In the last few years the world and especially Europe experienced a new rise of populism in the last few years. Trough the refugee crisis and the few terror attacks in for example Germany and France people started not to feel safe anymore. Populist leaders like Orban or the ADF (Alternative for Germany) declared refugees the war. It is not a secret, that they incite against foreigners, especially Muslims and consider them as a potential threat for the population. The last few years gave them credit. We remember the attack on the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo 2015 or attack on the Christmas market in Berlin 2016. Every single attack had a right-wing extremist background and was carried out by a Muslim. Therefore, it is not surprising, that the population is getting scared and right-wing parties gaining ground in European parliaments.
The extent to which populist parties are represented in the governments of European countries?
Right-wing parties often advertise with an enemy, in this case the foreigners or refugees and Muslims in general. The present an easy solution for the problem: Kick them out and send them back to their country. But it isn’t as easy as it seems because after all we live in democracy and have a constitution and laws we need to follow. The most famous right-wing parties are for example the AFD in Germany or Front Nacional in France. But there are a lot more, for example in Poland or Hungary. The AFD is Germany has 93 representatives in the German parliament (Bundestag). The Bundestag has currently 709 representatives for more than 12 parties. In the election 2017, the received 12,3% of all votes and was the third most voted party. The most voted party CDU had 26,8%. The front nacional had 33,9 % in the last election for parliament in 2018. Orbans party JOBBIK is the second strongest party in parliament with 19,1%: Last but not least Poland with Prawo party received 33, 8% in the election 2015.All in all, you can see the right-wing parties are successful in European parliament.
How do they have become so successful?
First of all, you have to consider, that populist parties always play with the fear of the people. In these days people are afraid of the refugees for example. This can have different reasons safety or social background reasons. This are reasons what are known. But I wanted to go further into this topic and asked a lecturer for politics studies from the “Fresenius” university of Cologne, Dr. Heinz Schürnmann. He added, that “right-wing parties often understand themselves as the representative of the common people. The have an easy solution to a complex answer and promise to help the neglected people. They speak about important topics and promise to tackle construction sites such as old-age poverty in Germany. Many people miss that in the old established parties like CDU or SPD. In addition to that the political situation with Brexit or refugee crisis. Another reason is, that a lot people vote parties like AFD as a protest against the popular parties like CDU or SPD”.
A threat for modern democracy?
As iam currently studying in London, I was also curious what the people think.
Lisa W, 20 from Eidinbough is sure, that this will be over in a few years, when the political situation in the world is different. “We have to defend democracy and right-wing parties will have no chance to destroy that”.
But there are also people who are more worried, like Michael E, “Especially if look at the past, you can see, that right-wing populism can be a threat for democracy. In my point of view, it is scary that European parliaments are full of them”.
Joanna, C from Canada is not a fan of scare tactics. “we will see how it will develop”. And what is lecturer saying? “Of course, it is scary if you see what is happening. But we have to learn from the past and defend democracy and our values to anyone, who wants to destroy them”.
Nobody can answer if right-wing populism or parties are a threat for modern democracy. We will see that in the future. The best we can do is to not to vote for parties or give them any platforms. Furthermore, we should make people aware of what has happened in the past