The Far Right in Europe and the Eurozone Crisis II

As discussed in this post, it seems other news outlets have picked up the same story and are discussing out the right-wing populist parties all over Europe are now exploiting the crisis in order to legitimize their anti-immigrant and Islamophobic viewpoints–both of which are intertwined, as the perceived immigrant and Islamic threat are juxtaposed. The Economist published an article entitled, “Anti-EU Backlash: Beyond the Fringe,” in which it discusses the rise of these parties. Excerpts are below:

EUROPE HAS A dissonant new voice. Anti-Muslim, anti-elite, anti-globalisation and increasingly anti-Brussels, populists now count for something in the Nordic countries, among the Dutch and Flemish, in France, Italy and Austria, and in parts of eastern Europe. They come in many varieties, but all claim to represent what Pierre Poujade, France’s original post-war populist, called “the ripped-off, lied-to little people”…

Europe’s populists are not likely to form governments; they lack the votes and are completely unequipped for office. However, mainstream politicians do not know how to see them off. So their obsessions and their resentments have seeped into the debate, even among those who would never vote for them.

This matters just now for three reasons. First, because the euro and its independent central bank are elite projects par excellence. The high priests of Europe’s political class handed down the edict that Europe needed its own currency. They forced their economies to converge during the 1990s and masterminded the extravagantly complex job of issuing new notes and coins. Now that the technocrats have been shown up as bunglers, the anti-technocrats stand to gain. Second, populists are nationalists and protectionists and reject both the idea of paying to save Europe’s troubled periphery and the sort of structural reforms that Europe needs for growth. And third, populists feed the widespread mistrust of Brussels and all its works, which will constrain the options available to fix the euro…

A similar story is emerging across Europe, though the details differ. The True Finns are more Eurosceptic than anti-Muslim; the Danish People’s Party and the Sweden Democrats are obsessed by immigration; Italy’s Northern League is consumed by contempt for Naples and the feckless South, as well as immigrants and the EU; Belgium’s Vlaams Belang stands for Flemish independence; France’s National Front is being dragged away from its fascist, anti-Semitic past by Marine Le Pen; Hungary’s Jobbik has not even begun to change out of its jackboots…

Although the Economist article thoroughly covers the right wing parties, it is also worth viewing another great report on the same theme entitled, “Look Behind You, Lucas and Mario,” by Gideon Rachman for the Financial Times.

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