A pan-European far right: an internal risk the EU cannot take

After the banking crisis and global recession came to the fore in 2007, analysts and commentators across Europe forecasted that the Euro would collapse, and that this would lead to the gradual collapse of the European Union itself. However, time has told that this is not the case. Despite relative success, the pan-European solidarity is facing its biggest internal threat.

This week, that threat became disturbingly realistic after the launch of a pan-European alliance of far right parties, spearheaded by the French National Front (‘Front National’) leader Marine Le Pen and the Dutch Freedom party  (‘Partij voor de Vrijheid’) leader Geert Wilders.

Of course, commentators are right to remind disillusioned European citizens of the rise in support of far right, anti-immigrant and anti-European sentiments; it was exacerbated by the recession in the 1930s, followed by chronic unemployment and awful living standards, and worsened further by the defeatist policies of austerity put forward by leaders of the day. It is precisely this defeatist, inactive attitude that the mainstream political parties need to resist in order to fix this far-right problem.

Le Pen has tried to hush and play down her party’s anti-Semitic reputation, whereas Wilders has taken the different tack of inspiring fear and antipathy towards Dutch Muslims. The common link is that these parties are fixated with the idea of a cosmopolitanist threat to national identity from the EU.

The French and Dutch counterparts are not alone – the same sentiments are echoed by other European far right parties such as the Danish ‘Dansk Folkeparti’, Swedish ‘Sverigedemokraterna’ and the Finnish ‘Vapauspuolue’ party, to name a few.

The only line these parties are not willing to cross is that of identifying with the openly neo-Nazi parties, such as the Greek ‘Golden Dawn’ (‘Χρυσή Αυγή’) party, to feign some amount of respectability. However, even Golden Dawn has received a small amount of sympathy itself in the form of ‘New Dawn’, essentially a British fan club and, similar to all far right organisations, focuses on immigration policy as a very wobbly, unilateral cornerstone to their politics.

Some polls suggest that the nationalists might win up to 33% of European parliament seats in elections in May 2014. Fortunately, that does mean that centre parties of the socialist, democratic and liberal ilk, will retain far more members. However, the European Parliament needs to remain a credible example of politically rational, pan-European solidarity; it might need to ensure that all of these parties, regardless of ideology, work much more closely together.

An observer cannot help but identify similarities with 1936, when the centre parties, especially in France, formed a hotchpotch and ineffective coalition to combat the far right. It is important to consider that history does not automatically repeat itself, but this risk is definitely not worth taking.

A personal worry is that the growth of right-wing nationalism in the UK will continue to cause a rise in mainstream Tories, and even Liberal Democrats and “Blue Labour” politicians, suggesting policies to pacify these anti-immigrant sentiments. For instance, the warning from David Blunkett, who claimed an influx of Roma immigrants would cause an “explosion” of backlash, strikes the listener as a regression to an Enoch Powell-esque atmosphere.

How can this rise of mainstream bigotry be combatted? Well, the socialists, liberals, and democrats of the UK desperately need to be proactive and realise a plan to combat economic stagnation, the increasing income and wealth gap, and the dip in living standards. But we need to fight fire with fire; a European initiative of the mainstream centre/left needs to band together to prevent the pan-European right from convincing Europeans that the simplistic, nationalist path is one worth taking.

Nevertheless, there is a decreasing window of opportunity, not only for the social democrats of Europe, but for any of those in the centre or on the left of the political spectrum, to counterbalance the popular drift to the right. If this proactive action isn’t taken, the rise of the far right might accelerate – and we all know (too well!) what appeasement achieves.

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Categories: International politics

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One Comment on “A pan-European far right: an internal risk the EU cannot take”

  1. AssemblyMan
    April 14, 2014 at 5:16 am #

    The problem is that Europe is dying demogrphically. Europeans will accept being assimilated out and multiracialism for so long. The left keep blaming “austerity”, but this opposition has been formenting for a LONG time.

    The issue for the left, is nor economics, but how they can convince Europeans to be assimilated out in a multiracial society. That is going to be an increasingly impossible task.

    The left just dont oppose the ethnic and racial destruction of the European types, only the far right do, and in the end, they will be the only ones who mention solutions to the European existential problem.

    The far left must acknowledge that a race of people wont accept self destruvtion. This is thier biggest flaw, and their refusal to address this issue means that a Europe in control of the far right is inevitable, and the longer it takes the far right to get power, the more drastic the solution. The coming ethnic and racial violence in Europe was inevitable the moment European leaders decided to go miultiracial. All else is history.

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