Is apathy in the electorate fueling a fascist tide in the Western world?

First there was victory for the American jingoists through the chad story in Florida, then the Austrian nationalists rose to government while ‘responsible’ voters stayed at home, closely followed by a landslide victory in Italy for ‘Forza Italia’, while more voters than ever…yes you guessed it; stayed at home. In Denmark the fascist ‘nationalists’ put into power last autumn in much the same way are trying to make countrymen of non-Danish descent second class citizens and they just closed the borders for refugees and immigrants.

Last night while 27.63% of the French electorate (very many by European standards) sat at home or in the cafés, extreme right wing, anti-Semite, anti-Muslim, (anti everything non-white and non-French actually) candidate Jean Marie Le Pen backed by his xenophobic Front National upset the French presidential by making it to the final rounds, were he will face sic! Jacques Chirac of the Gaullist Republicans…who I already thought was trouble with his isolationism and pro nuclear arms testing agendas.

Are we all so disenchanted with politics and so apathetic that we can’t be bothered anymore or is this an expression of what we truly want?

let’s face it, integration haven’t been very successfull. Crime among immigrants are high.
That’s the main reason for Le Pen’s success in the poll

OK Power, thats twice you’ve come into threads and said Immigrant crime is the reason for the FN getting its power.

Please Cite.

While your first assertion may or may not be correct, please provide figures that back up your claims. Furthermore, indicates that Le Pen has recently been playing down the anti-immigration ticket. Why would he bother doing this if popular racism were the sole reason for his success?



‘Integretion’. Big word. ‘Crime amongst immigrants’. Big words.

First of all what is Integration and why do we need it?

With crime amongst immigrants I take it you mean amongst North Africans in the French case. 'Cause we other immigrants have somewhat below par criminal ratios.

More importantly it’s a misconception…crime in the North African population if divided across income levels and social background is about the same as for any other ‘ethnic’ group (whatever ‘ethnic’ group means in a context of continental populations). Except there are more disenfranchised North Africans…I hope that is what you mean by ‘integration has failed’ although I fear something more sinister.

In all cases I see you say, either
a) ‘something must damned well be done against against the inherent criminality of those un-integerated wogs’. (deosn’t imply that you think Le Pen is the solution…but still something must be done)

b) ‘Since we failed to make real Frenchmen out of those bloody wogs, they’re all criminals…and it’s not wonder Le Pen gets some votes…darn good idea at that!’. (firm belief in integration at least implies some sympathy for FN)

Which one is it? The prosepect that you might answer any of them gives me the chills.

Excuse me?

Ok that’s provocative… I agree.

But the Bush fraction of the Republican party isn’t exactly tame on the pro isolationism and pro military front (and I am not talking about the war on terrorism). The escalated trade war with the EU and the resurection of Star Wars and tighter immigration laws already pre 9/11 are good examples.

it’s a pretty well known fact that crime is higher among immigrants (including second generation immigrants) than among “natives”. Especially when it comes to serious crimes like murder, rape, and violence.
The ghettos in France are places where your life is at risk.

A resent gallup in Norway showed that 1 of 4 murders had non-norwegian origin. (under 10% of the population have non-norwegian origin.)
People from Asia/Africa/Middle-East and Balkan are those who are most involves with serious crimes.)

I think gallups in Europe will give similar results.
This is not the only reason for Le Pens success thoug, it must also be seen as a protest against corruption and against globalization, - and the fact that EU are a child of European politicans and not the people.

Really? This isn’t a cite BTW, try proving this. I could say it’s a pretty well known fact that aliens are taking political leaders over and gradually gaining control of the world. It doesn’t make it true.

Also do you think it’s there “non-native” status that leads to their crime or could it be a economic reason? If these people are living in “Ghettos” then can I assume that they are below the average income level for the country? Could this have something to do with any crime rates?

Please cite. Your arguments still come across as being based on the FN party book. You’re oversimplifying all over the place.

I happen to know the of the Study in Norway and it’s shoddy quality (or to be fair to the well meaning authors; it’s corrupted use by racists and xenophobes), again it is not based on full view. Is it then a coincidence that some of the ugliest displays of xenophobia and racism in Europe have recently been seen in Norway.

Is EU a child of the politicians? These politicians…who elected them? And are they not themselves part of the population…you’re scaring me!

And you didn’t answer my previous questions…

But you seem to be answering my original question with both ‘we are indeed disenchanted’ and ‘this is what we want!’ or did I get you wrong?

Sparculees, what we have here is the danger inherent in multi-party systems (not saying that two-party systems don’t have their own problems, or that they are better.)

Multi-party systems generally have the benefit of giving voice to smaller segments of society. But the problem is is that multi-party systems generally lead to compromise - government by the lowest common denominator of what a coalition of parties can agree to in order to rule. The result is apathy - the lowest common denominator tends to be close to the same, regardless of which coalition gains power - and protest - even if I vote for the mainstream party who’s views most closely match my own, my favored policies will be lost in compromise, so I should make a protest vote to shake up the system.

There is not a true trend towards fascism - fascism thrives in times of turmoil, not complacency. It is a trend towards thinking that “my vote isn’t important, so I can play with it.” Hopefully, this result will shock the French enough that they start taking their politics seriously (as well as shock the mainstream enough to start thinking “hey, maybe corruption and self-interest aren’t the best campaign platforms.”)

I realize that the above analysis isn’t directly relevant to the French Presidential election - one man, not a coalition, is the President. But I submit that the combination of the two-step vote and the compromise inherent in the past five years of cohabitation led to the same result.

As for Power-station’s accusations about higher levels of criminal activity amongst immigrants in Europe, he is probably right - but his interpretation is dead wrong. Poverty breeds crime, and immigrants in just about any country tend to be poor. It is not a lack of integration that leads to crime among immigrants, but instead a lack of money (though the two are somewhat related). As immigrants in France become more wealthy and assimilated, crime will go down. The French could make the process easier by acknowledging cultural differences.


Very nice post Sua,

But I am still wondering if it is ‘only’ protest voting that we are seeing. And even if it is… as I said on another thread on the topic:

Votes of disaccord with the policies of Weimar and apathy in the electorate led to the NSDAP entering the Reichstag in 1932…was that a good idea?

And then I can’t ignore all the other places that extremism is popping in its ugly head all of a sudden. I read in Time magazine last week that some estimates show the number of organized Skinheads in Moscow to be at 50,000. The celebrations of Hitler’s birthday organized by the European neo-Nazis across the former East and the Union this past weekend attracted more people than any year post the war. (BTW how sick is it that people of Russian descent celebrate the birth of H after over 10M Russians died at his hands in WW II)

Then add to that elections in Denmark, Norway, Italy, Austria, Belgium, some German states and now France were the extremists are suddenly in government or only a hair’s breadth away from it. Is this not a trend towards ‘extreme rightism’? (I have been sloppy in my use of words…fascism is not correct since it implies a belief in a superior class, as in Mussolini’s Italy or Franco’s Spain while as Nazism and other forms of modern Nationalism border on extreme left wing in their view of class society)

You are off by a bit. In Germany, the issue wasn’t apathy; it was disillusionment. Weimar, having gotten out of hyperinflation just a few years before, was slammed by the Great Depression (which Americans often forget was a worldwide event). Essentially, in fourteen years of democractic Weimar rule, around 8 or 9 coincided with years of severe economic dislocation and a broad-based lessening of the standard of living. Even those intellectually pro-democratic started to think that perhaps a strong hand was needed.
The issue wasn’t disillusionment with democratic parties, but disillusionment with democracy itself - which had very fragile roots in Germany then. It’s important to note that the Communists - the other major anti-democratic party - got nearly the same number of votes in 1932 as the Nazis did.
Slightly different timing, but essentially the same sequence in Italy.

And where are the areas of new, fragile democracy and economic turmoil? The former East and Soviet Union.

Actually, fascism doesn’t imply a belief in a superior class - it implies a belief in a superior nation. Naziism refined this into a belief in a superior race - one that was concentrated in one nation, but not limited to that nation.


I’d be interested to know exactly what definition of “fascist” you’re using. I mean…is Bush a fascist because he’s a jingoist or because he’s an isolationist?

And how exactly does the subjugation of the rights of individuals and business to the interests of the state fit into this?


No doubt am I off by a bit. I was being provocative in a sense. Wise from our past errors I do however find that it is important to look back and realize what the threat is well before we end up at a point beyond return, once again. And although you summarize the Weimar collapse pretty well you forget that on many occassions corruption and self interest shook the foundation of German belief in the budding democracy, much in the way the French elections have been overshadowed. Also do not forget that NSDAP never received more than 21% of the vote, but once they did it the climate of political paulsy resulting from recession, depression, inflation and overwhelming foreign preasure resulting form the Versailles Treaty that Hitler usurped Power in 1933.

Unfortunately the increase in Neo-Naziism is not confined to Eastern Europe although, as you astutely point out they probably pose a greater threat in the post-communist and ailing economies of the former COMECON.

Errrr… well no and yes and sort of, but that’s too simple. First of all neither evolved out of the other, but both developed out of traditional Nationalism, they appeared at about the same time, mid 20s.

You are right about the meaning of the word fascism and this is probably the way it should be used, However, historical fascism believed in autocratic rule that in practice was supported by the old class system, which was the case both in Italy and Spain.

Nazism can only mean the very specific flavor of extremism that ruled Germany from 1932 - 1945. The etymology of the word is a German abbreviation for Nationalsocialistisches Deutsher Arbeiter Partei (The German National Socialist Worker’s Party) which even for a compound word bred German is a mouthful. Hitler’s view on race, peoples, religion and nationalism are so odd and singular that they defy being transported to other situations, why we use Neo-Nazi to describe modern day non-NSDAP varieties of his ideas, focused around the core concept of anti-internationalism and anti-Semitism.

While the Fascists did not deny ownership nor class society, Nazism in doctrine condemned individual ownership and stated that society should be classless, wile they in practice left the owning classes in charge of the production machinery they collectivized and ran through plan economy. Ideas that besides the shrewder implementation are very close to communism. I refer to the remarkable works of Sebastian Hafner who argues the point far better than I can in this short form.

Now modern Nationalism in Europe builds on the National Socialist tradition of being a working class movement opposed to the establishment and perceived class society, and the party programs reflect this. Even if the left and Le pen hate it, his domestic policies in all areas except immigration would have a lot more in common with the Communists and the Trotskyists than the Gaullists.

It would be easier to support the assertion that voter apathy is responsible for fueling the “fascist tide” referred to in the OP, if we could see actual figures showing that significantly lower voter turnout has been occurring in countries experiencing marked hostility toward immigrants (i.e. Italy, Germany, France, Norway).

Lumping in the U.S. was inappropriate, given that we have not been seeing anti-immigrant violence on the levels occurring in Europe, nor have our leading politicians on a national level been talking about an immigration “crisis”. While the U.S. has generated politicians who’ve attempted to cash in on anti-immigrant sentiment, they’ve either been defeated on a statewide level (i.e. David Duke) or failed to garner significant support in seeking their party’s presidential nomination (i.e. Pat Buchanan).

Hearing about the proposed effort by the French Left and Right to band together to defeat Le Pen, I was reminded of the consternation when David Duke won the Republican nomination for the governor’s race in Louisiana. One bumper sticker of the time said “Vote For The Crook (Edwin Edwards) - This Time It’s Important!”.

Maybe the French can adapt the idea to their circumstances.

For the first part… I am not claiming he is. It was a provocative statement to demonstrate that there is a swing towards the far right across the West that I believe comes much from apathy and un-involvement. That’s why I singled Bush out at as jingoist, which I believe he albeit not a fascist.

Further, none of the two make him a fascist but both could arguably make him a nationalist, or patriot as he would prefer to call himself I believe. The value of this is obviously seen differently on both sides of the ocean, explaining why most liberal Europeans find him scary… I expounded on that topic pretty thoroughly in another thread called ‘European View on The USA’ if you want my view on it.

For the last bit read my previous post in response to Sua…

I repeat: He’s not a fascist nor a Neo-Nazi nor a communist in my view. Show me that he is not a jingoist either and I will feel a lot better about the world, but so far that’s what I see when I see him.

That being said I think he performed better than I expected after 9/11, but to keep my illusions alive I always pin that to Mr. Powell and the other liberals in the administration.

The ironi is that many jews gave their vote to Le Pen

And your source for this assertion is ?

In the United States, at least, voter turnout is not related to how far right the victor is. For the election of the “jingoist” Bush, 51.2% of the electorate voted, a 4.4% increase over the percentage in 1996 (2.1% increase in absolute terms). Less than 1/2 the electorate turned out in 1996, and re-elected Clinton, while more than 1/2 turned out in 2000 - and elected Mr. Bush.