Rising Support for the Far-Right
Rising Support for the Far-Right
It came as quite a shock when UKIP were granted the status of being a major political party in the UK this week, especially when the country has traditionally been divided by Labour or Conservative allegiances. Currently, UKIP are coming third in the polls ahead of May’s General Election. They are taking support from the left as well as the right, and it does not look as though support for the anti-Europe, anti-immigration party will slow down.
It’s a trend that can be seen in other parts of Europe. Binyamin Netanyahu’s party, Likud, won decisively in the Israeli elections on Wednesday 18th March and is now seeking to form a strong right-wing coalition to prevent the formation of a Palestinian state.
France are preparing for the preliminary rounds of their regional elections this month. The Front Nationale, or National Front, are a far-right party whose leader is Marine Le Pen. Le Pen has found herself faced with an unprecedented level of celebrity that has given rise to people feeling unfazed by the opportunity to express their support for far-right initiatives. Le Pen has somehow made a party that was once a toxic fringe movement accessible. The party was linked to neo-Nazism and anti-Semitism, yet now the FN is now almost respectable, wishing to govern France.
This change is recent. In 2010, supporters of the FN hid their approval of Le Pen’s father’s, Jean-Marie Le Pen’s party, until the day of the election. This is not how it is today with fans asking Le Pen for her autograph and queuing in the streets to see her.
Opinion polls predict that the FN will win the first round of voting with about 30% of the vote, bettering the 25% that they won last year in the European Parliament elections. Although the FN will probably not make it very far past the second round, as voters will focus on the centrist parties, Le Pen is not concerned. Le Pen has the long game in mind, with over 7600 candidates in 95% of constituencies, she’s seeking to gain a strong support base for the presidential elections in 2017.
While the practicality of President Le Pen is far removed, the prime minister Manuel Valls is urging the public to be aware that this could be a reality. Le Pen is distancing herself from the FN’s past through policy and is trying to be seen as respectable rather than just a ridiculous fad by attending committee meetings and debates.
What will happen in 2017 cannot be known. The continued support for UKIP in the UK and the growing support for Le Pen indicates that there is a problem and that the problem is a European one. We have an economic problem that needs to be solved, yet the EU allows for free migration and easy access to rights to work.
Are the far-right really bringing the austerity measures that Europe needs to secure jobs and a free and fair environment?
Madeleine is a final year student at the University of Exeter studying BA English with proficiency in French who has developed her writing and editing through her involvement with Her Campus Exeter. In her free time, Madeleine loves discovering new music in preparation for the UK festival season and searching for opportunities which can broaden her horizons, most recently this was volunteering as a teacher in Beijing, China, where she was immersed in Chinese culture and tradition. There are few things in this world that bring Madeleine more joy than glitter, velvet and sequins and her ideal dinner party guests would be Queen Elizabeth I, George Orwell and Taylor Swift. Currently, with graduation looming, Madeleine is exploring the idea of taking time out to travel the world on a shoe string before embarking upon a career in international humanitarian aid.