Is the EU turning right? Don’t make me laugh

Current elections in Europe are revealing a move to the right in politics. In Sweden, the Sweden Democrats (dodgy extremist origins, now mainstream centre-right nationalists, anti-liberal immigration and somewhat EU-sceptical) are poised at the time of writing to become the largest partner in a new-right-wing bloc government, ousting the left-wing, progressive administration by the slimmest of margins.

In Italy, the similarly minded Brothers of Italy (Fratelli d’Italia, fascist origins in the dim and distant past, now long since renounced) are surging in the polls and there is a distinct possibility that its leader, the photogenic Giorgia Meloni, will become Italy’s first-ever female Prime Minister. Of course, the centrist status quo faction and the left have been fighting back, accusing these parties of being ‘fascist’ and ‘alt-right’ so as to rally ‘civilised’ and ‘respectable’ people in opposition against them, as they did against Trump. Assuming they don’t succeed, should right-thinking people everywhere rejoice?

Well, if so, just a tiny bit. But it won’t be worth getting out the bunting and popping the champagne corks. The reality is that any right-wing successes are most unlikely to make any significant, lasting difference to European politics. It feels almost too late for that. The reason is, as is so often the case, the grip of the EU on its continental fiefdoms.

Brussels is a draconian and unforgiving overlord of its subsidiary states’ finances. Remember the cries of Greece crushed in the EU’s financial straight jacket during the Euro crisis epoch, and its neutering of the Greek government’s ability to act? Remember how it engineered events in a coup to unseat Silvio Berlusconi undemocratically  in 2011? Italy’s recently resigned PM, Mario Draghi, was the brains behind that one, so there is at least some poetic justice in his recent departure. It is the consequence of that departure that has resulted in the forthcoming Italian general election on 25 September which, on the surface at least, offers most hope to right-wingers.

What is on offer? There is the usual rallying talk of stemming immigration and Islamisation and, in support of family values, withdrawing support of the LGBT lobby, which Meloni professes to detest. It all sounds quite lively, but would the Brothers – or any right-wing party – really do much about any of it? Matteo Salvini, right-wing populist poster boy of the League, made a considerable splash against illegal immigration, but when he and the radical left-wing Five Star Movement went into government coalition they quickly transformed from anti-establishment agitators into pro-establishment rulers.

It is unlikely that the Brothers would be much different. Indeed, reporting on the forthcoming election in the French press, Le Figaro recently recorded how Italy’s right-wing parties, Brothers and all, pledged ‘full adhesion to the European integration process’. So their rightism extends to little more than the EU’s corporatist neo-liberalism with a few minimal economic add-ons that Brussels might condescendingly grant.

They are unlikely to place in jeopardy the billions of euros from the European Covid Recovery Plan coming their way if they behave themselves. (Indeed, the euphemistically named plan is just another blatant push for greater EU control of nation-state members.) It is hard to envisage Italy, the EU’s fourth most populous country, standing up to the EU and going even half as far as the refreshingly recalcitrant governments of Law and Justice in Poland or Orbàn’s Fidesz in Hungary; the  powerful and fanatically pro-EU elites in Italy would simply prevent that from happening.

Voter turnout is expected to drop below 60%. Those abstaining can’t be criticised for thinking their votes will make no difference. They are all too familiar with the phenomenon of radical parties berating the establishment in order that they might win entrance to it. Besides, a right-wing coalition led by Meloni would probably not last long anyway.

And all the while the EU is still paying the piper.

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10 Comments on Is the EU turning right? Don’t make me laugh

  1. The comment at the end about the EU paying is 100% wrong. The population the EU pays – the institution has no economic activity by itself.

  2. Excellent article.

    Do you think that perhaps the UK escaped from the EU because we don’t have Proportional Representation? UKIP never won seats in a General Election, and therefore were never assimilated, the way similar parties in other EU countries have been.

    UKIP looked as if they might win a large number of parliamentary seats all at once, and be as irreconcilable as Sinn Fein were 120 years earlier, and that’s why we got a referendum and the rest of Europe didn’t.

  3. As an American libertarian, it’s difficult for me to see any resemblence of the right in any European party. And the word “fascist” is said in a context nowadays that only includes the right. But the hard left can be just as fascist as the hard right; indeed, the three individuals in the last century who are responsible for the most deaths, were all leftists. Hitler, Mao and Stalin! The people who call Hitler “hard right” are ignoramuses. He was a socialist who believed in a fascist, top down approach to governance, that would micro manage every facet of your life. When I look at the parties in Europe today, I see fascism. I don’t see any party respecting individual liberty, including the so-called UK rightwing, which from my libertarian view, isn’t very right. And that is not say that I don’t believe in government. I’m not an anarcho syndicalist, or a rothbardian, but I think history has shown us that the writers of the federalist papers were correct in asserting that “limited government” is best. The negative externalities in the marketplace are almost always the result of govt. intervention, and so is the inequality. Glenn Loury, of Harvard, discusses this a lot. Regulation tends to keep poor people poor, because they don’t have the money to jump through hurdles. The centralization of the healthcare industry — due to regulation — essentially led to an oligopoly, which of course leads to poor outcomes. And instead of removing that regulation, which would have been the best approach, the people look towards the government to save them from this poor outcome, not realizing that the government is the reason they cannot get quality care. And then once the government has all market power, of course they just keep clamoring for more of your money.

    They will tell you it’s not perfect, but if you give us more of your labor, if you trust us, if you believe in our “trusted experts”, then we can save you. And that eventually leads to tyranny. It leads to a system where your own congress people have no power, because all the power is in the “institution” where the borg like collective works and operates.

    • Leaving aside what “fascist” or “leftist” actually means, and just looking at particular policies, I would think that the rise of anti-establishment parties in Sweden and Italy is driven primarily, though not exclusively, by opposition to “unarmed invasion” from Africa and Asia, with its manifest consequences in crime and unwanted cultural change. Libertarian attitudes are not helpful if they deny national security and frustrate racial survival.

    • Dear Greg; no, Hitler was the precise opposite to a socialist. Just because he called his party the “National Socialists” means nothing. Nomenclature is irrelevant to the meaning of politics. East Germany was known as the German Democratic Republic. Did that make it a democracy? Hitler fought the biggest war in history against Marxism, 25 million deaths, yet people wrongly call him a “Socialist”. His policies were built upon a loathing of Communism.

      • Hitler’s rise to power was based on his exploitation of ordinary people’s fear of Communism, but that doesn’t mean that his ideology had nothing in common with Lenin’s. I see two principal variants of socialism: the Marxian and the Wagnerian. Stalin was a Marxist socialist; Hitler was a Wagnerist socialist; but socialists is surely what they both were.