The far-right populist parties, notably in Europe, shot to fame over the past few years which gave rise to far-right parties that scored high in the elections. A case in point is Italy’s 5 Star Movement which won 32% of votes in the 2018 parliamentary elections, thus joining the September 2019 government with 10 ministers. Another example is Swedish Democrats Party (SDP) which secured more than 17.6% of votes in the 2018 parliamentary elections. The far right “Alternative For Germany Party” joined the parliament for the first time in Germany after World War II after grabbing 12.6% of votes in the September 2017 elections. And despite losing the presidential elections in France in 2017 the far right National Front Party (NFP) secured 11 million votes, and NFP candidate Marie Le Pen won 33.9% of total votes. Furthermore, many European nations are being ruled by populist leaders such as Viktor Orban in Hungary, Yaroslave Katchinksy in Poland, Robert Vico in Slovakia, Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil and Donald Trump in the United States. And voting in favor of EU Brexit was the rightist populist current’s biggest victory on the European front.
The Far Right’s agenda is focused basically on hostility to immigration and foreigners, belief in nationalism, willingness to exit the European Union (EU), hardline against globalism and free trade and hostility to Muslims and the current political elite.
The May 2019 European parliament election saw the far right/populist parties surge in more than one country. Britain’s Brexit Party under Nigel Farage won 32.84% of votes, France’s National Front Party (NFP) won 23.31% against Emannuel Macron’s La Republique en March Party which secured 22.41%, Italy’s anti-EU League Party under Matteo Salvini won 3e3.64% of votes, and Hungary’s right-wing National Hungarian Party won 52.14%.
But rising far right populism in Europe and the west in general is faced with many challenges, notably:
Warnings against populism/populist parties’ threat to western democracy and world peace. Pope Francis of Vatican warned in August 2019 that the general trends of these parties reflect “war-inducing intellectual lock”, and their speeches are “similar to Hitler’s in 1943”.
Some European nations at public and official levels began to realize, and act against, the threat the far right-wing populism poses to western democracy. A notable example is Germany where the Minister of Interior told the Parliament in June 2019 that right-wing extremism “pose a great threat” to Germany. A September 2019 YouGov questionnaire showed 53% of respondents believe that democracy in Germany is threatened by the far right-wing”.
The far right-wing parties in the west failed to provide a satisfactory alternative to the current parties and classical elites. Instead, they offered emotional slogans that were initially supported by the grassroot, not out of conviction but out of opposition to the classical parties. In course of time, these slogans proved incapable of translating voters’ agenda, thus leading to gradual regression of right-wing parties.
This failure gave rise to other rival powers, like leftists, that could pull the mat from under the feet of the far right-wing parties during the forthcoming stage, in addition to protest movements, notably the Yellow Jackets Movement in France.
The public ratings and presence of far-right parties in the world have been dwindling over the past few years. Greece’s far-right Golden Dawn Party received a severe blow in the July 2019 parliamentary elections after failing to cross the 3% threshold leading to the Parliament, although it ranked third as mightiest power after 2015 elections.
In Austria’s 2019 elections the far right-wing “Freedom Party” grabbed 16% of votes, thus losing 10 points compared to 2017 elections. In Holland, the populist current had severe setback in the last European elections after Geert Wilder’s far-right Freedom Party failed to secure any seat, though it won 4 seats in the previous elections. Meanwhile, Holland’s far-right “Forum for Freedom” Party won 3 seats after winning the largest number of votes in the March 2019 local elections. In Denmark, the far-right Populist Party won only 8.7% of votes in the 2019 parliamentary elections, against more than 20% of votes in the previous elections.
This indicates that the populist trend, though with many successes in the past few years, is on a downhill course and could see more descent in the forthcoming years considering public awareness of the threat this trend may pose to security, democracy and social peace in the western societies. Nevertheless, this trend will somehow remain afloat as a political power.