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The rise of the far-right in Europe and its ramifications | Data

People gather at Republique plaza in a protest against the far-right on July 3, 2024 in Paris
| Photo Credit: AP

French voters face a decisive choice on July 7 in the run-off of snap parliamentary elections that could see the country’s first far-right government since the World War II Nazi occupation — or no party emerging with a majority at all. In Sunday’s first round, the National Rally came first with an estimated one-third of the votes. The New Popular Front coalition that included the center-left, green and left forces polled close to 29% of the vote and came in second place, ahead of President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist alliance.

If the National Rally or the Left alliance gets a majority, Mr. Macron will be forced to appoint a Prime Minister belonging to a new majority. In such a situation — called “cohabitation” in France — the government would implement policies that diverge from the President’s plan. The rise of a far-right party in France has not been sudden. When Mr. Macron was re-elected in 2022, his vote share did not increase in any department. In contrast, his challenger from the far-right National Rally Marine Le Pen’s vote share rose across the country, resulting in the far-right’s best-ever performance. More importantly, the rise of the Right in European politics is not limited to France.

Also Read | The far-right swing in European Parliament elections | Explained

In last month’s European Parliamentary Elections, right-wing and far-right parties achieved their best performance in the legislative body’s history. The far-right European Conservatives and Reformists Group and the Identity and Democracy Group together increased their tally from 118 to 131 seats in the Parliament, while the left-Greens’ seat share was reduced to 53 from 71.

Chart 1 | The chart shows the vote share secured by right-leaning parties in the national-level polls of the U.K. and select countries in the European Union. 

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The vote share of right-leaning parties is increasing at varying degrees of pace in each country. For instance, the vote share of the National Rally increased from just 4% in 2007 to 19% in 2022. The German party, Alternative for Germany, recorded over 10% vote share in the last two elections, with the Sweden Democrats vote share increasing from 2% in 2006 to 20% in 2022 in Swedish polls.

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Given that most such parties have an anti-immigrant stance, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on Wednesday called for vigilance, citing narratives that dehumanise migrants and asylum seekers. One other impact may be on the nations’ views about NATO, and the ongoing-war between Russia and Ukraine.

Also Read | Comment: The spectre of neo-fascism that is haunting Europe

Polls by Pew Survey indicate that in some European countries, positive views about NATO and confidence in Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy have started to decline. In contrast, slight increases in favourable views towards Russia and confidence in Russian President Vladimir Putin were recorded across many European countries in 2024 compared to a year before.

Table 2 | The table lists responses to four questions — Q1: % who have a favourable opinion of NATO; Q2: % who have a favourable view of Russia; Q3: % who have confidence in Mr. Putin to do the right thing; Q4: % who have confidence in Mr. Zelenskyy to do the right thing. The percentage point change in 2024 from 2023 is also listed.

According to Pew Survey, in several European countries, people who have a favourable view of a right-wing populist party in their country see Russia and Mr. Putin more positively than people with unfavourable views of those parties.

Also Read | Turning inward: The Hindu’s Editorial on the rise of far-right parties in Europe

While their support dropped in 2022 and 2023, confidence in Russia and Mr. Putin has climbed back up in 2024 as shown in Chart 3.

Chart 3 | The chart shows the share who have confidence in Russian President, Vladimir Putin, among supporters of right-wing parties.

Note: This article appeared on the print version on July 4, 2024

Source: Pew Research Centre and ParlGov

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