Chaos of Dominant-Party Autocracy in Europe
Written by Alfonso Elizondo
Created on Friday, September 2, 2016, 14:08
With the election of the 751 deputies who make up the European Parliament (2014-2019) in May of this year, in addition to certain changes that will give more power to the Parliament, such as the amendment to the 2007 Treaty of Lisbon which modified the original EU treaty, a major change can be seen in the composition of the seven groups representing more than 160 national political parties of the 38 EU member states, most prominent among them being Germany with 96 deputies, France with 74, Italy with 73, UK with 73 and Poland 51.
Most notable in this new composition of the European Parliament has been the rise of far-right parties and neo-Nazis coming from radical parties in France, Germany, Hungary, UK, Austria, Poland and Greece. These parties are racist and are calling for the expulsion of foreigners and a halt to EU integration.
Although the rise of the far right was apparent for more than two years, because of the deep feelings that emerged in the population following the great economic and social crisis that started in 2008, what is actually happening in Europe is high unemployment and economic stagflation, since in the EU countries, with the exception of Germany, there is no significant economic progress. This situation has generated a growing fear of the anti-EU parties which are a threat to the economic and social order established after WWII.
Most European nations, however, show indifference to these far-right parties who feel proud of their racial hatred and there are even governments that protect and encourage racism, as in the case of the National Front in France led by Marine le Penn and its counterpart in the Netherlands led by Geert Wilders, who are openly fighting against immigration and European integration. Moreover, in France there has been an increase in anti-Semitic acts, which is a response to the more than five million Muslims living in France.
According to Professor Erik Cohen of the University of Berlin, in a very recent interview with Jews between the ages of 18 and 40, 33% of them are looking for ways to flee from France to Israel, as attacks on French Jews have become routine. Although the French government implemented a program to combat racism and anti-Semitism through educational institutions, according to the latest surveys in France and Israel, 85% of Jews believe that the French government supports Palestine and 86% see the French as anti-Semitic.
There is a political scenario in Europe that shows that far-right parties are managing to co-opt groups of people who think the current party leaders do not have the ability to solve their domestic problems. It is therefore expected that the dominant parties in the European Parliament will try to block the irrational initiatives of the populist parties and to maintain their political and social model that emerged from the Second World War, which is not able to deal with the economic crisis and other current supranational problems, such as terrorism, immigration, xenophobia and all the tensions arising from popular myths and radical religious beliefs.
According to data from the BBC, supported by Bloomberg, the parties opposed to the influx of immigrants, the advance of ISIS in Europe and the surrender of national sovereignty to the EU are finding strong popular support, added to which is the disillusionment with the traditional ‘establishment’ politician. It is something similar to what is happening now in the United States.
This was reflected in the collapse of the traditional center-left and center-right parties that have held the presidency of Austria since the end of WWII. According Katia Adler, who has been a BBC correspondent in Vienna for 30 years, she attended the march against Haider, when he was running for president, with tens of thousands of people crowded into the central square in Vienna shouting ‘never again’. But now, 16 years later, the Freedom Party is once again a political player in Austria, although many think Hofer, the current president, is even more radical than Haider but knows how to hide it.
The current language used by Hofer, under the cornflower emblem that was the symbol of Nazi Germany in the 1930s, has resonated very strongly with the people due to the uneasiness created by the record number of asylum seekers, as has happened in other neighboring countries with the influx of Syrian immigrants. What is now happening in Austria is that populist right-wing organizations have re-emerged dramatically and are making themselves heard throughout the European Union.
Simply put, European far-right nationalism is present not only in Austria, which is the country with the largest far-right political force, but it also appears in other Western European countries: Democrats in Sweden, 13%; True Finns 18%; Danish People’s Party, 21%; Party for Freedom (Netherlands) 10%; National Front (France), 14%; Swiss People’s Party, 29%; Hobbit (Hungary) 21%; Golden Dawn (Greece) 7% Northern League (Italy), 4%.
The fundamental difference from the past is that these political issues were only linked with extreme right-wing populists, whereas they now form part of the general political debate. Consequently, it is now socially acceptable to question immigration, EU integration, the strength of the euro and all the leading political classes. In addition to this, there is the spread of skepticism and even open rejection of political parties and the traditional elites who have been in power since the end of WWII.
Addendum: The only thing that is clear in the midst of this political chaos in Europe is that a radical change is coming in the Western political, economic and social model, for the simple reason that the nation-state and dominant-party autocracy no longer works.