Nationalists and Populists (I)

Nationalists and Populists (I)

Written by Alfonso Elizondo



The political map of Europe and of the world in general is changing right now after many years of moderate bipartisanship. Now new parties are appearing in the political arena with increasingly polarized models and discourses. Above all, far-right populist parties have emerged with the common denominator of an ‘exclusionary nationalism’.



These parties grew by 15% in Western Europe and 11% in Eastern Europe between 2014 and 2018, so that some have gained parliamentary representation in the last elections in Germany, the Netherlands, Finland, Sweden, the Czech Republic, Norway, Bulgaria and Spain. Marine Le Pen in France and Norbert Hofer in Austria went to the second round of the presidential elections and were on the verge of winning them. In Italy Salvini’s Northern League managed to become part of the government through an agreement with the populist Five-Star Movement.



Meanwhile in Hungary and Poland the traditional right-wing parties became radicalized, resorted to a nationalist and anti-immigration discourse typical of the far right, and passed a series of laws that restrict migration flows. At the same time, beyond the European borders ultranationalist authoritarian leaders like Trump in the US, Russia’s Putin, Erdogan in Turkey, Duterte in the Philippines, Bolsonaro in Brazil and India’s Modi, are trying to restore a paradigm that never really existed. They associate their past with material success supposedly lost due to the entry of immigrants from inferior races and generate hate speech.


This false perception of a cultural threat is coupled with the individual concerns and anxieties that are linked to economic turmoil and labor unrest and that turn ‘others’ into the scapegoat for all the ills of society.



According to Jordi Vaquer, director of the Open Society Initiative for Europe Foundation, this reaction is very typical for mobilizing people and creating an atmosphere of paranoia. But this transfer of hatred is not a phenomenon that can be linked to the economy; it is something generated for the political purpose of building social hatred when it does not exist.