The growth of the far right in Europe is causing hysteria and conceptual misunderstandings.
They are ultranationalist, sovereigntist, racist, intolerant of immigrants and refugees, and advocate for the primacy of public security. They take anti-scientific positions and uphold a return to ultra-conservative values (“God, Motherland, Family”!). However, none of these parties has advocated for the end of the democratic regime.
After decades of governance by “power parties”, many European citizens are now dissatisfied with the results, and their frustration with the “system” has become increasingly widespread.
This frustration fosters disenchantment with the institutions representing the “system” and has paved the way for anti-system movements. Regardless of the formal flags – from xenophobia to security advocacy to outright patriotism – what truly fuels these anti-system movements is a reaction to a “system” that does not solve problems.
A system that excludes so many citizens from the hope of a dignified life, increasingly exhausted in their expectation of a more prosperous society, with more solidarity, with more equality of opportunity, with better governance of public affairs. As a result, given the system’s impotence in improving political representation and the functioning of the regime, more and more citizens are distancing themselves from political discussion, and electoral abstention has been on the rise in Europe.
Then there are the concrete fears of many European workers of job losses because of the relocation of plants and production units due to globalization. For other European citizens, the risk of change of the social fabric as a result [of the perception] of significant influx of culturally, religiously, linguistically and socially different people fuels phobias and promotes extremist reactions.
Low disposable income, increasing social inequalities, and the proletarianization of large sectors of the society (especially among young people) have also increased the dissatisfaction of many European citizens.
The anti-system parties have discovered an untapped niche here. The anti-system left movements are no longer an alternative, given the failure of Marxism-Leninism. The “green” movements have abandoned radicalism to fight for environmental protection from within the system, from within the government.
Citizens who want a change in political governance and are fed up with the alternation between center-right and center-left parties end up converging on these extreme right-wing parties.
In the countries in which they currently rule it is clear that these extremists can do no better in solving society’s problems. In a few years this will also be clear in Sweden and Italy.
We need to make the system work better, solve citizens’ problems, increase people’s disposable income, and promote capable and efficient political elites to run the republic. Either the liberal-democratic political leaders – who are still the majority in Europe – reform the system and make it work effectively, or this disenchantment will continue to catalyze the gradual erosion of the credibility of liberal democratic regimes.
In the meantime, let this ridiculous and inconsequential hysteria end.