Geert Wilders’ victory confirms upward trajectory of far right in Europe | The far right

Geert Wilders’ shock victory in the Dutch general election confirms the upward trajectory of Europe’s populist and far-right parties, which – with the occasional setback – are continuing their steady march into the mainstream.

There is no guarantee that Wilders, whose anti-Islam Party for Freedom (PVV) won 37 seats in Wednesday’s ballot – more than twice its 2021 total – will be able to form a government with a majority in the Netherlands’ 150-seat parliament.

Even if he can, the coalition process of endless compromise and concession by three, four or more parties means the most extreme parts of his manifesto, from banning the Qur’an to holding a Nexit referendum, are not about to become government policy.

But there is now a fair chance that a party shunned by the mainstream for more than a decade because of its radically nativist views could, some time next year, join the ranks of the far-right parties advancing across much of Europe.

Tom Van Grieken, of Vlaams Belang in Belgium, rushed to offer congratulations to fellow far-right leader Wilders. Photograph: Virginia Mayo/AP

From Helsinki to Rome and Berlin to Brussels, far-right parties are climbing steadily up the polls, shaping the policies of the mainstream right to reflect their nativist and populist platforms, and occupying select ministerial roles in coalition governments.

Giorgia Meloni, whose party has neofascist roots, heads Italy’s farthest-right government since the second world war. The far right is part of the ruling coalition in Finland and, in exchange for key policy concessions, propping up another in Sweden.

In Austria, the FPÖ is well ahead in the polls less than a year from the next election, while in Germany, the far-right AfD has surged from 10% to more than 21%, trailing only the centre-right CDU, and this year won its first district council elections.

If presidential elections were held today in France, polls suggest Marine Le Pen of the far-right National Rally – who scored a record 41.46% last time around – would win. Far-right Flemish nationalists are set to make big gains in the Belgian elections in June.

Little wonder that the continent’s far-right leaders, from Le Pen to Hungary’s Viktor Orbán, Italy’s Matteo Salvini, the AfD’s Alice Weidel and Vlaams Belang’s Tom Van Grieken, rushed on Wednesday night to proffer Wilders their congratulations.

Europe is waking up!

The Dutch right-wing victory put another conservative flag on the map. It shows that people want change. They want a return to normality and safety. And only a conservative shift can bring that change to Europe.

The time for that has come. We’re back! 🙌

— Balázs Orbán (@BalazsOrban_HU) November 23, 2023

The far right has suffered some setbacks this year: in Spain’s parliamentary election in July, Vox saw its vote share drop from the 15% it won in 2019 to 12%, slashing the number of seats it holds in parliament from 52 to 33.

In Poland, the ruling nationalist Law and Justice (PiS) party finished first in October elections but – while it is trying to form a majority – has no viable path to government after a three-way opposition alliance led by Donald Tusk won an overall majority.

But in Slovakia, Robert Fico – if not far right, certainly populist, and an avowed Orbán admirer – won September’s election, fulfilled his campaign promise to halt military aid to Ukraine, and has raised rule-of-law concerns with attacks on the press.

Continental analysts also cite Britain’s Conservatives as being under populist, far-right influence, noting the extreme nationalist sloganeering of the Brexit campaign and the government’s ferocious rhetoric on immigration and the “war on woke”.

skip past newsletter promotion

Sign up to Headlines Europe

A digest of the morning’s main headlines from the Europe edition emailed direct to you every week day

„,”newsletterId”:”headlines-europe”,”successDescription”:”A digest of the morning’s main headlines from the Europe edition emailed direct to you every week day”}” config=”{„renderingTarget”:”Web”,”darkModeAvailable”:false}”>Privacy Notice: Newsletters may contain info about charities, online ads, and content funded by outside parties. For more information see our Privacy Policy. We use Google reCaptcha to protect our website and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Analysts note that every far-right party is different, as are the cultures and political systems in which they operate. But across the continent, populist and far-right parties have been rising steadily – with the odd interruption – for several decades.

Giorgia Meloni.Giorgia Meloni, whose party has neofascist roots, heads Italy’s farthest-right government since the second world war. Photograph: snapshot/Future Image/B Elmenthaler/Shutterstock

A range of factors is driving their advance. For a long time, opposition to immigration, Islam and the EU were the far right’s core causes. More recently, culture wars, minority rights, and the climate crisis and the sacrifice needed to combat it have joined the list.

Their appeal has been further enhanced by a deep cost of living crisis flowing from pandemic recovery and Russia’s war on Ukraine, by rapid and confusing social and digital change, and – everywhere – by mounting mistrust of mainstream politicians.

Gradually, far-right parties have become normalised in a two-way process: as the centre right has adopted nativist talking points and been willing to cut coalition deals, far-right parties are moderating some of their more voter-repellent views.

Much of Europe’s centre right, for example, is now as hardline on immigration as the far right – while far-right parties are busy projecting economic discipline, dialling back on Euroscepticism and downplaying their past support for Russia.

Wilders, who surfed a wave of anti-immigration sentiment and frustration with successive mainstream coalitions to his victory, has himself softened his more hardline anti-Islam language, apparently in hopes of entering a coalition.

Whether or not he leads the Netherlands’ next government, his performance on Wednesday night is a reminder that, as the Guardian revealed in September, almost a third of Europeans now vote for populist, far-right or far-left parties.

Wide support for anti-establishment politics is continuing to surge across the continent – and, increasingly, challenging the mainstream.

Podobne wpisy

Dodaj komentarz

Twój adres e-mail nie zostanie opublikowany. Wymagane pola są oznaczone *