Foreign Policy Blogging at OTB

I’ve just published a foreign policy-related post at Outside the Beltway:

Is Europe Turning Right?

Upstart parties gaining victories in European elections are variously described as “far right”, “extreme right”, or even “Neo-Nazi”. However inadequate our language for describing what these parties really stand for, it’s clear that an important development is going on in European politics.

5 comments… add one
  • When you post these things, can I respond here or am I supposed to go there?

  • Responding here is fine. Wherever you prefer.

    I read both threads.

  • nike shupp

    I wonder a bit. None of those right wing parties really got near to winning a majority — typically they got 25 to 28 per cent of the vote and thus outscored two or three other parties. In other words, they got about as much support as Tea Party groups do in this country. Or maybe slightly less — Wikipedia reports 33 % of US voters have expressed support for Tea Party issues in some polls.

    I’m aware this isn’t negligible. Adolph Hitler’s Nazi’s came to power with about 33% of the vote back in 1932. But we’ve all learned a few things since 1932, especially those of us who haven’t been voting for Tea Party-backed candidates or nationalist French or anti-immigrant British parties. We’re a lot more wary of what minority governments can try to enact and a bit more willing to protest if we’re unhappy, and perhaps a little more willing to consider undoing some right wing legislation when our turn at power comes. (Apologies for being so wishy-washy, but the Obama administration has demonstrated that dismantling right-wing accomplishments isn’t something liberals turn to automatically.)

    Anyhow, it isn’t clear to me we’re seeing something Brand New in European politics. I think we’re just getting a glimpse of sentiments that have always been there, but usually concealed by majoritarian politics, in Europe and in the USA.

  • Keep in mind that those countries have parliamentary systems and in such systems achieving control is more about forging ruling coalitions than about electoral majorities. Unlike here, minority parties can have substantial influence on the direction of policy.

  • From my eye – relatively unfettered by much intricate knowledge – a whole lot of it seems to revolve around the increased importance of the EU which a lot of people are skeptical of. It’s often assumed here in the US that skepticism towards “the feds” is some combination of our black president and/or refighting fed-enforced civil rights battles, and that’s sometimes true and sometimes not, though in their case the resistance towards EU policy on immigration and the economy seems more natural as they get their super-state bearings down. Their union being trickier than ours. This all seems to have both a right-wing and a left-wing variant.

    Dave, as someone whose mind is fettered by greater knowledge, how often is it that these minor parties are joining coalitions? My impression is that they tend to be locked out to some degree as the mainstream parties prefer unity governments over coalitions with radicals (particularly of the right-wing variety). I could be completely wrong about that. Even if I were right, however, that would still represent a problem of the mainstream parties getting worried and moving outward to co-opt votes.

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