Saturday, November 9, 2013

In Europe, the Right Wing Surges

As Europe's mainstream politicians continue to dither and cut budgets while unemployment soars and hope collapses, more and more people are turning to right wing parties:
All over, established political forces are losing ground to politicians whom they scorn as fear-mongering populists. In France, according to a recent opinion poll, the far-right National Front has become the country’s most popular party. In other countries — Austria, Britain, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Finland and the Netherlands — disruptive upstart groups are on a roll. . . .
As in France, the right wing Danish People's Party now polls ahead of all others, and they may well win the upcoming elections for seats in the European Parliament.

These parties mix issues we think of as right wing, such as cracking down on criminals and opposition to immigration, with very strong support for workers' rights and the social safety net:
The platform of France’s National Front promotes traditional right-wing causes like law and order and tight controls on immigration but reads in parts like a leftist manifesto. It accuses “big bosses” of promoting open borders so they can import cheap labor to drive down wages. It rails against globalization as a threat to French language and culture, and it opposes any rise in the retirement age or cuts in pensions.

Similarly, in the Netherlands, Geert Wilders, the anti-Islam leader of the Party for Freedom, has mixed attacks on immigration with promises to defend welfare entitlements. “He is the only one who says we don’t have to cut anything,” said Chris Aalberts, a scholar at Erasmus University in Rotterdam and author of a book based on interviews with Mr. Wilders’s supporters. “This is a popular message.”

Mr. Wilders, who has police protection because of death threats from Muslim extremists, is best known for his attacks on Islam and demands that the Quran be banned. These issues, Mr. Aalberts said, “are not a big vote winner,” but they help set him apart from deeply unpopular centrist politicians who talk mainly about budget cuts. The success of populist parties, Mr. Aalberts added, “is more about the collapse of the center than the attractiveness of the alternatives.”
So if you ever wondered why certain American conservatives are so fiercely devoted to Medicare, well, it is a worldwide thing. I think it rests ultimately on defending "us" -- hard-working Christian native born people -- against "them" -- foreigners, Muslims, international businessmen, corrupt politicians.

If the pompous suits running the EU don't wise up and do something dramatic to put people back to work, these parties are going to start winning elections and shaking the system to its foundations.

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