Editorial: Far-Right Politics

It’s been a common trend around the world lately that far-right politicians are on the rise. In the United States, the Tea Party rose up almost instantly. In France, the Front National has taken a huge number of votes in the recent presidential election, even though the leader of the party (Marine Le Pen) wants to do things like retroactively expel immigrants. It even happens in less-influential countries in the world, with Hungary’s Jobbik party, which has been called “neo-fascist, anti-Semitic, and homophobic” winning elections throughout the country.

These political parties are relatively recent, too. The Tea Party had its first national, organised protest in 2009. The National Front has picked up in its number of followers greatly since Le Pen became the party leader in 2011. Jobbik was established in 2002, and it became Hungary’s third most popular political party in their 2009 elections.

This follows a pattern that we’ve seen throughout history many times before. In times of economic crisis, extremes polarise citizens at the expense of compromise in the middle. For example, after World War 1, when Germany was economically crippled by the Treaty of Versailles, Hitler was able to take power by playing on the angry sentiment of the people.

Currently, after the economic crisis in 2008 and still in a time of unstable economies, people are increasingly unhappy with their situations. As of 10 July 2012, Spain’s unemployment rate is 24.6% (the highest in Europe), and Greek unemployment is at 21.9% unemployment. Those numbers are indicative of the European economy, which has been on a decline since the Eurozone started getting tighter. The Eurozone’s strict financial rules are making people feel strangled, because economic plans for within their country are being shot down for not following the usual German-enforced austerity measures.

This pattern has been the same for decades: economic downturn, public anger, extremist political parties, then the economies start getting better, and everybody settles back down. So far, nothing too out of the ordinary has happened that warrants getting too concerned.