Europe is witnessing a significant shift in its political landscape as right wing and national conservative parties gain substantial victories in recent elections, defying the traditional exclusionary practices that have kept them away from power for years. Parties advocating for stricter immigration policies, rising living costs, and a more skeptical approach to the European Union (EU) are experiencing a surge in popularity in countries such as Italy, Germany, France, Spain, Scandinavia, and central-Eastern Europe.
The longstanding "firewall" or "cordon sanitaire" strategy, implemented by mainstream parties to isolate and prevent right wing parties from gaining political influence, is proving to be ineffective. The growing traction of right wing parties challenges the once dominant status quo and forces a reevaluation of political dynamics across the continent.
One of the primary factors driving support for right wing parties in Europe is the opposition to uncontrolled mass immigration. Concerns over national identity, security, and cultural assimilation have resonated with many voters, propelling right wing parties into the mainstream. Additionally, the aftermath of the Ukraine war has led to soaring living costs and high energy prices, further fueling public support for right wing platforms.
While most right wing parties express skepticism toward the EU, their foreign policy stances are not always consistent, particularly in relation to Russia. Differences in attitudes towards Russia have prevented a cohesive and unified front among right wing movements across the continent. Nonetheless, the increasing influence of right wing parties has given rise to the concept of a potential "Conservative International" or "Right Wing International," indicating a growing sense of collaboration and shared objectives among these parties.
In Germany, the right wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) party has gained considerable momentum following Chancellor Angela Merkel's decision to keep the borders open for migrants. Recent polls show the AfD surpassing the ruling Social Democrats, signifying a significant shift in the country's political landscape.
In France, Marine Le Pen's popularity has surpassed that of President Emmanuel Macron, emphasizing the growing support for right wing ideologies. Sweden has witnessed a rise in support for the right wing Sweden Democrats due to concerns over lax migration and security policies. In Italy, the Fratelli d'Italia, led by Giorgia Meloni, has attracted broad support by emphasizing conservative social values and taking a tougher stance on illegal immigration.
Spain has also experienced a shift towards right wing politics, with the conservative Partido Popular and the more hard right Vox party making gains in recent regional and local elections. These parties challenge claims of a return to "Franco era" politics and present an alternative vision for the country's governance.
As Europe grapples with the complexities of a new era of multipolar geopolitics, the continent finds itself confronted with the imperative to adapt to shifting political dynamics. The ascent of right wing movements serves as a reflection of the prevailing sentiments, signaling a growing demand for conservative, realist perspectives that place a premium on stability and the promotion of self-governance. The challenge lies in charting a course through these transformations, carefully acknowledging the divergent foreign policy stances, especially in relation to Russia, as Europe strives to effectively navigate the evolving political terrain and forge a path toward a prosperous future.