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As elections approach in Europe, where does the right-wing stand?

The far right appears to be striking a visible cord with sentiments of many EU citizens.

Written by Sharad Akavoor |
February 13, 2017 11:36:19 am
Elections in Europe, Europe right wing, United Kingdom Independence Party, Brexit, refugees in Europe, Europe news, Europe right wing parties, Europe right wing parties in elections, Europe refugee crisis, Europe latest news, European union, Politics in European union, European union Political parties, Politics in Germany and France, latest news Like Britain, several countries are looking at the economic benefits of a separation from the EU, which fits well with the ethnocentric beliefs that have given rise to the right-wing movement in Europe. (Source: Wikipedia)

The year 2016 saw crucial changes in global politics, starting with Donald Trump’s US presidential campaign and his eventual win as the US President to Brexit in the United Kingdom. Throughout these events, what many political observers believe, a sense of nationalistic pride and apprehensions of multiculturalism played a crucial role in the elevation of figures like Donald Trump and the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) across the Atlantic. But within a short period of time, and interestingly in the backdrop of the global refugee crisis, this trend has spread to more and more political spheres, especially in the previously believed progressive European nations such as France, Germany, Austria, Sweden and Finland.

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With the likes of France, Germany and the Netherlands heading to polls in the coming months, the outcome could have a major impact on the ever increasing skepticism regarding the role of the European Union, and more importantly on the direction in which global politics is heading to.

France’s Marine Le Pen and the Netherlands’ Geert Wilders are believed to be serious contenders with a considerable right-wing inclination, and who could come to power in the coming months. With victories for parties such as Le Pen’s National Front and Germany’s AfD, referendums along the lines of Brexit could be inevitable and might trigger the end of EU.

And in the age of the migrant crisis, these right-wing parties are looking to put an end to the existing open immigration policies and shake up the liberal world order.

But which are the countries that go into the elections and what impact could they have?

France votes for a new president in two rounds – first on April 23 and then on May 7. Netherlands goes to vote on March 15 while Germany in September.

In France, National Front’s (NF) Marine Le Pen and the Republicans’ Francois Fillon are the two in contention for the presidency. Thought both the right-wing politicians lead the race, many believe that En Marche’s Emmanuel Macron and the Socialist Party’s Benoit Hamon would make things tough for their opponents. With Fillon embroiled in a fraud case, his approval rating has come crashing down in recent weeks, which has opened up the presidential race which is set for a tight finish.

In Germany on the other hand, Angela Merkel will run for Chancellor for a fourth time. She has faced heavy criticism over her immigration policies, which has given sufficient impetus to anti-EU Alternative for Germany (AfD). AfD has so far made considerable gains in local elections; and with far-right Frauke Petry leading their campaign, a victory would mean not only strict border control rules and sanctions on immigrants, it would also see a referendum put up on Germany’s EU membership. Despite the criticism and the general mood across Europe following terror attacks, Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party leads most polls by a fair distance.

The Netherlands witnesses similar sentiments as well heading towards their elections in March, with Party for Freedom’s leader Geert Wilder singing the anti-EU, anti-immigration tunes that his far-right peers seem to be singing. But even though, polls suggest that Wilder’s Party for Freedom could claim more seats in the Dutch parliament, more than any other party, a coalition looks unlikely since most parties have backed out of working with him.

But how will it affect the EU and European politics?

With ‘euroskepticism’ becoming an ever-growing phenomenon across Europe, the right-wing has found a home in such an emotion. These movements across the continent are pushing for policies that could mean doom for the European Union. Like Britain, several countries are looking at the economic benefits of a separation from the EU, which fits well with the ethnocentric beliefs that have given rise to the right-wing movement in Europe.

Over in Italy, much like in the UK, the Five Star Movement (M5S) is leading the way for an exit from the EU. Following the December 2016 referendum, which prime minister Matteo Renzi had called for to bring in parliamentary reforms, the M5S has risen to the fore of Italian politics and has promised to hold a referendum on Italy’s EU membership.

However unstable the EU may be right now following Brexit, it could only get worse in the coming months if leaders like Marine Le Pen or Geert Wilder come to power in their respective countries. The sentiment against the idea of a European community is on the rise and could spell the end for EU.

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