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Mid-Summer Heatwave of Chaos! The Rise of the Right in Europe this summer.

Updated: Nov 28, 2022

By Grace Sukari and Tahlia Moses

Giorgia Meloni (left) and Marine Le Pen (right)

The United Kingdom’s once narrative of permanence has been re-written into one of unpredictability, with the resignation of Boris Johnson, and the appointment and resignation of Conservative Leader, Liz Truss; one of their 5 Prime Ministers in 6 years. France’s Emmanuel Macron was re-elected as President, defeating the far-right threat of Marine Le Pen. Giorgia Meloni has been named Italian Prime Minister, and is viewed by some as the most far-right leader since Benito Mussolini. With Putin v Zelensky still in full force, Europe has truly been hit by a summer heatwave of right-wing politics.

A month and a half of a political-career chokehold was showcased in Liz Truss’ time as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. Upon first announcement, the feminist ideologies of having a female Prime Minister was praised, however, Truss failed to execute her time in office adequately, and was announced the shortest serving occupant of Downing Street in 300 years. After a rocky start, entering her role whilst mourning the death of Queen Elizabeth II, the Finance Minister under Truss’ government announced a promise to slash taxes for big corporations and high earners, but no plan to execute it. This caused an uneven brawl between the population, and had Truss majorly backpedaling. Consequently, Truss fired the Finance Minister, adding to the count of resignations and dismissals that occurred under her government.

Banks began to act within the interests of mitigating the British Pounds’ tanking valuation, affecting inflation and interest rates, and hitting household pockets. Her $50.6 Billion package with the intention of achieving “growth, growth, growth”, only undermined Britain’s international credibility and increased the cost of everyday living for the population, culminating in Truss’ resignation after just 50 days in office.

Liz Truss Resignation Speech

France’s allies in Washington and Europe are sighing with relief after centrist Emmanuel Macron secured a victory against far-right Marine Le Pen in France’s Presidential Elections. Le Pen is the leader of the National Rally Party. Expelling members accused of racism and antisemitism, Le Pen has tried to take a less nationalistic approach than her father who formerly led this right-wing party, and has advocated for same-sex unions and unconditional abortions to ‘soften her image’. However, Le Pen’s immigration policy, which she planned to have drafted within six months of election, would have eliminated key parts of their 1946 Constitution, including a paragraph which states, “the people of France proclaim anew that each human being, without distinction of race, religion or creed, possesses sacred and inalienable rights''. According to Le Pen’s election manifesto, she would have proposed “to prohibit any form of settlement that aims to alter the identity of France (notably through family reunification, which will become a rare exception)”. Following this anti-immigration mentality, Le Pen claimed she would impose a ban on wearing Islamic headscarves, saying, “People will be given a fine in the same way that it is illegal to not wear your seatbelt.” Her election manifesto went on to say, “I have tabled a bill aimed at combating Islamist ideologies, which are incompatible with our values, our history and our culture, and which stem from a totalitarian vision of social life”.

In the midst of Putin v Zelensky, Le Pen announced her international dealings in weakening France’s relationships with NATO, the European Union and Germany in the event of her victory. Directly threatening attempts to defeat Russia in its war on Ukraine, Le Pen stated she would seek “a strategic rapprochement” with Russia after the war.

The election results saw Marine Le Pen with 41.5% of the vote, who lost to Emmaneul Macron with 58.5%. Although Le Pen lost, far-right ideologies are becoming increasingly recognised, leaving France polarised politically.

Emerging as Italy’s first female Prime Minister, Girogia Meloni has led her far-right, ‘Brothers of Italy’ Party to victory. The ‘Italian Social Movement’, formed by members of Mussolini’s ‘National Fascist Party’, is where the Brothers of Italy Party originates. Despite its roots, Meloni claims that they have “handed fascism over to history for decades now” and “unambiguously condemns the suppression of democracy”. However, she affiliates herself with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, France’s National Rally Party, and Spain’s ‘Vox’ Party; all of which bear far-right ideologies. Meloni advocates for the traditional family unit, endorsing pro-natalist policies to counter Italy’s low birth rates. In a speech she delivered in Spain last June, she gave an insight into her policies, saying, "Yes to the natural family, no to the LGBT lobby, yes to sexual identity, no to gender ideology... no to Islamist violence, yes to secure borders, no to mass migration”. Eugenia Rocella, the new Family and Birth Rate Minister appointed by Meloni, has spoken out against abortion and the rights recently agreed on for same-sex parents.

Her ambiguity is worrying. The more liberal-conservative democrat view she promoted throughout her election campaign showed that she supports NATO and the European Union and Ukraine in its war with Russia. However, she stated that Putin’s Russia “defends European values and Christian identity” in her 2021 book, I Am Giorgia.

In 2018, the Brothers of Italy Party only received 4% of the vote. So how has Meloni formed a majority, gaining 26% this time around? According to Marc Lazar, an Italy Specialist at Sciences Po University, it was how “For a year and a half, whatever discontent Italians have had, it’s had only one outlet: Brothers of Italy”. Similarly to Marine Le Pen, Meloni has ‘softened her image’ and simply tells people what they want to hear, keeping her true intentions close to her chest.

Girogia Meloni becoming Prime Minister

Aside from the ‘mid-summer heatwave’ of right-wing players hitting the political scene, a trend of selecting female, centre left-wing politicians is also emerging, with Kaja Kallas (Estonia), Zuzana Caputova (Slovakia) and Sanna Marin (Finland), to name a few.

Sanna Marin, leader of Finland’s ‘Social Democratic Party’, became Prime Minister at just 34 years old in December 2019. A Senior MP from Finland’s centre-right ‘National Coalition Party’ called Marin “the most left-wing prime minister this country has ever had”. She tackles climate change and an ageing population, aims for sustainable economic growth, high employment and stability, and upholds Finland’s security; culminating in Finland being named ‘the happiest country in the world’ for 5 years. Marin is most commonly known for her furtherance of equality, saying, “In the future we want to do even better when it comes to equality, and not only the equality of men and women, or the genders, but also the equality of minority groups in society.”

Could this surge of female left-wing politicians cool the heatwave of the far-right? Or with Donald Trump set to run for President in the 2024 Elections, will this heatwave reach the United States?

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