The European populist right and ‘real’ power: Lessons for the mainstream parties in the up and coming general election

With the rise of populist parties across Europe in recent years, come May the real question worth asking is whether the success of right wing nationalist parties across Europe, will be reaffirmed in the UK general election?

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The last decade has seen a dramatic increase in populist movements across Europe. Within the EuropeanParliament itself, this has been most evident. From fairly moderate parties such as the Freedom Party of Holland and Italy’s Lega Nord party, to the overtly fascist Jibbok of Hungary and the anti Islamist movement PEGIDA in Germany, it is undeniable that these voices represent a broader sentiment that is etched onto the conciousness of the European electorate.

UKIP are currently carrying the torch of right wing populism in Britain. The issues they address are currently more potent than ever. In turbulent times of foreign policy, where the war against the Islamic State and militant Islam presents itself increasingly like a domestic problem, the strong emotional appeal of UKIP’s immigration policies cannot be underestimated. Coupled with an unpopular coalition and unavailing economic policies, a fertile battleground for Farage and Co has materialised come May.

While Labour, the Tories and the Lib Dems seem engrossed in a war of dogmatic party politics, through complacency they have recklessly collectivised themselves into the same ballot box via the eyes of the electorate and the media when it comes to issues such as immigration. This growth in mistrust of the established elite and the economic hardships of life in modern day Britain have left a cue for Nigel Farage to take to the stage and give British politics a “spicing up”.

In the midst of UKIP’s rise, Farage would be best served to look past his Euroscepticism and conversely find confidence via his European neighbours’ experience. While both Podemos and Syriza are ideologically distanced from UKIP, all three parties’ explicit detachment from the current political establishment makes them adhere to this recent rise of populist prosperity. Perhaps more relevant to UKIP’s manifesto would be the recent success of the Swedish Democrats, who largely run on an anti-immigration mantra. Each of these parties represents real change and a shift to real power in their respective domestic elections. In times of crisis, people turn to the extremes.

What looks likely in May?

Although a UKIP majority looks highly unlikely in the general election, the biggest effect of the UKIP vote will be how it influences a potential majority for Labour and the Conservatives. So as the intensity of the campaign trail gathers momentum, Cameron and Milliband be warned. This “pound-shop Enoch Powell” may be worth his weight in gold come May, or more alarmingly…votes.

The European populist right and ‘real’ power: Lessons for the mainstream parties in the up and coming general election

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