‏Is Populism Receding globally?

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.‬

Al Jundi

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