Growth and Empowerment of Far-Right Parties in Europe: Causes and Consequences

Yasser Nooralivand

Evaluation of the votes received by the far-right nationalist parties in local and national elections as well as in the European Parliament elections, in recent years is an indication of a growing trend of these parties and shows that the far-right has returned from the margins to the political scene of the Europe.
While after the Second World War and as a result of the fear of the return of fascism and Nazism, support or membership in far-right parties in many European countries were considered as a taboo, today we see that in many European countries, far-right nationalist parties have enjoyed the ability to capture 10 to 35 percent of the votes.
Although the acceptability and current votes of far-right parties are not enough to give them the power to form a government on their own but the fact that these parties have managed to allocate considerable seats in the Parliament as the first, second or third parties in recent elections or to participate in forming coalition governments, they can be considered as a serious threat for the future of European integration as well as right or left moderate parties.
Although part of the current extreme right in Europe is of a Neo-Fascist or Neo-Nazi framework but contrary to the popular belief, the far-right mainstream in Europe has distanced itself from its origin as a result of an ideological shift and with denying the biological racism and instead focusing on culture and identity, is taking a different path than its Nazi and Fascist predecessors.
The re-growth of far-right nationalist parties in Europe is rooted in the socio-political developments affected by the trends related to the globalization of economy, multiculturalism as well as European integration during the later decades of the 20th century.
2008 economic crisis and the crisis of refugees and asylum seekers have acted as catalysts for the growth of these parties by demonstrating structural weaknesses of the European countries in the fields of economic and social policies.
Immigrants and asylum seekers, as the link and focal point of both trends namely globalization of the economy and multiculturalism in Europe, were used as the central concepts in the discourses of the far-right parties and in their planning as well as electoral campaigns, the socio-economic disorders in Western societies on the one hand and the way out of this situation on the other hand are articulated around those central concepts.
As a result of the vacuum created due to dissatisfaction, distrust and rejection of people toward the policies adopted by the left and right moderate political parties and their approaches in solving the said crises, the far-right parties have managed to introduce themselves as the sole anti-structural force and the only hope for the change in the European political landscape and as a result, gain an unprecedented popularity.
Increased xenophobic and anti-immigrant policies and approaches, increased violence towards immigrant minorities, weakened European integration with giving priority to the national interests as well as nationalism instead of transnationalism and the common European interests, instability of the European systems which are mainly based on the parties and party competitions along with the weakening of the coherence and effectiveness of the European governments, are considered among the consequences of far-right parties coming to power.
The inevitable consequence of nationalism in particular in its extremist form would be weakening of transnationalism; the European integration as well as the European unity. Hence, for the national interests of the Islamic Republic of Iran, facing with a divided and weakened Europe is much more desirable than dealing with an integrated, united and strong Europe.

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