The Rise of Europe’s Far Right: Springtime for Europe’s Fascists

The Rise of Europe's Far Right: Springtime for Europe's Fascists" explores the surge of far-right parties, signaling a potential rightward shift in Europe's political landscape. Concerns arise from Germany's far-right party, AfD, and its popularity driven by issues surrounding illegal immigration and rising crime rates. Europe's far-right parties pose a challenge to the continent's political stability.

“The Rise of Europe’s Far Right: Springtime for Europe’s Fascists” explores the current surge of far-right political parties across Europe, signaling a potential rightward shift in the continent’s political landscape. While far-right parties have historically experienced electoral success only to eventually implode, the rise of Germany’s far-right party, Alternative for Germany (AfD), raises concerns about Europe’s political stability. The AfD’s recent popularity can be attributed to issues surrounding illegal immigration and rising crime rates, which have fueled fears that the government has lost control of Germany’s borders. Furthermore, Germany’s economic downturn and the impact of Russia’s war on Ukraine have contributed to the rise of AfD, despite the party’s lack of a charismatic leader. The article also draws parallels with Austria’s far-right Freedom Party, which currently leads national polls and serves as a model for the AfD. Overall, Europe’s far-right parties pose a significant challenge to the continent’s political landscape and stability.

The Rise of Europes Far Right: Springtime for Europes Fascists

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The Rise of Europe’s Far Right: Springtime for Europe’s Fascists


These are heady times for Europe’s far right. Illegal immigration is on the rise, the economy is struggling, and the war in Ukraine has fueled conspiracy theories. These factors have contributed to the growing success of far-right parties in Europe, leading to concerns about a significant rightward shift in the political landscape. While it may be tempting to dismiss this as a recurring pattern, there is a key difference this time: Germany is at the heart of the surge.

Heady times for Europe’s far right

Far-right parties in Europe, including Giorgia Meloni’s Brothers of Italy and France’s National Rally, are experiencing a surge in popularity, with some even gaining power. This rise has raised fears of a significant rightward shift in the political landscape across the continent. However, history has shown that far-right parties often experience internal divisions and ultimately implode, leading some to question the sustainability of their success.

A tectonic rightward shift in Europe’s political landscape

Germany’s central role in the rise of the far right is a cause for concern. While it may not be surprising for smaller countries like Finland or Belgium to veer to the far right, Germany’s political shift carries more weight. The rise of the anti-immigrant party Alternative for Germany (AfD) has nearly doubled its support in the past year, reaching more than 20 percent in recent polls. The AfD currently holds the second-largest share of support, just five percentage points behind the center-right Christian Democrats.

The Rise of Europes Far Right: Springtime for Europes Fascists

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Germany’s central role in the rise of the far right

The success of the AfD can largely be attributed to the issue that has defined far-right parties across Europe: migration. Germany has seen a dramatic surge in illegal immigration, leading to concerns that the government has lost control over the country’s borders. This rise in immigration has coincided with an increase in violent crime, with foreigners accounting for a significant portion of crime suspects. These circumstances have fueled the perception that migrants pose a significant threat to public security.

The rise of the Alternative for Germany party (AfD)

The AfD’s rise in popularity can also be attributed to the infighting and disarray within the governing coalition led by Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s Social Democrats. Persistent disagreements over various policies have weakened the coalition and opened the door for the AfD to gain support.

The primary driver of the AfD’s success: migration

Migration has been the primary driver of the AfD’s success, with the surge in illegal immigration fueling concerns among many Germans. The country has seen a significant increase in migrants attempting to enter illegally, leading to a loss of control over immigration. This issue resonates strongly with voters and has helped the AfD gain support.

The surge in illegal immigration and crime in Germany

Germany has experienced a marked rise in illegal immigration, with a significant increase in arrests of migrants attempting to enter the country illegally. The rise in illegal immigration has coincided with an increase in violent crime, leading many to make a connection between the two. Police statistics show that foreigners accounted for nearly a third of all registered crime suspects in 2022, despite making up just 16 percent of Germany’s population.

The impact of Germany’s economic downturn

Germany’s recent economic downturn has added fuel to the fire, further buoying the far-right AfD. The party has capitalized on the rhetoric that the ongoing war in Ukraine is negatively impacting Germany’s economy. The loss of Russian gas imports and the impact of western sanctions on German exports to Russia have been cited as contributing factors to the economic decline. The AfD’s message resonates strongly in regions like the former communist east, where the party enjoys significant support.

The lack of a charismatic leader in the AfD

Unlike many other far-right parties in Europe, the AfD lacks a charismatic leader to rally support. The party’s current leaders serve more as administrators than standard bearers, lacking the charisma and popularity of figures like Giorgia Meloni or Marine Le Pen. This lack of a dominant leader has raised concerns within Germany’s political establishment.

The emergence of Björn Höcke as a dominant figure in the AfD

Despite lacking a charismatic leader, the AfD faces the emergence of Björn Höcke, the party’s leader in the eastern state of Thuringia. Höcke is an ideologue with extreme views on race and migration, reminiscent of fascist rhetoric from the 1930s. While Höcke may not be popular with the general public, his influence within the party’s base is significant. He has successfully promoted his acolytes within the party, indicating a possible future shift towards his nativist philosophy.

The parallels with Austria’s Freedom Party (FPÖ)

The rise of the AfD in Germany bears similarities to the far-right Freedom Party (FPÖ) in Austria. The FPÖ, which shares a similar platform with the AfD, has been leading national polls and is favored to win the next general election. This parallel is noteworthy considering that last summer, the FPÖ was in a similar position as the AfD currently is in the polls.

In conclusion, the rise of Europe’s far right, particularly in Germany, is causing concern for the continent’s political stability. The AfD’s success can be largely attributed to the issue of migration, as well as the country’s economic downturn. The lack of a charismatic leader in the party has opened the door for the emergence of figures like Björn Höcke, whose extreme views could shape the AfD’s future trajectory. The parallels with the Freedom Party in Austria highlight the potential long-term impact of the far right in Europe.