and the whole of Europe in stagnation. While a few in the US see this as a daring time for investment, the UK has seen a massive surge of local govt votes for UKIP, a party known for many shady links to the extreme right. There are no grounds for complacency here! There is an increasing chance that some EU nations may implode because the rest can’t support them anymore, and the best chance of peace will be EU peacekeeping forces on the streets of those nations, as has already been partially seen in Greece. If this causes rising tension, rather than keeping the peace, then further protectionism may result in all out war. Most of the continent has long forgotten where the centre ground, the moderate politcs, was. If it wants to avoid war, it must find that again, and stop looking for other people to blame for its own errors. It must relearn to live and let live, or people will be wondering when armies of thugs will come for them when some of their neighbours are removed. This will not accidentally happen out of nowhere, people need to see how it can develop and deliberately resist it. Do it now, if you want to succeed and avoid a catastrophe. Above all, don’t leave it to chance. If you don’t keep your power, whatever it is, it will be taken from you by force as times get harder.

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    As my last post was accepted (thankyou), and as the BBC have-your-say moderators have decided to prevent anyone saying what they think on either of today’s stories about Nigel Farage of UKIP getting into a bit of Faragy Bargy in Scotland, I’ll say a bit about that here, starting with my BBC HYS comment intended for their pages, if they ever allow any comments at all:

    “Farage is from a rich well educated background, trying to look like a ‘man of the people’. He is of foreign descent, and a well-paid member of EU government, trying to place Britons outside the EU where they will lose any benefits from it they do not pay for. He now derides loud nationalists who aren’t his own loud nationalists. Time Britons wake up to the hypocrisy and undo the damage they did.”

    About that Faragy Bargy, I allowed myself the indulgence having thought of that myself at about 04:4o this morning. 🙂 I realised the Sun newspaper could not have failed to think of this one, nor pass up an offer it clearly could not refuse, so I went looking online later. Turns out they did use it, and even spelled it the same. Not that there seems to be any other way to do it. 🙂

    Last but not least, I take Vincent’s point (first comment here) that borders in the UK are unusually lax, as are many in Europe, and this is a bad result from good intentions, and with the UK now overpopulated, this does need to change, but there’s a big difference between pragmatism, need, and the kind of divisive mob-driven politics we;re getting now. It’s bad enough to have a ruling elite that don’t give a damn, and seem to know even less about how to run a country, but it won’t be any better if people start screaming and shouting and making the same errors that Germany did in 1938. Britain presumably had several values it was proud to maintain, the last thing we should risk is becoming the monster our ancestors had to fight. A few years of slow living is a far better choice than being ruled by fear. It’s not as if we haven’t been through it before, it’s just going to take longer this time, and a bit more cautious risk to change, building on whatever we have that still works. The sooner we start doing that, the sooner we’ll get leaders worth electing to manage it on a bigger scale.

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    Is it fascist or nazi like to oppose sharia courts and honour killings? God, I must be really racist! I just want to live in country that doesn’t pander to everyone except its own people. Our borders are open and we are taken for a ride all the time while other countries laugh at our soft soft approach.

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