Our Readers' Opinions
May 30, 2014
Rise of ‘the Right’ in European backlash

For years, resentment has been mounting in Europe against what is perceived as the increasing power of the European Commission, simply identified as “Brussels,” as against the powers of the member states. European integration has been solidifying around the Commission as the seat of power in Brussels, as Europe seeks to consolidate as a huge block, so as to advance and protect its interests.{{more}}

The economic crisis which has affected countries all around the world has had devastating effects in some European countries, especially Greece, Spain and Portugal, but even the bigger economies, those of France and the United Kingdom, for instance, have been affected. Mass unemployment, unsustainable debt levels and economic regression have plagued the states of the European Union.

This has created fertile ground for the rise of nationalism and right-wing racist politics, just as the Great Depression of the thirties fuelled the rise of Hitler, Mussolini and the Fascists. One aspect of this has been hostility towards migrants, particularly those of colour.

The elections of last week for seats in the European Parliament reflected these trends. Openly far-right and racist parties, as well as hodge-podge gatherings of anti-EU politicians made massive gains in the elections. Previous European Parliaments have been dominated by two blocs, the centre-right group of the European Peoples Party and the Socialist bloc. They remain still the two largest blocs in the Parliament.

But they will have to contend with a whole new ball game. Take France for instance, where the openly racist and anti-immigrant National Front has won the largest share of the seats, unprecedented in French politics. In the UK, the United Kingdom Independence party, campaigning on a right-wing, anti-EU platform, but only slightly less openly racist, got the largest number of seats, relegating Labour and the Conservatives to second and third places respectively. Many other countries recorded such right-wing successes with Greece, long-suffering, while voting anti-EU, opting for a left-wing alternative.

The analysts are busy interpreting the results, but the rise of racism, demonstrated often in sport, and the opposition to immigration certainly reflects the difficulties that people of colour are going to face in Europe.

It is a most disturbing and frightening SIGN OF THE TIMES.