Certainly they would be right in the case of two: Hungary’s Jobbik and Greece’s Golden Dawn, parties that embrace violence, anti-Semitism and National Socialist symbolism. They however appear to be blissfully unaware of the cordon sanitaire that has been placed on these parties than none other than the Geert Wilders-led “European Alliance for Freedom”, a group of six Western European nationalist parties (including Le Pen’s National Front) that are widely expected to do exceedingly well in May. I bear little ideological affinity for these nationalists (given their economic protectionism), but this decision seems to contradict the media’s claim that such parties pose a clear threat to liberal democracy and I believe they should be applauded for distancing themselves from the fringe. A look at their platforms reflects this – none advocate the deportation of legal immigrants or even a ban on new immigration (furthermore, some even express unorthodox stances on issues like gay marriage). They all favor common sense limits on the number of immigrants allowed to enter their respective nations from the European Union, which may be a little restrictive for my own tastes, but evidently does not amount to any true disdain for democratic ideals.
I can understand the case that critics make against these nationalists – in spite of their modernisation, many of them do have a dark history. Their criticisms do not stop at the EAF however, they tend to extend further still, to parties that exhibit no resemblance whatsoever to Hitler and his ilk.
Take the Alternative for Germany for example. It’s one of the many political parties that have recently been slapped with the “far-right” label. Its platform is rather moderate, calling for increased levels of immigration. It does not even call for outright secession from the EU, making it no more controversial than David Cameron. Similarly, Finland’s centrist Finns Party has also backed guest worker programs, while Italy’s Five Star Movement combines populist, conservative and liberal policies in its platform. In our own nation, Nigel Farage’s UK Independence Party continue to poll in second place, with many predicting they may even clinch first as we move closer and closer to election day. The libertarian-conservative UKIP recently backed granting asylum to refugees of the conflict in Syria and its proposed immigration policy is no different to what Australia has had for years. Farage has also refused to work with the EAF, a remarkably brave move given that it will almost certainly cost him his front bench position in the European Parliament and the future of his current parliamentary group, the EFD.
Regardless of alliances, the core legislative agenda of these parties in the European Parliament will be one of obstruction – a bloc of up to 100 MEPs that will attempt to impede the federalist agenda. After all, that is really the only thing they can do as Eurosceptic MEPs, given that only members of the European Commission can propose new legislation to reduce the scale and scope of the EU’s vast bureaucracy and halt the ongoing centralisation of power within EU institutions.
It was not the right that crippled Southern Europe and then forced Northern Europe to bail them out. It was not conservatives that destroyed hundreds of thousands of jobs through the introduction of stringent EU regulations. It was not even the fascists that told the French, Irish and Dutch people who voted against the European Constitution in popular referendums that they would have it forced upon them nonetheless. This was the work of the Brussels political class, blinded by their aspiration for a pan-European superpower; they sought to use any means necessary to achieve their horrifying dream, ignoring the destruction they caused in the process.
The upswing in support for these parties is not motivated by a Europe-wide move towards nativism, but a deep-seated desire among the peoples of Europe to set their nations free from the stranglehold of Brussels. No level of fearmongering from the left will eliminate this. There is little question that the European Union project has proved itself to be a total and utter failure over these past few years and this May’s results will reflect that.
Contributed by Jay Patel