Updated 3 months ago

How is 2016 ending for the European far-right?

Anti-immigrant, anti-Europe, anti-Muslim sentiment is resonating with more and more voters in Europe, giving the far-right a chance to go mainstream.

With elections happening in 2017 in the Netherlands, France and Germany there is a growing concern over the populist wave driven in large part by right-wing parties. Parties like Le Front National (FN), Alternative for Germany (AfD) and the Party for Freedom (PVV) are exploiting anti-globalization, anti-immigrant, and anti-Muslim sentiments and tend to be more negative about these issues.

Even if the rhetoric of leaders like Marine Le Pen (FN) and Greet Wilders (PVV) has been key to attracting supporters, there’s a minority of the general public that sympathize with their views in the three countries.

According to a Pew Research Center survey in 10 European Union countries shows this minority view has already become widely shared in Poland and Hungary for example, where there is not much difference in the public sentiment about diversity, immigrants or Muslims between those who favor the ruling right wing parties and those who don’t.

In France, 45% of those who support the FN say diversity makes the country a worse place to live, but only 24% of the overall French population believe it does. Nonetheless, 34% of those supporting the center-right Republicains agree with FN supporters. On most, FN supporters are far more negative but the anti-diversity sentiments among Republicains bears watching.

In Germany 6 in 10 people who have a favorable view of the AfD express that diversity is bad for their country, compared to 3 in 10 of the general population, but 39% of supporters of Angela Merkel’s CDU/CSU party think diversity is bad.

In the Netherlands those who favor the view of Geert Wilders party are more negative about “the other” than the general Dutch population. More than 6 in 10 of this party’s supporters said diversity made the country a worse place to live, compared to 3 in 1oof the overall public.

When speaking about the European Union about 7 in 10 PVV supporters are negative about the EU (compared to 46% of the general public) and 6 in 10 believe some EU powers should be returned to The Hague (compared to 44% of the overall population).

Among Germans, two-thirds of AfD supporters have an unfavorable view of the EU and 6 in 10 want some power returned to Berlin. This compares to the 48% of the general public that sees the EU as unfavorable and 43% who want powers returned to the capital.

France instead is something of an exception. 67% of FN backers have a negative view of the EU, but so does 61% of the general French population. Similarly, 47$ of FN backers want some powers returned to France as do 43% of the Republicain supporters and 39% of the overall public.

The right-wing populist sentiment is also characterized by skepticism of globalization. In France more than half of FN supporters believe France’s involvement in the global economy is bad, as do 45% of the general population. In the Netherlands, 43% of PVV backers say global economic engagement is bad, compared to 24% of the general public. In Germany only 24% of its general population believe globalization is not good compared to 38% of those who favor the AfD.

With the Dutch election scheduled for March 2017, French election taking place in April and May and the German election likely happening in September it is still too early to know how their respective right-wing populist parties will do. But based on current opinion data they’ve already succeeded in rallying substantial voters based on the anti- sentiment.

Also, center-right politicians such as Angela Merkel and Francois Fillon have begun to back views that are more anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim than heard before in someone running for national office.

For the European far-right 2016 seems to have ended favorably, with populist appeals resonating more and more with voters in Europe  and the Brexit and US elections setting the international tide.


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