EUROPE’S NEW FAULTLINE

Perceptive analysis of the rise of UKIP et al….

Pandaemonium

The Front National is expected to win next week’s European election in France; UKIP may well do so in Britain. Both parties combine a visceral hostility to immigration with an acerbic loathing of the EU, a virulent nationalism and deeply conservative views on social issues such as gay marriage and women’s rights. The problems that such parties pose for mainstream politics goes, however, far beyond the odiousness of their policies. What their success expresses is the redrawing of the political map in Europe, and in ways in which mainstream parties often do not understand. The new populists seem to thrive on different political rules to mainstream parties.

Take UKIP. The electoral threat it poses to both Tory and Labour has in recent weeks led to a fierce assault from mainstream politicians of all hues and from the media. UKIP leader Nigel Farage has been accused of misusing his expenses and…

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7 Responses to “EUROPE’S NEW FAULTLINE”

  1. Anton Garrett Says:

    The British equivalent of the French Front National is the odious BNP rather than UKIP.

    • What are the main differences between the BNP and the UKIP?

      • Anton Garrett Says:

        In short, BNP are National Socialists; UKIP are democrats who regard the EU as undemocratic and unreformable so get out. As far as immigration goes, which is where a lot of heat in the debate is, I believe that BNP want to restrict it on grounds of race; UKIP on grounds of skills or lack thereof. As far as policy within Britain goes, BNP are quite Statist (which is why I called them National Socialists); UKIP less so.

  2. Adrian Burd Says:

    I suspect the more reasonable politicians might learn a lesson or two by casting their gaze over t’other side of the pond. These strongly conservative, right wing groups use the dialogue of fear to great effect. In addition, they will throw anything and everything at their opponents who then have to spend time refuting such allegations no matter how ridiculous or stupid they are (e.g. Karl Rove’s recent remarks that Hillary Clinton might have brain damage). In fact, Rove’s remarks have become so ridiculous lately that even Bill O’Reilly, a stalwart Fox News crazy-anchor, had a go at him the other night. It’s a similar tactic to that used by science-deniers and is difficult to respond to on a rhetorical level unless you’re someone like Bill Nye.

    I hope your more reasonable politicians of all parties can deal more effectively with these new right-wing candidates more effectively than they have done over here.

  3. “The Front National is expected to win next week’s European election in France; UKIP may well do so in Britain.”

    “Win the election” in the sense of “get the most votes”, perhaps. However, the elections to the European Parliament use proportional representation, even in the UK. They will get a number of seats proportional to the number of people who voted for them. Whether you like them or not, this is more democratic than first-past-the-post, an essentially two-party system, the swingometer etc.

    Some people have praised the two-party system because it keeps out fringe parties. But consider two things: First, if the fringe becomes a majority (admittedly difficult in a two-party system, but it has happened a few times), then by the same token practically no-one else is represented. Also, the same argument is used by those in favour of a one-party system.

    • Anton Garrett Says:

      In the first half of the 20th century Britain changed from being a mainly 2-party system comprising Conservative (Tory) and Liberal to a 2-party system comprising Conservative and Labour.

      • Right, it can happen. The US changed from Democrat-Republican (later called Democrat) and Federalist to Democrat and Republican (i.e. Lincoln). Third parties have always existed, of course, but are disadvantaged. They usually revolve around an idea or a person and die out when the idea is no longer current or the person moves on or dies.

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