Rise of the right in Europe

Most of the time, politics and elections in Europe are quite orderly and safe compared to many other parts of the world, where elections are sometimes not really elections, but a veneer covering over authoritarian and unequal politics. In Europe, electoral fraud and counting errors are rare and never really change the outcome of elections. Thus, Europeans can pride themselves on completely free and fair elections. Alas, recently a few elections have yielded “undesirable” results as shown by most democratic people, well, those who want changes and improvements within the existing political culture. Whether people are conservatives or social democrats, maybe even socialists, they think within the same culture and the same paradigm with a similar worldview and “Zeitgeist”.

In the Swedish general election on September 11 and the Italian general election on September 25 this year, the results were more dramatic than usual, and in Denmark similar changes occurred half a decade and a half ago. entire decade, especially when the far right got large proportions of votes so they could actually influence political agendas, not just talk. Major areas are still tougher policies, particularly in relation to law and order, and indeed immigration and refugee policies, reducing or blocking newcomers from afar to enter their country, targeting people from afar, including Muslims, more than others. The latter is not said, but it is often at the origin of many policies.

European countries know that they still have to give development aid, but not so that it changes the world economic order, just enough not to break it. Rightists say refugees should be helped in neighboring countries; they should not come to the West. These policies can be good if they are effectively followed, but they always lead to less assistance to refugees; ‘out of sight’ also means ‘out of mind’.

In Sweden, the Swedish Democrats (“Sverigedemokraterna”) won 20.5% of the vote in the recent parliamentary elections; in Italy, the Brothers of Italy (“Fratelli d’Italia”) did even better with 26.4% of the vote. Previously, right-wing parties have done well in other countries, in Hungary, Poland, France and the Netherlands, and even in other European countries. Sometimes right-wing populist parties have quite extreme views, other times they are just very conservative and use heavy-handed language. The latter also includes the UK, where newly elected Prime Minister Liz Truss (47) holds rather conservative views. But for her and for other right-wing politicians, it remains to be seen how much they will actually be able to implement.

Sweden’s right-wing party leader Jimmie Åkesson (43) will not become a minister in Sweden’s new cabinet because his party will only support Ulf Kristersson (58), the Prime Minister of the Conservative Party (“Moderaterna”) of outside, although it is the largest party on the side of the bourgeoisie. The reason for this is that the Swedish Democrats are still not entirely acceptable to all politicians, noting that the party had several new Nazi members at the time of its registration in 1988. Today the party distances itself from such relations, but it can’t be denied that from time to time members with such backgrounds are exposed, to the embarrassment of party chairman Åkesson whenever it happens.

In Italy, the leader of the Brothers of Italy, Giorgia Meloni (45), future Prime Minister, does not dispute the fact that her party has fascist links since Mussolini during the Second World War. It is not easy to say to what extent this should be understood concretely and what the members and electors of the Brothers of Italy mean by this. Young people, in particular, would probably use these concepts more lightly than older people. In Sweden, however, to admit that one has positive views on neo-Nazism or even Nazism would be unheard of, and it would be political suicide if politicians admitted it.

It should be noted that during World War II, Italy was ruled by the fascist Mussolini while Sweden remained neutral during the war and was not occupied by Nazi Germany like most European countries. were. But it was only in the second half of the war that Sweden distanced itself more clearly from Nazi Germany.

Sweden is a very orderly country and political correctness is important. It also means that there are many political issues that cannot be talked about in public, or if so, only things that are acceptable in content and form can be said. Politicians have to weigh their words more than in many other countries. In neighboring Denmark, politicians are more outspoken and direct, and even in Norway. Given that Sweden’s two political blocs, the social democratic and bourgeois sides, have been nearly tied in the last elections, including the recent one, it is important for all politicians not to antagonize the opposition too much since a few votes only decide whether the government will face votes of no confidence. Despite the political differences, Swedish politics is quite stable and secure, and even when it gets a little ‘turbulent’, that doesn’t really mean that level-headed Swedes are changing.

In Italy, a government only lasts a year or two; after that, a new cabinet is formed, which may only last a few more years, and then another government may take office, sometimes with a mixture of the same ministers. After World War II, Italy had 69 different governments; triple that of most European countries. In addition, Italy has a large number of political parties, currently six large ones and dozens of smaller ones. Thus, if an extremist group wishes to take control of the country, it is actually quite impossible because smaller or larger parties would join hands and vote against the takeover of such a group or coalition of groups. . The new government that Giorgia Meloni will form should not last long either. But it must be added that the Italian civil service and institutions are strong and that democracy is not only about central government and general elections.

Although two recent elections in Europe have given major support to right-wing parties, with a fifth or well over a quarter of the vote, it is also a fact that centrist and left-wing social democratic parties are still strong. In Sweden, the Social Democratic Labor Party is the largest party, with over 30% of the vote in the last election. In the other Nordic countries and in Germany, the social democrats lead the governments.

Generally, the right winds subsided, although they reappeared from time to time. The cause may be that centrist and left-wing parties have not renewed themselves quickly enough, and it is a fact that right-wing parties sometimes have attractive alternative policy proposals and use language that voters can relate to. identify more easily. It remains to be seen whether right-wing parties can solve the problems better than centre-left parties. After all, crime and immigration are not the only areas that need new policies. It is important that policies are long-term and inclusive, taking into account negative direct and indirect side effects and not making policy more confrontational. In the long term, the main problems in Europe and in the world are linked to the growth of inequalities. We must find policies that benefit all citizens, even the weakest.