The shadow of Ukraine, with all the already-evident ramifications on the situation and effects in Europe, certainly provides new motivation for the right, which in the period ahead will be tangibly expressed in various spheres, from geopolitics to culture
The most recent major success of the left in Europe was achieved a year ago, with the victory in Germany of the socalled “Traffic light coalition” of the Social Democratic Party, the Greens and the Free Democratic Party. After that, in the first half of this year, the right-wing Fidesz – Hungarian Civic Alliance won Hungarian elections convincingly. Poland’s ruling Law and Justice [Prawo i Sprawiedliwość] Party consolidated its ruling position, while in early autumn Sweden’s rightwing Sverigedemokraterna ‘democrats’, followed by Italy’s right-wing coalition, achieved victories and created the conditions to snatch power from the previously ruling left in those countries. This year’s breakthrough of the right marked, in a certain way in a political sense, the end of the left’s dominance in Europe. The reasons for the rise of the right in Europe are multidimensional in every sense. However, there are predominantly four reasons that, in my opinion, encouraged this breakthrough significantly and made it possible.
First and foremost, the pandemic – with its economic and socio-psychological effects and consequences – raised the role of state and parastate mechanisms significantly, and – alongside the important absence of solidarity – created a favourable environment for ideologically right-wing political trends on Europe’s political scene. This applies in particular to sovereignty movements, which are opposed to neoliberal left tendencies in the European political milieu. That process has not yet ended, while the shadow of the pandemic, with its consequences and possible effects, continues to hover over everything.
Furthermore, the socioeconomic consequences of the 2008-2009 Eurozone crisis have not yet been fully alleviated. Greece has only just emerged from the fiscal control regime. This situation, combined with the effects of the pandemic, continues to have effects in that area, impacting on the strengthening of sovereignty tendencies.
Subsequently, there is the migrant crisis, the consequences of which – dating back to 2015 – have still not been overcome in the political and socioeconomic sense, and a consistent policy at the EU level has not been fully defined, let alone implemented. On the contrary – there are threats of a new wave, the political climate is sharpening, and radical tendencies, among them rightwing ones – including negative tendencies like xenophobia – are objectively growing. They include national tendencies in the positive understanding, but also nationalist ones in the negative understanding of the state of growth, which favours the right. If this new wave comes to life, which is more realistic than uncertain, it will strengthen right-wing tendencies and political movements at the level of the EU and Europe as a whole. It will further deepen the problem of immigration policy and the functioning of the EU, as well as social animosity across the continent. In this context, movements based on the model of the Swedish and Italian experience are assured.
The war in Ukraine produced another crisis: the crisis of the role and identity of the EU in the european and global context. Specifically, full deference to the U.S. and the absence of the credible positioning of brussels/ EU on a topic of Pan-European interest, and with consequences that Europe is already feeling directly in terms of the general economy, energy, standards, social situation etc., has a significant impact on the political environment along the route between the centre/Brussels and member countries
To conclude, with the tectonic changes on the European geopolitical scene following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on 24th February, extremely realistic conditions for this trend of the rise of the right to continue were created, for the simple reason that the national theme and interest in the sharpened international situation, such as the current war in Ukraine, undoubtedly favour them coming to fruition as a matter of priority. Among other things, if there is a direct cause-and-effect relationship between the war in Ukraine, i.e., on the territory of Europe itself, and the strengthening of the right, then this is confirmed unequivocally by the victories of the right in Sweden and Italy. Quite simply, a crisis of this type in the neighbourhood, as a rule, mobilises national corps and favours right-wing sovereignty options. The war in Ukraine produced, among other things, another crisis: the crisis of the role and identity of the EU in the European and global context. Specifically, full deference to the U.S. and the absence of the credible positioning of Brussels/EU on a topic of pan-European interest, and with consequences that Europe is already feeling directly in terms of the general economy, energy, standards, social situation etc., has a significant impact on the political environment along the route between the centre/Brussels and member countries. There is an obvious increase in resistance to the centre/Brussels, due to the policy regarding the war and its consequences, which objectively strengthens the sovereignty tendencies at the foundations of the EU. The shadow of Ukraine, with all the already-evident ramifications on the situation and effects in Europe, certainly provides new motivation for the right, which in the period ahead will be tangibly expressed in various spheres, from geopolitics to culture, education and those domains that touch the very social roots and national interests of individual players on European soil.
The Western Balkans are already suffering all the consequences of current events, due primarily to the region’s dominant interdependence with the EU, in a political, socioeconomic, security and every other sense. In that context, the rise of the right seems inevitable to me. To what extent and with what connotations will also depend to a large extent on the effects of the aforementioned interdependence, but also on the pace and scope of development and the consequences of the current crises. It is already indisputable that national and sovereignty tendencies are growing visibly, and it should be noted in conclusion, to provide an objective picture, that the left in our region isn’t immune to this either.