The Global Rise of the Far Right

김한영, 한유정l승인2017.03.06l수정2017.03.06 10:53l352호 1면

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▲ The inclination towards the far right is getting stronger in Europe. (Photo by Tomasz Woloszyn)

 The ‘Brexit’ win and Donald Trump’s victory in the US presidential election, has made it clear that the radical right is making a return and is gaining popularity around the world. Populism is on the rise in many European countries. According to research conducted on October, 2016 by ‘YouGov’, more than 50% of the population in Romania, France, Poland, the Netherlands and Finland support authoritarian populism: a political ideology whose beliefs include criticism of human rights, hostility towards the state, opposition to immigration and an enthusiasm for a strong defense and foreign policy.

 The terms far right or populist right, which include authoritarian populism, are used to refer to the range of extreme right-wing parties or political preferences that lean towards extreme conservatism and anti-socialism.

 The European far right is opposed to the European Union, which explains why many people think that their presence is rampant in the UK. In the US, one can definitely see signs that the far right is now running America. Before Donald Trump won the presidential election, there were so many people who thought he was crazy and laughed at him. But now, he has taken over as President of the US, leader of the Republican Party and the pseudo leader of far right extremism. Almost all of his campaign promises and actions since he took office, match up perfectly with the ideas of the far right. Since taking office, he has enacted an anti-muslim immigration order where people from specifically targeted predominately Muslim countries are not allowed to enter the USA.

 While this is only the beginning of the far-right control over policy in the US, the problem has been brewing all over Europe for a long time. With many important elections coming up in countries, such as Germany, France and the Netherlands, far right politicians in these nations are seeing a boost in their support.

 Dutch general elections for the 150 members of the House of Representatives will be held in the Netherlands on March 15, 2017. According to a recent survey, The Party for Freedom (PVV), led by Geert Wilder, is dominating the race. Their platform is based on leaving the EU and the leader’s pledges are arguably racist towards Muslims.

 In France, the first round of the 2017 French presidential election will be held on April 23. If no candidate wins a majority, a run-off election between the top two candidates will be held on May 7. Most of the press in France expects Marine Le Pen, President of the far-right party called National Front (FN), to be one of the top two candidates. Recently, she stated on record that she supports a Trump-style immigration policy.

 The next German federal election will be held on September 24, 2017. Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany, officially said that she is seeking a fourth term in office, but she also said an election victory is going to be quite hard. Most press agree her support is migrating to the Alternative for Germany (AfG), a far right party.

 So what happened that brought the world to this point? To answer this, The Dankook Herald interviewed Professor H. Schattle in the Department of Political Science and International Relations at Yonsei University. Professor Schattle said, “There are three main drivers of the recent turn to extreme right-wing political parties. One is a sense among many people that they have been shut out of the economic benefits of globalization. They think they have been harmed by global capitalism while a small number of elites gain the lion's share of the benefits.” Looking at the news we can see that supporters of the far right feel like it’s the only way for their countries to regain control over their destinies in the US, some Americans believe Donald Trump is the key to making America great again.

 The second driving force he pointed out was immigration. He said, “Immigration has created more diverse societies than ever before in many countries. These immigrant populations unfortunately become easy targets for unhappy, sometimes closed-minded white populations and the politicians seeking to gain their votes.” As a clear example of this, according to a BBC report, the British voted for Brexit because of the incorrect belief that immigrants were the reason their lives were harder. They believed immigrants caused many problems such as high unemployment, an increased welfare burden, rising home prices and the ever-expanding gap between the rich and the poor. Far-right party leader Nigel Farage of the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP), proposed a bill which rationalizes discrimination against foreign workers. Furthermore, the Dutch also think their economic degeneration is due to immigrants. According to the National Statistical Office of the Netherlands, the rate of immigration has increased to 1.2% in 2012 compared to 0.4% in 2004. Although the number of immigrants is not that many, the Dutch complain that they can’t get a job or even compete against them because immigrants are willing to take low wage jobs, driving the pay rates down, especially at construction sites.

 A third compelling force is the rise of social media platforms. Professor Schattle said, “They have the effect of creating 'echo chambers' that fragment the public into smaller, like-minded groups, who only follow media coverage that reflects the points of view they already have. This leaves many citizens less willing than before to take the time to listen to, let alone, build up empathy for people with different perspectives than their own.”

 Thus, there is no doubt that the inclination towards the far right is getting stronger in Europe after Brexit and Donald’s Trump’s win in the US. There are many examples of far right movements in history such as Fascism in Italy, Nazism in Germany and Stalinism in the Soviet Union, but the things we have to pay attention to today, unlike the past, are that most countries are heavily dependent on each other, they are already wrapped up in globalization, military powers are much stronger than ever before and voters who lean towards extreme conservatism are rapidly increasing along with right-wing politicians. Therefore, the dangers surrounding todays rise of the far right are further reaching and more powerful than before. All of us need to be on the alert with regards to this trend and take the time to remember what values are important, for the good of all humankind.


김한영, 한유정  dankookherald@gmail.com
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