Friday, June 19, 2009

Fascist? Maybe not. Racist and Nationalist? Definitely

Paul Wells and Mark Steyn have warring columns over at Macleans. Steyn is a tad worried about the success of far-right racist parties in the recent European elections. Wells sees it as a meaningless blip. I think the two are both right and both wrong. Mr. Steyn is right to be concerned about the rise of the these parties. Wells is right that the problem is not exactly unmanageably large as yet. A couple of small points of disagreement with Wells. If he's going to accuse Steyn of stretching the numbers, he shouldn't do it himself. Wells argues that "fascist" parties won only 26 or 3.5% of the 736 seats available. While technically true, it is a distorted picture. One must remember that the largest electoral prize in Europe, Germany, is off-limits to such parties for obvious historical reasons. If you count how these parties did in the rest of Europe, the number rises to 4%. Of course, I'm not sure why either writer limits themselves to just non-aligned parties. This limited view of things ignores parties that are technically more "mainstream" but often equally as xenophobic parties such as Italy's Northern League and Denmark's Danish People's party (11 seats between the two). Those two parties alone raise the total of radical right wing MEP's to 5% of the total and 5.8% outside of Germany. Of course, this does not represent the toal vote for these parties as many, such as Sweden's Swedish Democrats, fell short of winning seats. In otherwords, while we are probably not witnessing the rise of the next Franco or Mussolini, one shouldn't understate the rise of the far-right in European politics.

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