The Rise Of Europe’s Far Right

Published February 7, 2017
Updated February 10, 2017

In With The Old, Out With The EU

Bjoern Hoecke

Sean Gallup/Getty ImagesBjoern Hoecke, head of the AfD in Thuringia, speaks to supporters gathered to protest against the German government’s liberal policy towards taking in migrants and refugees on October 14, 2015 in Magdeburg, Germany.

One of the biggest issues that the new nationalist parties face is their countries’ membership in supranational organizations, especially the European Union. The EU has, with its policies and its structural defects, directly spawned more than a dozen oppositional “euroskeptic” parties across the continent, and voters are increasingly listening to what these parties have to say.

Euroskeptic objections to the European Union and its underlying ideology generally resolve into a few discrete points:

  • Immigration — which in euroskpectics’ eyes threatens to swamp historically white, Christian countries with nonwhite, Muslim newcomers who compete for jobs — strains generous welfare systems, and inflicts serious violent and sexual crimes on the public.
  • Globalization ships jobs away from high-cost economies and pits the historically well-paid workers of Western Europe against the desperate scab labor of the Third World.
  • Authoritarianism — which the EU seems to embrace by imposing laws from afar and without consent from the people affected — ignores and violates the sovereignty of EU member states.
  • Islam is in conflict with traditional Western values and has become an emotionally charged flashpoint between indigenous Europeans and immigrants from Africa and Asia.
  • Euroskeptic parties, such as Britain’s UK Independence Party (UKIP) and Germany’s Alternative For Germany (AfD), view leaving the EU as the one-shot solution to all of these evils.

    Other nationalist parties go further. The Swiss People’s Party – which enjoys 30 percent of the Swiss vote and currently leads the government – combines hostility to the EU with a larger agenda that includes conservatism, economic liberalism, and even agrarianism that verges on a Blood and Soil ethos.

    Richard Stockton
    Richard Stockton is a freelance science and technology writer from Sacramento, California.
    Savannah Cox
    Savannah Cox holds a Master's in International Affairs from The New School as well as a PhD from the University of California, Berkeley, and now serves as an Assistant Professor at the University of Sheffield. Her work as a writer has also appeared on DNAinfo.
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    Stockton, Richard. "The Rise Of Europe’s Far Right.", February 7, 2017, Accessed May 24, 2024.