European Far-Right

If Europe overall is more to the left than the United States in political orientation why is it that the Far Right there is far stronger? For instance Jean Marie Le-Pen won almost one-fifth of the vote in Presidential elections while Pat Buchanan won under one percent.

Well, it could be partly due to the electoral system. In a proportional/alternative vote system, people are more likely to register “protest” votes or to vote for marginal candidates, on the basis that they can redirect their votes (in the case of a French presidential election, in the runoff ballot a week later) in a way actually likely to influence the outcome.

A second factor you would want to look at is whethe the right-ish leaning voter has a candidate other than the Le Pen type to vote for. If the French election didn’t have a candidate broadly corresponding to the Republican candidate in a US presidential election, then rightish voters had to choose between Le Pen, and a much more centrist candidate than they would wish. Rightish US voters may be better served by the generally more right-leaning slant of US candidates.

UDS, your suggestions don’t explain why Britain, with an FPTP system and a strong conservative party, has elected a significant number of far right candidates in recent years while Ireland, with PR-STV and only centre-right parties, the far right is non-existent.

True. I never thought my points were more than incomplete explanations but, in the face of the example you give, I have to concede that they are even more incomplete than I first thought.

But the BNP has never gotten into Parliament. Which parties do you mean?

Maybe we have a different view of what far-right is. I would think more BNP and I wouldn’t class many (if any) Tories on that level.

I wouldn’t discount simple, honest to god Xenophobia. Sweden’s right wing party, Moderaterna, are in power and in polls this Week are shown to be the party with the largest support, yet we still got the good old racist Svenska Demokratarna because, frankly there are a lot of racists. Especially down south in the Malmö area.

Le Pen is far right in France, in the US he would be sitting on Newt Gingrich’s lap.
Also, the tremendous success Le Pen has had was to be able to combine forces that were historically extremely fractious. It remains to be seen if his successors will be able to do the same. The 2002 Presidential elections in France are not the greatest tool with which to examine the place of the far right in French politics. Cause Le Pen didnt make a score that much higher than what he used to make in previous elections, it’s the fact that the Left’s candidate was behind him that was a shock, and that it made possible to have Le Pen in the second row.
The scores the Front National makes in legislative and mayor elections are way more telling if you want to know if the country is sliding to the far right.
Basically Le Pen is to France what the Tea Partiers are to America, and they’re not hovering at one percent.

Again, you confuse “Europe” with a homogenous entity. Each country is different, with different voting systems, and very different cultural and historical circumstances between them. I realise this might be difficult for you to get your head round, because some of the countries are so small, but it genuinely is true. Austria votes a far-right leader into power while right next door in Hungary the far right is merely a dangerous but entirely fringe movement that causes riots. Every country in Europe very different.

If you’re looking for a trend, however difficult it is to apply one for the above reasons, I would speculate that it is because many European conservative parties are in fact far less right wing than the US equivalent, so the extremists are less well catered to than in the US.

Besides, our fringe right, such as David Duke, just run as Republicans (and previously a Democrat).

Err yeah. Most Western European countries have a far right fringe that’s seen as an embarrassment. America has a far right that regularly gets elected into power under the aegis of the “Republican Party”.

(Though many countries in Eastern Europe and the Balkans do have major problems with far right parties and far right politics, witness Hungary, for instance.)

Quoted for truth.

In my opinion, members of the traditional conservative parties of Scandinavia (and probably also the German CDP and some of GB’s Tories although I don’t know their politics in detail) would feel quite at home in the Democratic party in the US. The largest parties on the left side of center, the Social Democratic (Labor) parties are - quite correctly - considered to be somewhat left-center in our political landscape, but nowhere near radical socialist. Even if they’d probably qualify for the “OMG, commies, OMG, radical socialists” stamp on the west side of the pond.

Cite please because we haven’t.

Quite. The Republican Party has embraced what the main parties in Europe revile.

To echo some of the earlier post, the most ‘right-wing’ party (economically) in the Netherlands (VVD) is often estimated to be at about the level of the Democrats in the US.

Then there is the SGP which is very Christian (actually propagate a theocracy) but also very calm and ‘polite’. These guys are against abortion an d gay marriage, but you will not find them protesting in front of clinics. It is almost like they are happy to be the voice of the small reformed community without having delusions about changing our secular society.

Then there is Wilders’ PVV which is rightwing on migration issues. On other issues (healthcare, care for the elderly) he is very left-wing. I’m not sure where to place him compared to parties in other countries.

As you can see, here are already three ways in which you can define ‘right wing’.

Yeah, the BNP is pretty left wing economically.

I made a similar point re. the NSDAP being economically left wing in this thread, but it didn’t go down too well. :slight_smile:

The conservative, lib-dem and labour parties in the UK are all to the left of Barack Obama and no other party in England has any relevant power.

The UKIP party has had some success in EU elections, they are probably the furthest right “mainstream-ish” party in the UK and even they are seen as borderline extremists.

You need to re-calibrate your right-ometer before you venture outside the USA.

I’d say that’s about correct.

And they’ve been at a steady 2 - 3 seats (out of a 150) in parliament for decades. IOW, they’re stable, but have no practical influence when it comes to their more extreme stand points.

Aside from their immigration stance (and the general “strong law and order” posturing), the anti-left rhetoric of the PVV is also very strong - more or less on par with the Republican party I’d say. Even though, as you say, technically their economic program is pretty leftish even by Dutch standards - but since the PVV is in a position of plausible deniability right now I don’t know how much of their economic program they’re actually committed to.

Trying to compare political parties across national boundaries is a sucker’s game. Every country has its own priorities, its own system of political discourse, and its own hot-button issues. Looking for some “universal Left” or “universal Right” is bit of 19th-Century philosophical residue, and is pointless in the real world. It’s comparing apples and ball bearings.

True. The BNP in many ways the traditional/old-fashioned working mans party, essentially a Racist Old Labour.

In Europe the term far-right is usually applied to the facist / racist parties. ASFAIK there is nobody that even qualifies as fringe who believes in the crazier American right-wing stuff like libertarianism. I’d put it down to having a different relationship with our governments over here and a perhaps a more pragmatic stance when it comes to ideology.

The other social issues that are primarily associated with the right in the US are not particularly good indicators in Europe. Abortion for instance is only an issue in Catholic countries and there are few (ASFAIK) non-fringe parties left in central Europe that actively campaign against gay rights.