Europe’s Right-Wing Swing
Over the last decade, center-left politics dominated Western Europe. Whether in the form of Prime Minister Tony Blair’s “third way,” New Labor administration in Britain or the more traditional left-wing Socialist-led government in France, social democracy reigned supreme in many European countries.
Four years ago, center-left parties held power in 13 of the 15 European Union countries. But since the dawn of the new millennium there has been a change in attitudes among voters across democratic Europe. The tide of European politics is rolling to the right.
With growing fears of terrorism and worldwide economic recession, right-wing political parties stressing law and order and stricter controls on trade and immigration are becoming increasingly popular across Europe.
In one of the most remarkable examples, Bavarian premier Edmund Stoiber, campaigning vigorously on the issues of domestic and economic security, is ahead in the race for chancellor against the present German chancellor, Gerhard Schröder of the Social Democrats.
Michael Schaaf, a leader of the young Social Democrats in Hamburg, says the leftists must respond more effectively to the issues at hand. “Europe is heading rightward, without question,” he said. “Social Democrats in Europe have to change,” either moving more to the center-right on all issues, or rededicating themselves to providing more jobs and even better security (New York Times, Jan. 30).
According to the Japan Times, “The question is whether the new left can re-invent itself for the new century and whether the right can steel itself to introduce structural reforms” (Jan. 21).
Not Only in Germany
Besides Germany, several other nations are experiencing a rightist revival.
In Austria, there exists a ruling coalition between conservatives and the Freedom Party, whose Jörg Haider has praised some of Adolf Hitler’s policies. (For example, he has lauded Hitler’s employment policies and called the Nazi concentration camps mere “detention units.”)
A center-right coalition is currently in power in Belgium, while the far-right Vlaams Blok party is gaining ground, currently holding about 15.5 percent of the seats in parliament and controlling two of the country’s biggest cities.
The Social Democrats of Denmark were thrown out by a center-right coalition last November, with the populist anti-immigrant People’s Party doubling its number of seats and becoming the country’s third-largest political party.
In Europe’s other big election this year, France saw a surprise upset in the first round on April 21 when extreme-right leader Jean-Marie Le Pen took second place, elbowing Socialist Prime Minister Lionel Jospin out of the race. That leaves the front-runners in the election as center-right Jacques Chirac (who received 19.7 percent of the vote) and far-right Le Pen (with 17 percent). Another far-right presidential candidate, Bruno Megret, received nearly 2.4 percent of the vote, which meant that, together with Le Pen, the extreme right garnered almost as many votes as Chirac.
The support for Le Pen and his National Front Party came as a result of his strong standing for law and order—and against immigration. Le Pen has been accused of neo-fascism and racism. In 1987, he made an offensive pun about gas ovens and described the Nazi death camps as a mere “detail of history.” Despite his xenophobia, Le Pen’s ultra-hardline policies have seen his party become one of the largest in the country.
With the center-left Jospin out of the race, it is almost certain now that Chirac will win the presidency. Then, with legislative elections in June, parliament is expected to gain a center-right majority, with a strong contingent also coming from the extreme right.
In Ireland, the center-right coalition currently in power is likely to be reelected this month (May); other Irish rightist contenders are currently gaining ground, according to local polls.
The right has come back into power in Italy as well. Silvio Berlusconi, the billionaire Italian prime minister, beat the center-left in last year’s elections. His right-wing coalition, which has elements descended from Benito Mussolini, including Mussolini’s fascist-sympathizing granddaughter Alessandra, is against immigration, has shown coolness toward the euro and has resisted EU integration. Gianfranco Fini, deputy prime minister and National Alliance leader, has led a fascist party in the past. He once called Mussolini “the greatest statesman of the century.”
In the Netherlands, the right has received some recent attention. A new party called Leefbaar Nederland, or “Livable Netherlands,” has also suddenly emerged on the right wing of the national stage. The party, sharply critical of immigration, has attracted important media personalities. Its leader is a former Marxist. The party seeks more support and autonomy for the police.
Norway’s socialist Labor Party suffered its biggest defeat in four decades last September to a center-right coalition, which is supported by the populist, anti-immigration, far-right Progress Party.
In Portugal, March elections brought into power Jose Durao Barroso of the Social Democrats, the main party of the center-right. He now heads a center-right coalition, which has taken office after seven years of rule by the Socialist Party.
In Spain, Jose Maria Aznar’s center-right Popular Party recently secured a historic second term. His right-wingers have been given more power than they have had since the death of dictator Generalissimo Francisco Franco (Hitler’s ally during wwii) in 1975.
The signs of the times in Europe are becoming clear for all to see. Europe’s right-wing swing is but one symptom of widespread resurgent nationalism!
With economic and security concerns worrying Europeans, there are strong feelings of national sentiment in Europe right now. Those politicians who appeal to these sensitive feelings of the masses are beginning to get the votes. The big parties are worried; they wonder now if they should change their tune and begin to act more nationalistic. This flies in the face of the agenda of the European Union, which seeks to sacrifice national sovereignty on the altar of federalism.
What will be the long-term outcome of this right-wing swing? Bible prophecy indicates where this trend is leading. Whether we realize it or not, the Holy Roman Empire—the “Fourth Reich”—is now rising in Europe. So says your Bible!
Keep a close eye on trends within European politics. The stage is rapidly being set for a nightmarish repeat of the dark days of the last world war.