The dynamics of the extreme right in Europe and the example of France

the dynamics of the extreme right in Europe and the example of France


The continued success of the far right in Europe is not a simple phenomenon. However, in recent years this success can be largely attributed to the successive crises that have hit the continent, such as the economic and refugee crisis, the COVID pandemic and the war in Ukraine. These crises have caused price rises, political tensions, frustration and anger. The EU's energy transition policies have also caused discontent due to high costs, recently causing numerous protests by farmers denouncing a "punitive environmentalism". All this anger has been channeled and absorbed by far-right parties through a simple strategy: offering simple solutions to complex problems, based on the targeting, often of foreigners and various minorities, while the traditional governing parties try to to find solutions and to convince citizens who are becoming more and more suspicious.

By thus focusing on the public discussion on these issues, the European extreme right takes advantage of the general insecurities of citizens to win elections and gradually come to power, influencing even the EU level.

In this context, the case of France causes particular concern. The National Front and Reconquête, two far-right parties, achieved a historic result by garnering 37% of the vote, more than double the result of Macron's ruling party, which received only 15%. This crushing defeat prompted President Macron to dissolve the National Assembly for the first time since 1997, triggering early parliamentary elections. Characterized by many as a "crazy bet" or "suicide mission", this decision caused a political earthquake. Given the result of the far-right in the European elections, there is a high risk that we will see the National Front win a majority in the 2024 parliamentary elections, which would lead to a change of government, the ascent of Jordan Bardella as Prime Minister, and cooperation with President Macron.

At the European level, these national elections will have no direct impact on political dynamics or decision-making in Brussels. However, they have an obvious symbolic significance that should worry defenders of democracy and freedom across Europe. This historic success of the far right reflects a widespread phenomenon of the legitimization of the far right.

In France, in 2000, the qualification of the head of the National Front Jean-Marie Le Pen in the second round of the presidential elections caused a historic mobilization in favor of Jacques Chirac. Twenty-four years later, the trend is different and the vote for the extreme right has become more accepted by a large part of the population. This phenomenon of "de-demonization" of extreme right-wing ideas is not limited to France. In countries such as Austria, Italy, Hungary, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania and Bulgaria, far-right parties have gained strength in the last decade, bringing about a general shift of the political spectrum to the right. This is true in France with the Republicans, in Germany with the CDU and in the Netherlands with the VVD.

The challenge to European democracy is great and requires collective action to confront the rise of the far right and to preserve the fundamental values ​​of freedom and equality.

In this critical period for European democracy, the decisions to be made now will determine the future of the continent for decades to come.


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