The rise of the far right in Europe

Recent times have witnessed massive immigration into Europe. Given America’s tumultuous history of immigration, some might argue that shifting sentiments in European politics were inevitable. The rise of anti-immigrant ideas raises crucial concerns for the future of business and politics.

While nationalist ideas were a recurring theme in politics across Europe, increasing levels of support for far-right groups in politics is something that has been witnessed recently. In many cases, these groups are effectively asserting themselves in domestic politics, with their radical ideas being shared and taken into account in the political discourse of the state.

In Germany, the Alternative for Germany (AfD) enjoys wide support. Recent events in German politics have been prompted by the far-right response to the restrictions imposed due to Covid-19. The far right has gained momentum in recent years and many have been involved in a discussion of the various factors that could be responsible for it. The AfD has also been associated with anti-immigrant activities and Islamophobic sentiments – recurring themes across a wide range of other far-right parties.

Other examples of far-right parties that have gained popular support in domestic politics across Europe include – the Swedish Democrats (SD) in Sweden, the Conservative People’s Party of Estonia (EKRE) in Estonia and the Finns Day (PF) in Finland.

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France attended a competition between Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen in its 2022 elections. The latter belongs to the National Gathering (RN) departed from France. The RN is a far-right party that opposes EU influence and immigration. Macron won the election with 58.5% of the vote – the required being 50%. The pen lost with 41.5% of the vote.

The rise of the RN in France, and that of other far-right and right-wing populist parties in Europe, demonstrates a pattern of changing opinions and political ideas. This change has often been attributed to large-scale immigration. Jean Marie Le Pen, the father of Marine Le Pen, who was president of the RN (then FN), had a long history of radical and racist statements, including anti-Muslim ideas and ideas akin to Holocaust denial. The RN in France has even sought to draw links between immigration and terrorism, mainly in an effort to mobilize support for its anti-immigration stance. Islamophobic views are a crucial aspect of far-right ideology and propaganda in many European countries, many of them, including the RN in France, actively opposing attempts at “Islamization”.

In Hungary, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has been in power since 2010. He belongs to the right-wing populist party Fidesz. His government has been described as reflecting authoritarian characteristics, with the regime opposing all alternative views and cultural “mixing”.

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The rise of far-right and right-wing populism could be linked to other related changes taking place across the world – particularly in Europe. While some changes can be attributed to massive immigration, they mark a new wave of nationalism for Europe and the world. The conflict, if it were to be characterized as such, is above all ideological. Throughout societies, one can observe marked divisions between those on the more ‘liberal’ side and those who actively oppose pluralism of any kind, namely the ‘social conservatives’. Such sentiments and ideas are perceived as opposing cultural and social pluralism. Modern structures and social processes are actively opposed by traditional ideas. The resulting domestic policy outcomes will determine the future of immigration to Europe and the future of the European economy as a whole.