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Europe's Migrant Crisis Is Uniting Far-Left with Far-Right

Right-wing parties in Europe are seeing a surge in support from formerly left-wing voters, while mainsteam parties rig the system to stop them

This post first appeared on Russia Insider

The author is the Director of the European Center for Geopolitical Analysis (Poland)

The growth in popularity of Europe’s right wing parties is related to the current migration wave. Even countries that have not yet faced the problem of migration from the Middle East and North Africa, particularly those of Eastern and Central Europe, are concerned that it could reach them as well. Support for far-right political parties is growing against the background of these fears, but we can hardly call them right wing, as they’ve been transformed.  

Earlier, Europe’s far-right parties were associated with anti-Communist and anti-Socialist movements, even with their support of the free markets and protests against taxation and social policy. Now that has changed. 

Parties such as the National Front in France and ‘Jobbik’ in Hungary are nationalist parties. They are against immigrants, but also Eurosceptic, strongly criticizing the European Union and its Eurocracy. ‘Jobbik’ in particular has a relatively left wing program supporting active state social and economic policies. That’s why it’s hard to identify them as ultra-right in the classic sense of the term. It would be more correct to call these parties nationalist . 

Their support is growing due to high levels of migration, lack of trust in the institutions of the European Union, but also due to certain drawbacks in their countries’ social and economic policy.  Another interesting fact is that surveys related to these parties’ electoral base show that the majority of National Front voters are former supporters of the Communist Party of France, and it’s the same in other countries: the ultra-xenophobic, nationalist party of Marian Kotleba the ‘People’s Party Our Slovakia’, whose base largely consists of left-wing voters, also had good electoral results recently.  However, there are European countries where it has been the opposite. For instance, the electoral base of the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia largely consists of the former electorate of the Czech Republican Party. 

This is a strange new phenomenon in Europe, where something of an ideological synthesis of left and ultra-right is happening, with protests that can hardly be identified with the classic political categories of ultra-left and ultra-right. 

In other words, we’re seeing a consolidation of radical forces, with growing support for slogans that are not so much ideological as protests. 

In many countries, the establishment response has been rhetoric and slogans. This happened in Denmark, to some extent in Great Britain, where David Cameron’s conservatives use slogans related to the referendum on the exit from the EU, which reflect UKIP, the party of the British euroseptic Nigel Farage. 

Another way for the establishment to defend itself against radical movements is by changing the voting system. Take France, for example. In the 1980’s, the National Front party became popular. In 1986, President François Mitterrand instituted a majority voting system. As a result, in spite of the fact that National Front party had about 20% of the votes at the parliamentary election, it got only three deputies. 

Similarly, UKIP has only one deputy in the United Kingdom, due to the majority voting system and single-member constituencies, although it got good results in the elections to the European Parliament where the proportional system is used.

The establishment and its system can respond to change by either adopting some of the slogans of radical parties and movements, or modifying the voting system. But if these parties and slogans are not present in public debates, if the radical parties are deprived of the possibility to legally win support and play their part in the political system, there can be serious consequences. 

These groups will grow, their political activity becoming extremist and even criminal. We’re seeing that process in Germany now, where movements are acting above the law, using violence as a means of political struggle.  This is a threat, that can’t be ignored. 

Source: Izvestia
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