Nationalism gives rise to ultra-rightist mood in Europe

By Ai Jun Source:Global Times Published: 2017/1/22 23:48:39

"Yesterday, a new America. Today, a new Europe!" said Dutch nationalist Geert Wilders, leader of the Dutch Freedom Party (PVV), in a conference of Europe's far-right parties in the German city of Koblenz on Saturday, right after US President Donald Trump's inauguration.

Marine Le Pen, France's far-right presidential candidate as well as leader of the French National Front (FN), called for a nationalist revival in Europe and said she hopes people in the continent will follow in the footsteps of Trump's victory and Brexit in her opening speech at the meeting.

Although the EU is still alive today, its vitality is much weaker than before. After Brexit, far-right forces in Germany, France and the Netherlands, including Alternative for Germany, the FN and PVV, are all itching for a big fight in the coming general elections this year.

Utilizing nationalism and anti-immigration political proposals, these parties are hoping to strike a responsive chord in the hearts of their voters. They lash out at Brussels, Wall Street and the elites in their countries while adopting a hostile attitude toward globalization and immigrants. Their policies can be simply summarized as closing doors, putting up walls and seizing their sovereignty back from the EU. 

Nations voluntarily transferring part of their sovereignty to the EU is the essence of European integration. However, what far-right, nationalist parties want now is to take that power back. No more united currency, no more Schengen Area, no more free flow of people. Just like Trump's "America first," they want to put themselves in the first place instead of the whole bloc and go back to a zero-sum game.

This is not the first emergence of a rise in far-right groups in history. Extreme nationalism created Nazism, which stands for National Socialism in German. After WWI, when Germany was struggling under economic pressure and a high unemployment rate, Adolf Hitler took advantage by promising jobs and food to his citizens while blaming Jews, communist parties and the humiliating Treaty of Versailles for the country's misery. Driven by extreme nationalism, the country soon went on to the path of authoritarianism and expansionism.

Once nationalism goes to extremes, it will turn into a hotbed for far-right forces to thrive. Views such as "America first" or "France first" are becoming a powerful strength to win more votes, but therein lies more danger.

People have not yet noticed the common characteristics of far-right politics - controlling opposition forces, enforcing trade protectionism, aggressive policies and even imperialism. All that will turn into uncertain impacts on today's world.

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