The Ugly Rise of Europe’s Far-Right

In a by-election in Brignoles, a south-eastern town in France, the far-right Front National (FN) led by Marine Le Pen won with 53.9% of the vote. A poll commissioned by a French news magazine asking French voters how they will cast their ballots in next year’s European elections shows the Front National on top with twenty-four per cent of the vote. A pollster has commented that ‘For the first time in a poll on voting intentions in an election of a national character, the FN is clearly ahead’.  The support for Front National is also mirrored in other European countries.  The far-right in Austria, Bulgaria, Poland and Austria are also high in the opinion polls with the Neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn now being the third biggest party in Greece. This therefore, is a very worrying time in European politics. In the months leading up to the 2014 European elections, immigration will be the most important factor and therefore at the heart of European politics.

How can Europe tackle this serious problem?  What many officials do not want to acknowledge is that the civil war in Syria will heavily impact Europe. Thousands of people from Syria and other unstable African countries look at Europe as a way of escaping the conflicts in their own country.  As a BBC journalist says ‘Whatever Europe decides it is clear that a significant number of desperate people will risk everything to come to Europe. They will not be deterred’.  It shows therefore, that there are no easy options tackle the issue. There have been rumours that Le Pen is in talks with Geert Wilder, a far-right politician from the Netherlands to form a far-right group within the European Parliament. Even the more moderate politicians in Europe fear the rising support for these parties. The Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta has said that ‘the most anti-European Parliament ever’ could emerge from May’s elections.

However, there could be some slightly positive news. Analysts have argued that the Front National victory in Brignoles was simply a protest vote against the two main parties and that there is no reflection of deepening support for the far-right. Despite this, politicians from the moderate parties across Europe are going to have to quickly win back support before May 2014. If they fail, the far-right could make more dangerous gains across the whole of Europe.

Ben Callaghan

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