9 - The European Union Elections, 2014
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9 The European Union Elections,2014 W hile researching a bookon fascists and antifascists,I noticed the antifascist anxieties mounting after the elections for the European Parliament in May 2014. In those elections, the “Far Right” Front National and its dynamic,attractive leader Marine Le Pen captured one-­quarter of the vote in France and helped limit the share of the popular vote won by François Hollande and his leftist coalition to 14 percent. In Britain the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) gained more votes than Labour, the Conservatives, or Liberal Democrats and, like the National Front, obtained about one-­ quarter of the votes cast. The UKIP, through its leader Nigel Farage, calls for limiting social benefits to immigrants, removing Britain from all EU control, and introducing a school voucher plan similar to one touted by American Republican politicians. These elections changed nothing internally in the countries in which they took place. Although a barometer of changing public opinion about immigration, the elections did nothing to alter the balance of power in the United Kingdom or France. Those who were in charge before the elections are still running Western European governments. Moreover, the victory of the UKIP in Britain cannot possibly be seen as a triumph for what the media decry as the “Far Right.” Neoconservative columnist Seth Lipsky correctly points out that the election in the United Kingdom in May 2014 favored Thatcherite, pro-­ Atlanticist moderates , who are entirely different from the backers of continental European “hate parties.”1 When approached after the election by Marine Le Pen, who asked him to join the rightist alliance that was crystallizing in the European Parliament, Farage pointedly turned down the offer. The American media are quite right to view Farage and his party as a continuation of the Conservative Party, before it lurched to the left after Thatcher and with particularly dramatic clarity, during David Cameron’s tenure as prime minister.2 Farage’s party has not developed the sharp social edge associated with more explicitly anti-­ immigration or more explicitly nationalist parties in Europe. 96 C H A P T E R nine The mainstream media have noticed a pattern in how such parties as Fidesz—­ also known as the Hungarian Civic Alliance—­ and Jobbik Magyarországért Mozgalom—­ also known as the Movement for a Better Hungary—­ in Hungary and the National Front in France blend reactions against the Communist or multicultural Left with opposition to Third World immigration. These parties draw heavily on the youth vote, in contrast to what is happening in the United States, where the young overwhelmingly favor the Left and are molded by what passes for popular culture. Since there was nothing two years ago like a serious, organized Right in the United States before the rise of the populist Trump movement, except for such pale approximations as Tea Party activists protesting tax hikes or the medical insurance plan under the Obama administration, the rightist specter on the European continent makes intellectuals and journalists reach for certain unsettling connections. The nationalist Right is thought to mean fascism, which means Nazis, which in turn means Auschwitz. This anxious thinking is not peculiar to the Wall Street Journal or New York Times, although both offered examples of this panicked reaction in the wake of the French election.3 This reaction indicates growing concern about an enemy that the European and American Left is unwilling to leave in the past. More is at stake here than fear about the return of the Nazi past. The Left points to the resurgent Right to justify its own form of socialization. Any deviation from the Left’s prescribed course of social-­ political control may lead us, or so we are made to believe, into spinning off into a fascist ditch. In this spirit of concern, German chancellor Merkel has assured the world multiple times that “Germany has no party on the right.”4 Indeed,such a party could not long survive in Merkel’s reconstructed German society, because the German courts would ban such a presence as a threat“to the liberal democratic order.” Meanwhile, former Communist activists, including longtime Stasi informer Gregor Gysi, are allowed to enter German provincial governments and may soon be asked to join a federal coalition, as members of the Party of Democratic Socialists. A scandal that no one but right-­ wing politicians, like Prime Minister Viktor Orbán of Hungary, even bother to notice is that former Soviet collaborators , including those who...



Subject Headings

  • Conservatism.
  • Liberalism.
  • Right and left (Political science).
  • Political science -- Philosophy.
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