Europe’s Anti-Immigrant Political Shift to the Right?

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The United States is not alone in its attempt to drastically curtail immigration and protect its borders from undocumented immigrants and refugees. For some time now, European politics have threatened to shift the balance of political power to the right. Growing economic inequality, concerns with the European Union (EU), a loss of national identity and increased concerns with immigration have seemingly increased support for these far-right parties. In the Netherlands, the recent (March 2017) election campaign included echoed the 2016 US Presidential campaign and the UK’s 2016 Brexit vote, with calls to ban Muslim immigrants and exit the European Union (EU). Throughout Europe, the Dutch vote raised concerns about the further disintegration of the EU and the hardening of borders to immigrants, particularly with upcoming elections in both France and Germany where hard-right, anti-immigrant parties have gained traction with the electorate.

The Dutch, however, did not swing right as was feared, although the far-right did pick up seats in the Dutch parliament. Moreover, the party with the largest number of seats following the election, and led by Prime Minister Mark Rutte, has moved right as well with tougher comments on immigration, while remaining receptive and open to immigration. Whether other countries in Europe shift right is yet to be seen. In France, the far-right National Front party, led by Marine Le Pen, has a much stronger group of voters behind it. Fearing a dilution of their national culture, other countries, including Germany, Hungary, and Austria have also experienced increased calls to severely limit immigration, particularly from the Middle East.

Further Reading:

Gregor Aisch, Adam Pearch, Bryant Rousseau. How Far Is Europe Swinging to the Right? The New York Times, 16 March 2017. Available at: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/05/22/world/europe/europe-right-wing-austria-hungary.html

Populists Appear to Fall Short in Dutch Election, Amid High Turnout. The New York Times, 16 March 2017. Available at https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/15/world/europe/dutch-elections.html

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