Matteo Salvini’s Vision for a United Nationalist Europe!!!
Posted by Steve Turley ● Jul 29, 2018 12:24:49 AM
Italy’s Matteo Salvini is putting forward a vision for a united nationalist Europe. Reuters is reporting that Italy’s deputy prime minister is planning on bringing the same kind of electoral success that he and his so-called ‘far right’ party, The League, formerly known as the Northern League, Lega Nord, to the whole of Europe. In a speech a few days back before the League’s annual gathering just north of Milan, Salvini declared that the League was here to stay, that they would be governing for the next 30 years. How is THAT for some chest thumping confidence! Then he said that in order to win, the League had to unite Italy, and if the nationalist vision that won Italy is going to win ALL of Europe, then it is time to unite the continent. Salvini said that he is thinking of a League of the Leagues of Europe, bringing together all of what he calls “the free and sovereign movements that want to defend their people and their borders.”
Salvini has every reason to be confident and optimistic here. Remember that back on the March 4th national election, the League got 17 percent of the vote as part of an overall center-right coalition that received a total of 37 percent of the vote. But what we found happening was that because the League got a higher percentage of the vote than did it’s coalition partner, the more ‘mainstream’ or center-right Forza Italia, supporters began to move from Forza Italia to the League. Since March 4th, the League has nearly doubled their support to 30 percent. And they completely dominated the mayoral elections held a few weeks back as well as the runoffs that were held just some days back. I mean, the League is absolutely taking Italy by storm at both the federal level and the local level.
I don’t know if you know the history of the League, but this political success has been nothing less than a stunning – indeed, at one time unthinkable turnaround. When Salvini took over the leadership of the Northern League back in 2013, it barely garnered 5 percent support. It was corrupt and disorganized. The fact that he has been able to take a relatively fringe, disorganized political party and in a matter of just 5 years transform it into one of the most popular, indeed one of the reigning parties in Italy along with the populist Five Star is one of the great political success stories in Europe.
Of course, the League is not alone; we are seeing a comparable success story in one nationalist populist party after another throughout Europe, which we have rehearsed many times here. For example, what we are seeing in Sweden is nothing short of stunning in terms of the rise of the Sweden Democrats. In the 1980s and 1990s, they were barely getting over 2 or 3 percent support. But then they got things together and first stormed into parliament in 2010, with about 6 percent of the vote, winning 20 seats, then they repeated their success again four years later in 2014 by doubling their support with 13 percent of the vote. Now, with the upcoming election in September, they are polling, at least in some polls, upwards of nearly 30 percent! They are the single biggest political party in Sweden, if these polls are accurate. Gven this trajectory, what do you think their support will look like in 2022?
There is no question, the winds are at the backs of the nationalist right. So Matteo is basically saying: What we have done at local and national levels, we now need to do at the continental level, referring explicitly to the upcoming European Parliament elections in May of 2019. Salvini is looking to build a dynamic network of nationalist parties around Europe, with of course France’s National Front and Marine Le Pen, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and the Fidesz Party, and Austria’s Chancellor Sebastian Kurz and the alliance between the center-right People’s Party and the so-called far-right Freedom Party, which has upwards of a 60 percent coalition majority in the Austrian parliament.
Let us put this all in perspective. What Salvini is advocating here is but the latest chapter of a history of what scholars call the ‘internationalizing of the nationalist right.’ While the nationalist right have focused primarily on local and national elections, they all recognize that transnational politics are in many ways just as equally important, because the ultimate adversary in all of this is globalization, and globalization is by definition transnational. And so, virtually all of the national right organizations out there mobilize beyond just the national level, creating networks with likeminded organizations in other countries.
We have seen organizations such as the European Alliance for Freedom emerge within the European Parliament, made up of the National Front, the Dutch Freedom Party, the Belgian Vlaams Belang, the Freedom Party of Austria, the Sweden Democrats, and Lega Nord or what is of course known today as the League. In addition, you have the Alliance of European Nationalist Movements that was founded back in 2009 that brought together the Jobbik party of Hungary, the Belgian National Front, the Finnish National Party, and many, many more.
You even have non-political events that serve as common networking sites, such as the heavy metal music festival Hammerfest which features a number of rightwing nationalist bands, which we have featured on an earlier podcast several months back; you fellow metal heads might like to avail yourselves of that podcast on our channel. So there are all kinds of ways for the nationalist right to create common networks and solidarity structures that bolster their common cause.
What is really interesting is that scholars argue that in order to have effective international or transnational alliances, you have to have what they call clearly defined ‘frames.’ Frames involve clearly defined problems, goals, and solutions that different nations or national groups share in common, and so in such a way, frames form the basis of collective identities, including transnational and international ones, and thus provide the precondition for cooperation. Now, if you are a regular reader of my blog, you can guess what three issues make up the frames for creating cross-national links between the individual nationalist parties: border security, economic security, and cultural security. Studies of nationalist right pamphlets, websites, party newspapers, magazines, and the like have identified common issues that appear among virtually all nationalist right discourse. All of the rhetoric exemplifies a radical Euroskepticism, particularly against the insistence of Brussels to open the borders of Europe to Northern Africa and the Middle East; they are radically opposed to the globalizing processes that are replacing local economies, industries, and businesses with transnational corporations that have absolutely no loyalty to land, culture, or custom. And they stand steadfastly opposed to the multicultural assault on their nation, culture, and traditions particularly in light of the Islamization of Europe, which is the inevitable consequence of open borders globalization.
In many respects, the stances of the nationalist populist right throughout Europe have become identical: they want a united Europe, what they call a pan-European unity, but this unity must be based on a diversity of distinct national identities rooted in a common classical and Christian civilization. They completely and unapologetically reject the contemporary technocracy of the European Union super state, they see globalization as an enemy common to all nations, cultures, and traditions, and they are banning together as one in a common fight against these dehumanizing dynamics and tendencies.
We will certainly be keeping an eye on Matteo Salvini’s plans on uniting the European nationalist right along these common transnational frames ahead of the upcoming European Parliamentary elections next year, and if these trends behind the frames are any indicator We may see an election that may very well change the face of Europe forever.
 [cf. Caiani, ‘Radical Right Cross-National Links,’ Oxford Handbook of Radical Right 396]