Views on the Eurozone crises, immigration, and Islam are all topics that have bolstered the far-right parties’ movements and ideas throughout Europe. Last year, Geert Wilders, a well-known politician in the Netherlands who holds toxic and virulent views towards Islam, has won 15% of Dutch votes. His intentions, according to the Guardian, are clear:
Wilders wants the European parliament abolished, Bulgaria and Romania kicked out of the EU, the mass deportation of immigrants from the Netherlands, and a minimum say for Brussels over Dutch policy.
His ideas are not unique. They are also consistent with the views held by the Lega Nord (Northern League) in Italy. According to the Economist:
the League’s anti-illegal immigration and anti-Islamic stance is popular. It is a Leaguer, the interior minister, Roberto Maroni, who has implemented Italy’s controversial policy of turning back migrants in the Mediterranean before they can apply for asylum. Islamophobia is rife in the League. Another minister, Roberto Calderoli, once walked a pig over land earmarked for the building of a mosque.
Yet the party’s xenophobia is in essence a by-product of Mr Bossi’s efforts to create a shared identity among the people he seeks to unite. “One way he does this is by setting up common enemies,” says Alessandro Trocino, co-author of a recent book on the League. “First, it was Italians from the south; then immigrants in general, now Muslims in particular.”
Marie La Pen, a far right leader in France, is not surprisingly also involved in the business of building political capital off of immigration issues and local resentment. Earlier this year, she visited Lampedusa to share her concerns regarding the influx of immigrants from North Africa. Pen echoed the sentiments of Lega Nord, in a manner that indicated she was attempting to build political unity in Europe over the issue of immigration, even as the European Union is faltering. A short video of her escapade in Lampedusa can be seen here:
In further analyzing these issues, an article entitled, “Europe’s next nightmare,” by Dani Rodrick for Al-Jazeera, discusses the increase of nationalism and xenophobia amongst far right parties as a result of the economic crises currently plaguing Europe. Excerpts are below:
As if the economic ramifications of a full-blown Greek default were not terrifying enough, the political consequences could be far worse. A chaotic eurozone breakup would cause irreparable damage to the European integration project, the central pillar of Europe’s political stability since World War II. It would destabilise not only the highly indebted European periphery, but also core countries such as France and Germany, which have been the architects of the project.
The nightmare scenario would also be a 1930s-style victory for political extremism. Fascism, Nazism, and communism were children of a backlash against globalisation that had been building since the end of the nineteenth century, feeding on the anxieties of groups that felt disenfranchised and threatened by expanding market forces and cosmopolitan elites…
As my Harvard colleague Jeff Frieden has written, this paved the path for two distinct forms of extremism. Faced with the choice between equity and economic integration, communists chose radical social reform and economic self-sufficiency. Faced with the choice between national assertion and globalism, fascists, Nazis, and nationalists chose nation-building…
Political movements of the extreme right have traditionally fed on anti-immigration sentiment. But the Greek, Irish, Portuguese and other bailouts, together with the euro’s troubles, have given them fresh ammunition. Their Euro-scepticism certainly appears to be vindicated by events. When Marine Le Pen was recently asked if she would unilaterally withdraw from the euro, she replied confidently: “When I am president, in a few months’ time, the eurozone probably won’t exist.”…