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|첨부파일: 2014 1 5 Turning Right.hwp|
Europe’s populist insurgents
Parties of the nationalist right are changing the terms of European political debate. That does not guarantee them lasting electoral success
Jan 4th 2014 | MONTELIMAR, PARIS AND THE HAGUE |
IN A café on a tree-lined boulevard in Montelimar, a southern French town best-known for its sticky nougat, Julien Rochedy is working on his speech. Young, fashionably bearded and sporting both a well-cut suit and a braided black bracelet, he might be finalising a business presentation, or the launch of a fashion brand. In fact, Mr Rochedy is preparing for a public meeting of the National Front, the right-wing party led by Marine Le Pen.
The National Front (FN) has no local office in Montelimar, nor any historical hold here. The town’s narrow streets carry no posters for the evening’s meeting. But in France’s 2012 presidential election, Ms Le Pen grabbed 21% of Montelimar’s first-round vote—more than she did nationwide. So the FN is fielding Mr Rochedy as a candidate in the mayoral elections to be held in March. “I’ve come here a bit like a missionary,” he says cheerfully. That evening a few hundred people turn out, curious to hear Mr Rochedy and his star guest, Marion Maréchal-Le Pen, the 24-year-old niece of the party leader and one of the FN’s two deputies in parliament.
Mr Rochedy, author of a book on the decadence of the West and admirer of Nietzsche, is part of a phalanx of young candidates recruited to become the new face of the FN. Under Ms Le Pen’s thuggish father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, the party lurked reviled on the far right of politics. For his daughter, decontaminating the brand is part of a programme which she sees as preparing the party, in the past always a protest vote, for real power. Her anti-elitist, anti-Brussels, anti-immigrant stance is playing well with a significant fraction of her countrymen—as are similar messages from charismatic right-wing insurgents across the continent.
The voice of the people
In May voters across the 28-member European Union will elect 751 deputies to the European Parliament. Polls suggest that the FN could win a plurality of the votes in France. The United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) has similarly high hopes, as does the Freedom Party (PVV) in the Netherlands. Anti-EU populists of the left and right could take between 16% and 25% of the parliament’s seats, up from 12% today. Many of those votes will go to established parties of the Eurosceptic left. But those of the right and far right might take about 9%. And it is they, not the parties of the left, who are scaring the mainstream.
The response of the political establishment to a tide of anti-European populism which draws on anti-immigrant feeling and antipathy towards Islam has mostly been to evoke the 1930s and hope for revulsion to take its course. “We should not forget”, said José Manuel Barroso, head of the European Commission, “that in Europe, not so many decades ago, we had very, very worrying developments of xenophobia and racism and intolerance.”
It is true that some anti-EU parties are toxic. The most sinister is Golden Dawn, which holds 18 seats in the Greek parliament. Despite claiming to have moved beyond its neo-Nazi roots, the movement uses a swastika-like logo, plays the “Horst Wessel Lied” at rallies, and puts its members through military-style training. Its leader, Nikos Michaloliakos, is in jail awaiting trial for association with a criminal gang after the murder of a left-wing anti-fascist rapper.
Squatting on the borders of respectability is Jobbik, now the third biggest party in Hungary’s parliament. Like many parties widely regarded as belonging to the far-right, it rejects the label in favour of “radical nationalist”. The party denies that it is racist or anti-Semitic; yet Marton Gyongyosi, one of its deputies, declared a year ago that it was time to draw up a list of Jews in parliament and government, on the ground that they represent a “certain national security risk”. He later apologised, but the damage was done.
To raise the spectre of a return to 1930s fascism, however, is “not the right question,” argues Catherine Fieschi, director of Counterpoint, a British think-tank. Most of Europe’s populist parties either have no roots in the far right or have made a conscious and open effort to distance themselves from such antecedents. A better question is how far these parties can use popular dissatisfaction to reshape Europe’s political debate, and whether they can use that influence to win real power.
That they are disparate there can be no doubt; they vary hugely according to local tastes, traditions and taboos. Take the FN and the PVV. Late last year their leaders, Ms Le Pen and Geert Wilders, began a political courtship with an eye to creating a new parliamentary group after the European elections. But the PVV is ardent in its support for Israel, while the FN has an anti-Semitic past. The PVV is in favour of gay marriage; the FN marches against it. The PVV sees Islam as a totalitarian danger around the world; the FN frets not over the religion’s basic tenets but only about the “Islamification” of France.
Elsewhere some on the populist right—Belgium’s Vlaams Belang, Italy’s Northern League—want regional autonomy within the EU while others—UKIP and the Finns Party—reject EU membership outright. Those not stained by direct descent from a racist past distinguish themselves from those that are. That is why the FN does not sit in the Eurosceptic group in the European Parliament that UKIP and the Northern League belong to, and why a deal between the PVV and the FN could herald quite an institutional shake-up.
What they all have in common is that they are populist and nationalist, that they have strong views on the EU, immigration and national sovereignty, and that as a result they are doing very well in the polls.
The euro-zone crisis, and its aftermath, goes some way to explaining why—but it is far from a complete answer. The populist right is nowhere to be found in austerity-battered Spain and Portugal. But it thrives in well-off Norway, Finland and Austria. Between 2005 and 2013, according to calculations by Cas Mudde, at the University of Georgia, there are almost as many examples of electoral loss for parties of the far and populist right (in Belgium, Italy and Slovakia, among others) as there are of gain (in Austria, Britain, France, Hungary, the Netherlands).
But if euro-zone economics are not a full explanation, the crisis has been crucial to setting the scene for the potent new pairing of old nationalist rhetoric with contemporary Euroscepticism. Across Europe disillusion with the EU is at an all-time high: in 2007 52% of the public said it has a positive image of the EU; by 2013 the share had collapsed to 30%. The new identity politics is a way of linking the problems of Europe and those of immigration. It also taps into concerns about the way globalisation, defended by the mainstream political consensus, undermines countries’ ability to defend their jobs, traditions and borders.
The parties play on a nostalgia for simpler times that appeals to some older voters; but their pitch also works well with younger voters for whom Europe’s dark past is the stuff of history textbooks, not their or their parents’ experience. Some of them are more comfortable voicing ideas that their elders either reject or pass over in silence; a study of Facebook fans of populist parties by Demos, a British think-tank, found that those aged 16-20 years were twice as likely as the over-50s to cite immigration as the reason for their support. Fully 55% of French 18- to 24-year-olds say that they would not rule out voting for the FN, according to a recent poll by the Union of Jewish Students in France.
Young or old, populist parties speak to an electorate which Dominique Reynié, an academic at Sciences-Po in Paris, sees as “existentially destabilised”: confused and anxious about what they belong to, where their country is heading, and whether their leaders can do anything about it. Most of these parties deny vigorously that in giving these anxieties voice they are merely acting as outlets for protest votes. But protest is nevertheless their theme. “We want our country back,” demands UKIP’s leader, Nigel Farage. “Less Europe, more Holland,” says Mr Wilders.
The problem the populist parties face is that when this sort of protest gains traction its themes can quite easily be grabbed by the mainstream right. When those parties move towards the populists, the populists risk getting swamped even as their messages become mainstream—or, if they attempt to keep a radical edge, being forced back on to the fringes. The tension between influence and power may make the parties’ growth self-limiting.
Populist parties that make it into national parliaments can further their agendas by deft horse-trading. From 2001 to 2011 the Danish People’s Party under Pia Kjaersgaard swapped parliamentary support for a succession of centre-right minority coalitions for tighter legislation on immigration. They can also hope to move beyond single issues and get into government. To the consternation of liberal Scandinavians, Norway’s nationalist-right Progress Party, which secured 16% of the vote at recent parliamentary elections, has been welcomed into a minority coalition government. Its leader, Siv Jensen—a sort of Norwegian Marine Le Pen, who talks about the “rampant Islamification” of Norway—has become the finance minister.
But even where mainstream parties rule out alliances, as France’s centre-right UMP does with the FN, the populist right can prompt established politicians to sound a tougher note, thereby legitimising some of the thoughts and vocabulary that once belonged only to the extremes.
The best example of how the new nationalism can pull the political debate in its direction by getting others to ape it is offered by UKIP. It has ten seats in the European Parliament (one of them Mr Farage’s) but none in Westminster; it secured just 3% of votes in the 2010 general election. Yet, as Heather Grabbe of the Open Society think-tank in Brussels points out, good poll numbers and impressive showings in by-elections have been enough to give its views potency, strengthening the hands of hardline Eurosceptics in the Conservative Party. As a result David Cameron, the Conservative prime minister, has promised a referendum on British membership of the EU. He also sounds an increasingly hardline note on immigration from the EU, and on the need to clamp down on “welfare tourism”. The opposition Labour Party, relaxed in the past about open borders, now promises to be tougher, too.
This success is largely Mr Farage’s. His canny deployment of saloon-bar blokeishness as common sense is the most potent tool of a party which lacks any strength-in-depth and is prone to chaotic squabbling behind the scenes. His importance is typical of the populist parties’ heavy reliance on one-man brands.
Mr Wilders in the Netherlands is the best example. With his distinctive thick silver mane, he is not just the face of the PVV: he is (rather oddly) its only registered member. In the ten years since he founded the party he has consistently courted controversy, calling Islam “a totalitarian religion” and the Koran “a fascist book”. In 2011 he was acquitted on a charge of incitement to racial hatred; he is himself undoubtedly hated by some, to the extent that he has a permanent security detail and unusually strict procedures for visitors. In the corridor outside his parliamentary office, two bodyguards sit on a black-leather sofa next to a potted plant; a poster of Margaret Thatcher hangs on the wall.
Mr Wilders exudes a focused self-confidence, sensing what he calls an “historical moment”: “I really believe that our generation of politicians can for the first time make a difference and get back what belongs to us, which is national sovereignty.” Today, the PVV has 15 seats in the 150-seat lower house of parliament, with a suite of offices there, and ten in the 75-seat Senate. Mr Wilders successfully used his party’s votes to back, and then let fall, a minority centre-right coalition government, and to secure a clampdown on immigration and asylum-seeking. Now he hopes to go further. “I think we have really the best chances of becoming the main party in the Netherlands,” he breezily declares.
Mr Wilders keeps a tight grip on party ideology—his blog and Twitter account are the party’s most direct way of communicating policy. And he is in complete control of its strategy. Thus the decision to invite Ms Le Pen to visit The Hague was his alone—and not, it seems, an easy one. A Zionist, Mr Wilders says that in the past he had considered it too big a risk to reach out to the FN, “and maybe it still is”. But having heard Ms Le Pen disown her father’s views—Jean-Marie Le Pen once referred to the Holocaust as a “detail” of history—he is taking her at her word.
Though this highly personalised form of politics has worked well so far, it hardly looks sustainable in the long term. The PVV has suffered several defections; two prominent ex-policemen who were among the PPV’s most visible and charismatic members of parliament said that they had had enough of Mr Wilders’s autocratic style. If popular parties are to survive their founders they need more conventional structures.
Ms Le Pen—who, like Mr Wilders, oozes confidence—is setting about doing just that. Like Mr Farage, she has little by way of an elected power base; the FN has only two deputies in the French parliament, and controls not a single town in France. Yet she has both the governing French Socialists and the opposition centre-right on the run. She is building on strength in the once-Communist industrial north, but also making a new push in southern towns like Montelimar—in October the FN won a stunning by-election victory in Brignoles, not that far away. Ms Le Pen’s ambition, she says with a wide grin, is to be “at the Elysée in ten years’ time”.
To “de-demonise” the party, she has rid it of its jackbooted types and denounced Nazism as an “abomination”. She rails not against Muslims but “Islamification”, drawing on deep-seated secular French principles to justify her condemnation of religious expression in public places. As a 45-year-old divorced mother of teenagers, Ms Le Pen gives the party a more modern feel by her presence alone. And when she speaks, she is heard by the public at large, not just followers at rallies. Whereas her father was treated by the media as a pariah, she is a frequent guest on news shows. “The image, or the caricature, of a movement of violent macho men has completely disappeared,” she insists.
The quest for respectability has been uneven. Ms Le Pen rejects outright the suggestion that there is anything racist about the party today. Yet the FN recently had to suspend one of its municipal candidates for posting a photomontage of Christiane Taubira, the black justice minister, next to that of a monkey on Facebook. Ms Le Pen herself once compared Muslims praying in the French street to the Nazi Occupation.
Her strategy also involves trying to deepen party expertise in a bid to earn policy credibility—not a voters’ worry today, but possibly one tomorrow. She has recruited three graduates of the elite Ecole Nationale d’Administration to her team; the fact that she wants such énarques, and that there are énarques happy to work with her, signals seriousness. And she has lined up scores of young candidates, such as Mr Rochedy in Montelimar, to stand at municipal polls. The idea is to secure them local experience to prepare for bigger ambitions in the future.
Ms Le Pen seeks to resolve the tension between campaigning as an outsider and aspiring to govern by insisting that she is “not against the system”, only the cosy mainstream consensus: “The left and the right that says the same” and is in favour of globalisation and the euro. Another way to deal with the tension is not to move too fast. Sylvain Crépon, at Nanterre University, argues that the FN would be quite happy with limited electoral success this year: enough progress to look good, not so much as to end up mired in the messy compromises the exercise of power would bring.
Ms Fieschi at Counterpoint argues that the tension between the moderation needed for power and the outsider status that attracts a dispirited public makes such parties “fundamentally unstable” in a way that limits their growth. As Matthew Goodwin at Nottingham University points out, Austria’s Freedom Party imploded after it joined government in 2000 because it could not manage the conflict between protest and power. On this analysis, Europe’s populists may be near the height of their influence. Were the economy to recover and unemployment to drop, their message might fall on less receptive ground. Within the European Parliament, rivalry between them may thwart their high hopes for influence. Ms Le Pen sniffs that UKIP “is a bit too immature” to see beyond the caricature of her party.
For the time being, however, a battered Europe is fertile terrain. There is little sign yet of a sustained drop in joblessness, nor decisive economic recovery. Back in the Montelimar café, the patron turns out to be an FN supporter too. “We’re not a racist party,” he insists. His grudge, rather, is against Europe, the euro and the complacent leaders who “got us into this mess” in the first place.