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  The European New Right: high time to ring the alarm!

Vadim Volovoj, Doctor in Political Sciences
2011 09 05

The tragic events in Norway require to take a closer look at the extreme right-wing parties and movements in Europe which are becoming increasingly popular. The success of Jorg Haider’s Party for Freedom in the 2008 Austrian Parliamentary elections and 2009 elections to the European Parliament (EP) when the extreme right-wing parties won about 7-8 percent of seats sparked European-wide resonance. During the 2011 parliamentary elections in Finland the party The True Finns have made big gains and this is not a single  case: the French National Front demonstrated the power in regional elections of 2010, the British National Party (BNP) won two seats in the EP, The Northern League was established in Italy, The Flemish Interest in Belgium etc.

What is behind the success of the far-right parties? The main reasons are related to the lack of an explicit European identity. The EU found itself in the trap of unlimited human rights, tolerance and ideology of social security. For instance, we can understand the French who are annoyed with the numerous lazy immigrants living at the expense of the French and daring to burn their cars. Secondly, in their programs the right parties are not afraid to say things usually concealed by traditional parties which consequently loose their positions.  According to Philip Claeys, a member of the European Parliament and a representative of the Flemish Interest party, traditional parties are similar to each other, they don’t want to see the problems of largest European cities, such as immigration, growth of extremism and criminality, whereas the national parties do address the above problems.

Wolfgang Kapust from German public broadcaster WDR said that ”extreme Right-wing parties remain protest parties incapable of joining coalitions”, but the Right-wing in Europe has similarities providing a strong background for their integration. Programs of the right-wing parties include the following three main aspects (based on the statements of their leaders):

1. Practically all the parties address migration issues. According to the Right-wing parties, immigrants take jobs away from local residents and “eat up” social benefits. The Muslims is a special group: they are not only reluctant to integrate into the European values network but try to impose Islamic traditions on European culture. Besides, subconsciously the majority of Europeans refer to the Arabs/Muslims as to potential terrorists. The current leader of the Austrian far-right Freedom Party Heinz-Christian Strache said that “a lot has changed in Europe’s society and religion. Europe has lost its soul, its will and its heart. Our main task is to return Europe’s soul and to retain our Europe for us, for our children and for their future”. Nick Griffin, the BNP leader noted: “we want to warn you that democracy in our country is now in serious danger. The source of this danger is European Union and mass immigration”. All the above shows that the new Right parties are not classical nationalists enthroning only their nations. They could be referred to as Europe’s nationalists defending European identity. At the same time the extreme Right parties are hard Euro-skeptics.

2. In the first place Right parties are worried about Europe’s reluctance to address  migration issues and islamization of Europe. Secondly, they say that EU doesn’t protect traditional Christian values (legalizes abortions and tolerates same gender sexual relationships). Thirdly, Right-wing parties don’t want to pay money to those who live beyond their income (e.g. Greece) and obey the dictatorship of the Brussels bureaucrats.  The purpose of the Right parties is to prevent from creating a European superstate. They are not against European solidarity (especially value and cultural solidarity), bet speak about the necessity to retain national independence in solving major local issues.

3. The new Right-wing parties criticize their governments for the insufficient attention to migration issues and Christian values, inability to tackle the economic and demographic crisis, corruption and for the attempts to restrict civil rights.

Traditional parties try to stop the increase of popularity of the far-right parties. But demonstrative ignorance towards these parties and the use of their slogans is of little help, since the new Right parties build their activity not only on beneficial conjuncture but also on quite a sophisticated ideology.

The latter parties emerged in 7th decade of the 20th century as a response to the increase of the Right-wing movement and the crisis of a traditional European social environment. The rhetoric of the current Right-wing parties is not identical to a theoretical discourse of the new Right-wing parties, but some proximity between the parties could be discerned. The main uniting element is the attention to the identity of European civilization. On the other hand, geopolitical strategy of the new Right-wing parties doesn’t comply with the practical policy of the Right speaking about Europe as an undivided geopolitical subject.

In summary we can say that far-right parties in the EU Member States is not a temporary phenomenon. Having borrowed several concepts from the dictionary of liberal democracy from the yesterday’s radicals they are turning into a dynamic political power providing answers to the most acute questions. What could be the consequences of the new Right-wing parties in power?

It is obvious that they will start from tightening the policy toward migrants, and this might result even in police “sweeps” and deportations. Secondly, this would stop the process of Europe’s federalization. Thirdly, further expansion of the EU is possible, but we’ll have to forget Turkey’s membership in the EU. Fourthly, assistance to poor countries should decrease, but then the single EU economic space and Euro zone might be in danger. But the Right-wing parties support the recovery of the national currencies, thus they will not be afraid of such an order of events.

Thanks God, so far this is only a hypothetic perspective. Nevertheless, we cannot relax. It is good that the new Right-wing parties identify painful European problems, but the margin between the criticism and extremism is very tiny. Therefore the best way of cutting the ground under their feet would be to solve the appointed problems. Otherwise we might become witnesses of the emergence of more figures like Breiviks.

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