Right-wing parties are heading to a twofold increase of the number of their seats in the European parliamentary election. This is according to the latest poll released by Germany's Bild newspaper. Sputnik discussed the results of the poll with Lode Vanoost, a political analyst and former deputy speaker of the Belgian parliament.
Sputnik: How surprised are you by the results of the poll and was it predictable, do you think?
Lode Vanoost: Well, of course, these are polls, not the actual results, but they give a tendency. First of all, I have to say that the rise of the extreme right parties is something that's not started yesterday, it started already way back in the 1990s, long before there was even a refugee crisis, but it sort of got over a critical threshold and they got in the mainstream, and so what we now see is the real breakthrough.
AP Photo / Andreas Gebert
If you look at the reasons why this is happening, well we don't have two hours to speak, so I'll try to be brief, but one thing is that traditional power parties all over Europe: the Christian Democrats, the Social Democrats, the Liberal Democrats, it's always a hyphen Democrats-something, have totally abandoned decent politics. It's not a coincidence that the extreme right always point to corruption, political corruption, and this has been going on and now this the result that we see.
The second thing is, of course, that the mainstream media have totally abandoned any critical role that they are supposed to play within society.
Sputnik: How much is this part of the overall trend of the increase of right-wing populism in Europe? What's your thought on that? Populism does seem to be spreading, doesn't it?
AP Photo / Virginia Mayo
Populism is one of these terms that is being bandied about a lot these days and basically when people accuse others of populism, what they mean is "you're saying things that I not only disagree with, but that I don't want to be voiced, so I try to say ‘oh, he's just a populist'". The term itself when you see back, the in the West, for example, stood for something completely different than what it is now supposed to be.
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Now what I see in the mainstream media is that sort of their analysis, if you call it analysis, is what you now see as extreme left-wing populism and extreme right-wing populism and then they sort of say that the extremes touch each other in a circular way, but the thing is, what they do have in common is they have resistance to the neoliberal project of the European Union for the moment, but the way that they see out of it is totally different.
AFP 2018 / THIERRY CHARLIER
Now for the mainstream media and for mainstream political centre or centre-right parties, what they see is a risk that their system that maintains their privilege is going to collapse, and so what do you do if you don't have arguments, that's the one thing you brandish about, you call them populist — which is not to say that I agree with what the so-called populists are saying, that's also another matter, but I do believe that the word populism is mainly used when you have no argument; that's what you say about other people. It makes no sense, really.
What you should do is talk about the real problems and the real problems are known, they are social, they are economical and, of course, nobody, even me, is denying that there's also this crisis with the influx of refugees. But if you look at the numbers and if you look at the costs to it and if you compare that with the fiscal paradise, the money that's hidden in the fiscal paradises, it comes to nothing, so this is all a consequence of political choices that have been made, that are being made that go against the interests of common ordinary people.
So they don't see that's what people do, and people do desperate things I'm not denying that among those voters there are genuine racist people; they have been around always, even in the 1970s there were parties who were saying things that are racist, xenophobic, islamophobic, anti-Semitic things in the past, but they did not have a following, because ordinary people voted for Social Democrats, Christian Democrats, certainly not liberal.
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But that is all gone, so for the moment what we see in the mainstream is these poor refugees who will steal your social security money, so you should vote for us and then your problem will be solved. But at the same time, these parties will trust social security in another way, so that situation is pretty bleak for the moment; gloomy.
Sputnik: How much could the great representation of right-wing parties in the European Parliament affect European politics in general? Is it going to see a change in strategy from the European political regime or is there going to be a pushback?
Lode Vanoost: It depends on how you use the term pushback; I'm absolutely certain that the traditional parties are going to, in their discourse and their rhetoric, are going to lean even more to the right, but at the same time they're going to take measures to make it more difficult for these extreme parties to function.
AP Photo / Jean-Francois Badias
I'm absolutely sure about that. So the two things do not exclude each other, but the tragedy is what they will not do is concede that the mistake, that the wrong decisions are made by them and that they should change the whole construction of the European Union, socially, economically — and I'm not talking about these things that neoliberal posing as modernist Emmanuel Macron in France is saying — I'm talking about a European Union that's for the ordinary people, not for the multinationals, not for the wealthy elite etc., and that is something that they will never concede. As long as they don't do that, things will get worse.
The views expressed in this article are solely those of Lode Vanoost and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Sputnik.