Anything to offer? Deciphering the far-right

With radical right politics gaining traction in Europe, Tom Hussey asks if these parties offer more rhetoric than substance.

Thomas Hussey
21st February 2017

The old adage ‘desperate times calls for desperate measures’ could not be more poignant in offering some reasoning behind this supposed insurgency of the Right-Wing in the UK, US and mainland Europe.

The rise in support for these parties is obvious, with immigration and unemployment being two issues which underpin Right-Wing support. Yet for me, I beg to question whether we really are at threat from these types of parties and are they even that Far-Right anyway? I feel the media (especially the BBC) has lulled us into a belief system where any political movement that doesn’t follow the left-wing rhetoric and agenda that the British media spouts can be seen as a Right-wing movement.

When you step back, don’t hop on this mindless bandwagon of political correctness and actually consider this supposed rise of the Right-Wing, the evidence is clear that the threat is actually pretty minimal. Yet, fear, as is the case in this country, is perpetuated by our skewing media.

In France, we see Marine Le Pen’s Front National; the right-wing, euro-skeptic, nationalist party which has acted as the frontrunner in this apparent surge in Right-Wing European politics. Yet, do I think she will win the French Presidential Election in the summer? No, I don’t. The French are institutionally left-wing, unions are their thing and in true French style protest voters will, in my opinion, vote in favour of Macron if the two were to face one another in the second round of voting. Maybe the French motto Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité may offer some solace to those in fear of this insurgency.

In Germany, the right-wing nationalist Alternative Für Deutschland hold no seats in the Bundestag, holding only 147 out of 1,855 seats in the 16 state parliaments, posing little threat. Geert Wilders’ Party For Freedom in the Netherlands hold only 12 out of 150 seats in the Dutch House of Representatives and the Greek Far-Right Golden Dawn party hold a mere 18 out of 300 seats in Parliament. When properly considered, this threat from the Right, if they even pose a threat to our way of life, is minimal. A+s for the UK, while there is clear evidence of a growing support for populist, Right-Wing parties (let’s not forget UKIP took 12.6% of the vote share in the 2015 general election with 3.88 million votes) it is clear that the UK is protected from a substantial takeover of the Far-Right through the first past the post electoral system which eliminates the mass takeover of Populist Right-Wing parties.

What must be remembered is that the strength of Populist Right-Wing parties comes in the fight and not in the delivery.

Populism is very idealistic, it puts up a fight and can only really be mobilised in times of desperation where it gains a mandate for its existence. Yet, put a Populist party in control where it is no longer the opposition and they will find it very challenging to deliver on the vague, ill thought out ideas and policies they have promised to their electorate and in turn will lose popularity.

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