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Why is the EU on the brink? The 'heart' of Europe, endangered by civil war
Written by SOT.COM.AL 3 Dhjetor 2023
Geert Wilders may only be the tip of the iceberg. After the radical right's shock election victory in the Netherlands, European elites are nervously scanning the political landscape to predict the near future, and everyone is wondering if a new far-right candidate has any chance in the election.
What is seen is enough to scare any centrist EU-friendly politician to the core: in a long list of European countries, including France and Germany. Hard-line anti-immigration parties, some more extreme than Wilders, are currently leading the polls, or in second place.
Europe's struggle to control illegal immigration and the rising cost of living are nothing new. What is new, however, is the war between Israel and Hamas, which is fueling civilizational tensions in the heart of many European countries with large Muslim populations, analysts tell Politico.
The pro-Palestinian protests certainly worked in favor of far-right leaders, and they know it. However, they do not participate in the all-out crusade of, for example, the Swedish Democrats, who loudly call for mosques to be razed to the ground. In the Netherlands, Wilders, almost forgotten, was leading the Dutch polls in the final days before the general election.
Toning down political messages does not mean that far-right leaders are abandoning their core beliefs and trying to appeal to an electorate that is drifting further to the right. "It has gone beyond immigration ... it is a sense of a clash of civilizations, a sense that there is a clash between Islam and the West," said Jean-Yves Camus, an expert on far-right movements in Europe. The European elections are less than a year away, but this dizzying mix of the migration crisis and the fear of political Islam is making the establishment parties sweat.
After Wilders, the most visible example of a politician hoping to reap the benefits of her political brand is Marine Le Pen. According to an Ifop poll published on October 30, the former lawyer is on track to enter the second round of the next presidential election, where she could beat rival Edouard Philippe by 6 percentage points. The main parties say they cannot be fooled by far-right tactics.
For Macron's troops, Le Pen's decision to join the march against anti-Semitism was not a sign of normalization but a ploy to upset the fragile multicultural balance of a country that is home to Europe's largest Muslim and Jewish populations. . The far right is trying to create a "civilization issue" around the fight against discrimination, said a member of the European Parliament from Renew, who wished to express his position on the sensitive issue on the condition of anonymity. "If they succeed, we have a real problem, we are heading for civil war," he added.
The "stars" of the extreme right
Some analysts say immigration, the Hamas-Israel war, mainstream party fatigue and uncertainty over the war in Ukraine are creating an unprecedented leap to the stars for Europe's far-right parties, as many try to move closer to the center.
In Portugal, the far-right Chega party, founded barely four years ago, has grown to 13.5 percent. In Italy, her strong anti-immigration views have helped Meloni maintain her popularity at an enviable level. In Germany, the AfD is now the second largest party, well ahead of Chancellor Olaf Scholz's Social Democrats and behind the conservative CDU. "It's the perfect time to make a breakthrough, populist movements are growing in other countries and in the US with Donald Trump... there is a sense that something is happening," said Milan Niç, a political analyst at the German Council on Foreign Relations.