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The Surge of Extremism: Examining the Rise of Far-Right Movements in Europe and Latin America

While officially the capital of the Netherlands is Amsterdam, the turbulent days are being experienced in The Hague, known as its de facto capital. It would never have occurred to anyone that Geert Wilders, one of the longest-serving members of the Dutch parliament, openly expressing anti-foreigner sentiments on social media, would one day aspire to the position of the Dutch prime minister. However, with the early elections held on November 22, the Dutch people elevated this interesting figure, known for his extreme right-wing and Islamophobic characteristics, to a position where he could be the sole authority in the country.

The overwhelming victory of the right-wing populist Party for Freedom (PVV) has turned Dutch political history upside down. Wilders’ party PVV achieved the best election result among all parties with 37 seats. Geert Wilders, who has polarized the Netherlands with extreme right-wing and radical ideas for 20 years, is gradually progressing from the opposition ranks to have a say in the government.

However, it will be difficult for Wilders’ party PVV to dictate its program statute, promised to government partners during the election process. This statute is neither in line with the founding principles of other parties nor with the constitution.

It violates the right to freedom of religion stipulated in the Dutch constitution. Wilders wants all new asylum applications to be rejected and dual citizenship criminals to be deported. However, this is not in line with the regulations of the EU and the UN, of which the Netherlands is a member. To be part of the government, Wilders may have to sacrifice a significant portion of his extreme right-wing manifesto.

Wilders may be extreme right-wing, Islamophobic, and populist, but he is not naïve. Since the election success, he has conspicuously tried to adopt a moderate stance. The Dutch media has already begun to talk about a new and completely different Wilders. The 60-year-old Wilders openly stated in a television program that he could make concessions to be part of the government.

Wilders even mentioned that plans to ban mosques, headscarves, and sacred books could be shelved in order to gain broader support from less extreme right-wing sectors. Although his priority is to restrict immigration, some immigrants voted for PVV because he promised improvements in housing and social care areas. However, if Wilders gets what he wants, these promises may be limited to ethnic Europeans only.

For Javier Milei, who won the second-round presidential elections in Argentina, such radical rhetoric is not a priority. Considering his 12% lead over his rival in the first round, this victory is indeed overwhelming.

Identifying himself as an anarcho-capitalist with a belief in private property rights, rejection of government intervention, and a political ideology based on competition and the free market as a fundamental social interaction mechanism, Milei promised to transition to this system to bring prosperity to the people during election campaigns. He pledged to reduce the state by eliminating ministries, cutting expenses, abolishing the central bank, and accepting the US dollar as the national currency.

Like Wilders, Milei and his newly established party must make concessions in the fragmented parliament where they are a minority. These concessions have already begun.

Making a deal with communists is not accepted in an anarcho-capitalist order. The promise to freeze relations with China and Brazil, Argentina’s main trading partners, was mentioned before the elections but is now on hold. Milei’s shift towards pragmatism is evident in his invitation to Pope Francis, whom he previously called a “Jesuit supporting communism” and the “representative of the devil on earth,” to visit the country next year.

Nevertheless, Milei’s presidency is a challenging journey. Because most of the political program he proposes has been tried and failed by Argentina’s military junta and the Mauricio Macri government in the past.

While seemingly Latin America and Europe may not have many common points, the resurgence of the extreme right in different regions of the world can often be attributed to similar reasons. One of the main reasons is the failure of political economies, often referred to as center-left and center-right, which are almost indistinguishable from each other, to create political economies that meet the basic needs of the entire society. Their policies often serve to increase economic inequality and social dysfunction. This inevitably leads voters to turn to extremist alternatives.

When central politics fails in Europe and things go awry, the option turned to is the extreme right. The fragmented and disorganized left becomes an accomplice by not presenting convincing alternative proposals. However, let us not forget that even when these alternatives emerge, they are quickly suppressed and suppressed by political and media institutions.

The ‘Corbyn case’ in the UK is an inspiring example. Jeremy Corbyn’s election as the leader of the British Labour Party in September 2015 is considered one of the most unexpected political developments in modern British history. After the heavy defeat suffered by his party in the general elections on May 7, he not only presented a race for leadership but also succeeded.

Similarly, the fate of Syriza, formed as a political coalition of left and radical left parties facing difficult days against the neoliberal cruelty of the European Union after winning power in Greece, is the same. There is some irony in many far-right groups in Europe seeing the EU as part of the problem.

The rise of the extreme right in Europe is a cause for concern and is feared to become mainstream in nations that were once examples of socio-economic progress. There is concern about the rapid rise of the far-right AfD party in Germany, the locomotive country of Europe. If the next elections in France result in the extreme right Marie Le Pen coming to power, Germany could be next.

You know the concern in the United States. If the outcome of the elections next year leans towards Trump, the world will face a challenging period. Although Latin America is different, it is still distant from neo-fascist tendencies. It is not surprising that Argentine leader Milei is a fan of Israel, but the rest of South America raises its voice to end this genocide against Palestine, unlike Israel.

After Geert Wilders’ election victory, coalition negotiations in the Netherlands are expected to be more complicated than expected. The Party for Freedom won 20 seats in the 2021 elections, now receiving 37 seats with 23.6% of the votes in the 150-member parliament. Since the required number for the formation of a government coalition has not been reached, long negotiations will take place. After the 2021 elections, a 300-day negotiation marathon took place.

One of those who probably rejoiced the most at the victory of the extreme right in Europe is likely Vladimir Putin. For dictators like Putin, Europe urgently needs inclusive policies in order not to rejoice even more.”

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YUKSEL DURGUT
YUKSEL DURGUT
YÜKSEL DURGUT is a journalist with a primary focus on global politics and foreign affairs. He serves as the Foreign Relations Director of the International Journalists Association e.V. and holds the position of Editor-in-Chief at Journalist Post.
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