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how the collapse of social democracy and legacy liberal parties relate to the far right

Reader comment on item: In Defense of Europe's So-called Far Right

Submitted by myth (Germany), Jan 20, 2015 at 05:43

I see two political changes that have been shaping politics across Europe for the last ten years. Both relate to the new far right.

One concerns the legacy liberal parties. The European new far right parties traditionally spawn from the liberal parties. Those legacy parties are in decline. Whether it is UKIP replacing the LibDems in the UK, the Alternative für Deutschland replacing the FDP or the Dutch PVV overtaking the VVD. Geert Wilders himself illustrates this trend as a former MP within the VVD who founded his very own party, The German FDP illustrates the decline of legacy liberal parties. The FDP had been in government for decades and had traditionally provided the foreign minister. Lately they fell below the 5% mark and out of the Bundestag.

The second change comes with the all-European decline of Social Democracy. Over ten years ago New Labor ideas in the UK and the harsh social welfare cuts the German SPD introduced that change. I would call this the original sin of Social Democracy toward their base. As a result in Germany the Social Democrats lost their inherited electorate and remain far below the 40%. No chance to regain government.

Both changes in Germany left the Christian Democrats as the only party capable of crossing the 40% mark. Now the public is discontent over the EU, immigration policies and domestic security. The Christian Democrats as the center-right majority face its very own original sin should they disappoint on their core competency of domestic security. If that happened sustainable political power and stability would disappear. The center right, educated by the fate of Social Democracy, feels that if they lost votes to the far right. they would never get them back.

In terms of left-and-right the Center-right moved to the left, the Center-left moved to right. The legacy liberals make way for the new far-right. It is now for the Center-right to react and choose from two possible options. One is to ignore and exclude the new far-right. That's what we are seeing now.

The other would be to embrace the new far-right in a coalition government and choke them in the messy day-to-day politics.The PVV in The Netherlands survived such an attempt. I agree that Geert Wilders is the most important politician in Europe.

I equally recommend to include all the positions of all the population in the political process and not exclude a substantial part of the population from representation. I have a feeling that many of the talking points of the new far-right will define the centrist view twenty years from now.


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Daniel Pipes replies:

Thank you for the important analysis.

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