Far-Right Threatens Europe And Global Order – OpEd


It is worrying to see the far-right power gaining in Europe and winning support for its policies which are often nationalistic and populist. Several European countries are governed by far-right parties or alliances. And one thing is clear: these groups now hold positions where they can directly shape policy. The European Union meanwhile, has been weakened by the skepticism that far-right groups have sown. That can’t be good for the immediate and long-term prospects of the continent. At the same time, far-right rhetoric pays for itself in terms of electoral gains, and as long as that’s the case this is going to be an unsuccessful strategy for ending the divisions that have already been baked into European societies for one reason or another. 

To appeal voters to on the far right of the political spectrum, mainstream parties are adopting nationalist platforms. But these positions which threaten the social cohesion that forms the very basis of European democracy, are far from new. And they cannot be limited to Europe: across the globe, politicians on both center-right and center-left have leaned into same the kind of identity politics that can foster division. While the surge in right-wing politics elicits natural concerns about a return to the era of far-right movements and the disastrous destructive practices associated with them, it is far from clear whether they will have these effects over the long term. 

Restrictive immigration policies in the European Union and certain of its member states look set to lead to a decline in global mobility and hence a more fragmented international community. And with many in the European far right reviving the old nationalist language of the pre-period 1945 political leaders in that region are emphasizing the reduction of the growth of the European presence abroad. This is happening at a time when a series of uprisings and civil wars in the Middle East and North Africa has sent millions of people heading across the Mediterranean journeys on that often end in disaster. Meanwhile, well over a million people have traveled overland through the Balkans, heading for Berlin Vienna, and Stockholm.

In addition, the appearance of far-movement Europe is bound to change the political scene in a significant way. This will not only happen within countries individually but it is also going to provoke conflicts between European states on issues related to fundamental rights like the independence of the judiciary freedom of the press, or the protection of people who seek refuge. The Brexit debate in the UK is one example of this. It showed that far-right forces can provoke the kind of geopolitical changes we have witnessed since 2016. What far-right forces can certainly provoke is these forces within the international order that emerged from the ashes of World War II an order rooted in multilateralism, and which too far often in recent years has been denounced as a kind of “globalism” by forces on the nationalist right. 

The strong support the far right gives to protectionist economic policies is an urgent matter. These policies would impact not only our country but also the entire world. The far right both in the United States and elsewhere, threatens to reduce not just our benefits from international trade but also the benefits our global partners enjoy. The promises of President Trump and his supporters to build walls and restrict immigration are already inspiring like-minded forces elsewhere. The far right’s international agenda has consequences for labor markets, demographic trends, and, of course, the global economy, the impact of which could be disastrous and quite long-lasting. 

Moreover, if recent history and current political trends are any indication, the drift towards the right in many parts of the world could further upset ecosystems for the environmental movement. Far-right parties are complicit in hampering international cooperation on issues as important as food safety and as basic as human rights. These parties driven as they are by reappearing nationalistic fervor, prioritize the interests of their supposed above nation most other things. And this, in essence, is what decreasing collaboration on shared threats looks like. The United States, of course, has supplied us with most of the salient examples of what can happen when a nation acts in this way. 

Parties on the far right, criticized by conservatives in the EU for being too middle-of-the-road have gained steam by taking a more forceful stance against the bloc. This emergence of far-right politics in Europe has created widespread political disagreement, even pushing some countries like Hungary Poland, and Austria toward authoritarianism. These developments call into question the promises of European unity put and serious democratic on strain the core political processes of the EU. Seen as a global trend it also creates new kinds difficulties of for international order and issues of international trade. If it is happening in the wealthy stable EU, what might it mean for global interaction?

To conclude, the rise of the far-right in Europe threatens not just the continent itself but the entire global order. Their nationalist risk agendas fracturing international cooperation on issues like climate change trade and human rights. The EU once a symbol of unity, is particularly vulnerable. Far-right dominance could push member states towards authoritarianism and undermine the bloc’s core democratic values. This trend, if not addressed has the potential to destabilize global interaction for years to come.

The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own.


Simon Hutagalung

Simon Hutagalung is a retired diplomat from the Indonesian Foreign Ministry and received his master's degree in political science and comparative politics from the City University of New York. The opinions expressed in his articles are his own.

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