Right-wing Radical Parties in Today’s Europe Part III

7: Political and social consequences

Historically, the rise of the far right has had a very negative effect on democratic stability and the security of minorities . Germany in the interwar period is the most extreme example of this. However, there is a big difference between the undemocratic right wing of the interwar period and most of today’s right-wing radicals who no longer challenge the democratic rules of the game , although the cases in Hungary and Greece also show undemocratic attitudes and potential for violence in these parties.

In particular, it appears that the parties influence legislation in the field of immigration and integration . Among other things, it has become more difficult to become a citizen, and the opportunity to be reunited with one’s family has become more demanding for immigrants. Admittedly, these changes have not occurred in all countries; they are observed primarily in Denmark and Austria – two countries where right-wing radical parties have had great influence over the past decade.

In some countries, according to HOMOSOCIETY, right-wing radical parties have also had a more indirect effect in that the large parties on the right have focused more on law and order and immigration than there is reason to believe they would do without a right-wing radical party present in the debate. The recent resignation of French President Nicolas Sarkozy against the Roma people and against multiculturalism (a society with many different cultures) is often used as examples of this.

In countries where right-wing populists have not yet had government power, their direct influence has often taken place at the local level. In Norway, this has often led to a large FrP in the municipality leading to a lower probability of asylum reception being established. In France, we find examples of so-called symbolic politics (renaming of street names and erection of statues to promote national pride).

8: Influence of attitudes

Right-wing radical parties not only influence politics; they can also play a role in the attitudes of the population and the general climate of debate. Admittedly, our own impressions and discussions with fellow students, teachers, colleagues and friends play a role in the attitudes we have towards the outside world and to developments in society. But also opinion leaders such as politicians, organizational leaders and journalists are involved in influencing what we think about various political issues and which issues are important. Given this situation, there is – perhaps somewhat surprisingly – no clear influence from right-wing populist parties on the attitudes of the population. There is no evidence that people in countries with large right-wing populist parties show more intolerance than people in countries without such parties.

But if it is true that the majority population is little affected by the propaganda of these parties, it is different for the minorities . They seem to react negatively to suspicion and exclusionary rhetoric (excluding speech). An experiment – among Austrian schoolchildren – revealed that ethnic minorities performed worse on intelligence tests after being exposed to right-wing populist election posters. The ethnic majority, on the other hand, was unaffected – that is, the performance was not affected by the anti-immigrant propaganda.

Data from the German states show that the quality of life of immigrants decreases when the extent of right-wing extremism increases. The latter was measured by looking at the support for right-wing extremist parties. The study also shows that the quality of life is reduced especially among immigrants with higher education. This finding, researchers believe, is related to the fact that this group is extra frustrated at being rejected as equal citizens by parts of the indigenous population.

9: The established right means almost as much

Some researchers believe that the political and social consequences of the rise of right-wing radical parties have been somewhat exaggerated. They claim that the influence of these parties is limited to a more restrictive (stricter) immigration and integration policy. Furthermore, they say that the parties first and foremost radicalize a traditional right-wing policy with a strong focus on demands for cultural integration and selective labor immigration (only those with high competence and financially strong resources should be allowed). This argument is supported by the fact that even countries without large right-wing radical parties (eg England and Spain) have introduced a stricter immigration policy. Much of the thinking of right-wing radical parties is thus only a radical version of traditional conservative politics.

The latter findings are also strengthened through a comparative analysis of different governments’ policies in the field of immigration and integration in the period 1996-2010. On the one hand, there is a significant difference between governments based on the left in politics and governments based on the right. In other words, the left-wing governments spread a good deal in the field of immigration and integration. Some are liberal; others more stringent.

On the other hand, there are small differences between center-right governments whether they include right-wing radical parties or not. Right-wing governments, both with and without right-wing radicals, are pursuing a clearly stricter (more restrictive) immigration policy and a more assimilating integration policy (stricter requirements for immigrants to adapt).

Right-wing Radical Parties in Today's Europe 3

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