Spain just had snap elections in order for the Socialists to try to get a majority as a result of the collapsing of their coalition. While the Socialists certainly did well, what shocked pundits and journalists was the rise of the nationalist populist Vox Party that stormed into Parliament in their first major national breakthrough winning over 10 percent of the vote. The reason this was so shocking was that it was long believed that Spain was immune from the nationalist right. They had the dictator Franco for 30 or 40 years, who imposed an ultranationalist regime on the nation. It was widely believed that Spain was done with anything even hinting of nationalist rightwing populism. Yet, here we are they have now just voted in a thoroughly nationalist, populist, and traditionalist political party that just a couple of years back in their last national election got 0.2 percent of the vote!!! Vox has gone from .2 percent to now over 10 percent in a matter of mere months. Without question, this is a historical election for the nationalist right.
Now with Spain having a viable righting populist party, pundits are recognizing that the political map of Europe has been radically altered in a matter of just a few years. The Independent had an interesting article on this. They recognized that as of now among the 28 member states of the European Union, an astonishing 23 of those 28 states now officially have the nationalist populist and Eurosceptic right seated in their governments. By definition of the article, to be nationalist populist and Eurosceptic right, your party had to be associated with one of the European Parliament groups or coalitions of nationalist right parties, such as the Europe of Nations and Freedom, the Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy or the European Conservatives and Reformists. That is the standard the Independent used they did mention Greece’s Golden Dawn as an outlier, that is not a member of these groups, nevertheless thoroughly nationalist populist and Eurosceptic right.
Interestingly the article recognizes that one of the major effects that this rise in nationalist populist parties is having on the politics of Europe is the way such parties are transforming the more mainstream political right parties into what scholars are calling nationalist LIGHT parties. We are seeing the emergence of the nationalist populist LIGHT. In other words, like we are seeing with the Republican Party here in the States, nationalist populist parties and leaders have effectively caused the more mainstream political parties to begin adopting as normative particularly the immigration and cultural policies that were once ridiculed as far-right or radical-right or extreme-right. Now it is all becoming just mainstream. Fidesz in Hungary adopted the Jobbik Party’s stance on immigration. Same with the Austrian People’s Party, basically joining forces with the Austrian Freedom Party by adopting their political platform. Astonishingly, we are seeing this happen even with the political left in Denmark. The Social Democrats are now major advocates for the closing the border and enforcing very, very strict immigration standards and limitations on things like marriage migration. In Germany, the so-called far-left Die Linke Party is advocating closing the borders and limiting welfare and social aid only to German citizens. This is clearly an astonishing development where policies that were once considered to be radical and far-right are now actually becoming pre-political. They are more and more being considered normative for any viable political party which suggests as a significant political paradigm shift just over the last couple of years in Europe
And of course, we are seeing this political paradigm shift in the upcoming European Parliament elections at the end of May, literally just a few weeks from today. Already it is projected that Matteo Salvini’s Italian League is going to quadruple its representation in the EU assembly with nearly 30 seats. Along with that, the Europe of Nations and Freedom group is projected to almost double their representation from 37 seats to at least 61 seats. The Alternative for Germany is projected to win more seats as well as Tehree Bowdet’s Forum for Democracy in the Netherlands. Poland’s Law and Justice Party is poised to dominate the elections along with Marine Le Pen’s National Rally in France. The brand new Brexit Party is projected to win hands down, polling upwards of nearly 30 percent pretty consistently. And now, to top it all off, you have the Vox Party in Spain poised to win seats! The analysts are saying if these nationalist populist forces can align together into a single coalition, which is what Matteo Salvini is hoping to do, they will be the single largest political alliance in the European Parliament. The center-right alliance, EPP, which has been the largest group in the European Parliament and recently suspended Viktor Orban, will be effectively over .
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