Will the refugee crisis, slow economic growth and rising popularity of right-wing parties pronounce ‘checkmate’ to the EU?
Although the Freedom Party from Austria has the history of Holocaust denial, its presidential candidate has a great chance to win the election in December. He would be the first far-right head of state in Western Europe since the fall of Hitler. But, this is not the only case of an unpredictable climate. Similar scenarios have erupted in other parts of Europe, and the rest of the world. The Sweden Democrats, the National Front in France as well as the Party for Freedom in the Netherlands are some new examples in brevity, notwithstanding Donald Trump, of course.
Many emphasize that the main reason for the rise of the right-wing parties in the EU is the refugee crisis, which started in 2015 and until now had brought over a million asylum seekers from Muslim countries to the European Union. Politicians who use people’s fear for their future because of the Muslim refugees have become new favourites. It is not unusual to hear about how migrants have seized their jobs and are threatening their culture and security. Going along the lines is terrorism across the world. People are scared and disappointed in current governments and, as expected, are seeking a change. They probably see their salvation in politicians, but they are short-sighted in one way. Widespread dissatisfaction, including of those who have been generalised and accused with political unrest, has been the scenario. The result has been the growth of the right-wing parties on both sides.
The origin of the problem in the European Union was a discrepancy between the aspirations of some countries to have only their national democracy, and the necessity of the integrated policy at the Eurozone level with strong financial discipline at the national level. Large differences between countries in economic, cultural and political terms has also been an issue. Citizens of the financially strong countries, such as France and Germany, are more and more convinced that having their own economies outside the EU would be better for them, without financing the progress of the other economies. On the other hand, weaker countries, such as those in the Eastern Europe, still do not have the strength or the resources to deal with requests and obligations that the Eurozone imposes. It all began with Brexit, and now has Italy in its clutches. Bad experiences due to excessive self-confidence in an affirmative outcome of the referendum in the United Kingdom and Italy could be repeated in the upcoming elections in the Netherlands, Germany and France. It is not surprise that survival of the EU would definitely become a challenge after such radical changes in political economy. The refugee experience has not been better either. Even the smaller countries of the EU have begun to refuse obedience to open borders for Muslim refugees.
Many current events in the EU, such as problems in the third bailout in Greece, the stalemate in the peace process in Ukraine, or the passage of refugees through Turkey, further strengthen the right-oriented politicians. This is bound to affect democracy, for sure. When fear rules, the leader has the main word. And this would perceptibly lead to the fall of democracy. And added to this, most of the right-oriented parties are Eurosceptic too. It becomes a challenge to solve this situation especially with the increasing popularity of conservatism and fascism in leadership.