Support of far-right parties in Europe is increasing, causing severe problems.
Last month the right-wing populist Freedom party, came out on top in Austria’s first round of presidential elections with 35%. This is the latest and, unlikely the last, sign of the triumph of anti-immigrant party politics in Europe. Other examples are the Swiss People’s party and Law and Justice in Poland, which lately obtained the support of 29% and 38% respectively.
Occasionally, far-right parties have become excessively radical, touching the limits of neo-fascism, by promoting violence and using fascist symbols and gestures, such as Golden Dawn in Greece and Jobbik in Hungary. Even though Jobbik had organized unarmed, yet often violent patrols called “Hungarian Guard” in Roma neighborhoods (aiming to “defend” Hungarians), the coalition is currently polling third. Its Greek counterpart, Golden Dawn, continues to receive 7% of public support — even though its leader and many of its members were arrested and held in pretrial detention.
Ironically, the continent that suffered so much from the calamities inflicted by Nazis in Germany during World War II did not learn from its history and now resurrects their core ideas through various parties. How did such a paradox become reality?
The severe economic crisis has forced citizens to challenge traditional parties, which are considered responsible for the situation. This phenomenon combined with the surge of refugees into Europe has created the ideal circumstances for the disastrous movement towards the far-right.
Far-right parties create noteworthy problems
Members of Golden Dawn in Greece are responsible for numerous acts of violence, such as the murder of rapper Pavlos Fyssas. Golden Dawn, which has as a slogan ‘’Blood, Honour, Golden Dawn,’’ faces charges on trial including murder and essentially criminal racketeering. Such a party should not prevail.
Even the more moderate anti-immigration parties such as the Austrian Freedom party or the French National Front can create complications as their support intensifies and enter parliaments. For instance, they hinder any progress towards the refugee crisis and impact Europe’s ability to govern itself, even if these parties are not actually in power.
In France, the popularity of the National Front already makes it harder to resolve the refugee crisis and will surely toughen any post-Brexit negotiations.
Far-right parties promote xenophobia and especially Islamophobia across Europe
Politicians like Slovakia’s Robert Fico argue for defending a “Christian culture” against Muslims and foreigners. Their populist rhetoric influences mainstream parties towards more extreme positions and causes an open East-West rift.
Far-right leaders tend to refer to very rare incidents of certain criminal cases involved foreigners. Then, they generalize the situation and create a stereotype, that all foreigners are more inimical than the locals. For instance, in my home country Golden Dawn has been referring to some infrequent events in which refugees became violent as they were passing through Greece to enter Europe, using a slippery slope argument that all refugees are savage.
However, in reality this is inaccurate, as it is as possible for a local to commit a crime as for a foreigner. For instance, by looking at the data of the Paris attacks, during the November 13 attacks unsurprisingly the majority of the bombers were French nationals.
Through proper education and awareness of historical facts, the youth, the future generation voters, can value the consequences of associations with far-right parties, as historically it has brought only catastrophes. By understanding that such political parties undermine human rights, voters could avoid being influenced by the populist rhetoric of the far-right and seek alternative political homes and healthier options.