The last three United States presidential elections have revived the popularity of far-right groups and political factions. With right-wing populism and nationalist ideals on the rise in the U.S., there has been a lack of focus on international politics and the shift to far-right tendencies in Europe.
The 2022 Italian General Election — a snap election after the demise of Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s government — has potentially put into power the most extremist right wing alliance since World War II. Giorgia Meloni, the country’s first female Prime Minister, is the face of the Italian conservative Brothers of Italy party. She has formed a political alliance with other far-right parties in Italy, including the League led by Matteo Salvini and Forza Italia led by previous Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.
The origins of the Brothers of Italy party are rooted in neo-fascim, leaving other Europeans worried about the future of their own countries. This fear is justifiable as other members of the European Union have started to make their own shift toward far-right politics. The Swedish Democrats, a party with roots in neo-Nazism, had election success in Sweden — a notoriously liberal country.
Marine Le Pen, the leader of the far-right party in France, also made extreme advancements into the French Parliament with 89 newly elected lawmakers. This gives her a high possibility of winning the next election and increasing her party's power in the country. Additionally, the Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and newly instated Prime Minister of the non-EU United Kingdom Liz Truss are rising right-wing political powers.
This shift to the extremist right will have disastrous consequences, not only for the EU, but for all international politics. Donald Trump has already shown continuous support for Orbán, especially after the Hungarian Prime Minister's speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in August. Additionally, Berlusconi and Salvini continue to show unwavering support for Putin in the midst of the Russian-Ukrainian war.
Attention to these elections in Europe are crucial. Human rights and progressive social conditions in Western countries will be severely cut under these extremist conservative governments. The simultaneous implementation of anti-liberal social programs by major EU governments could cause a domino effect for governments worldwide.
For example, Giorgia Meloni, the new Italian Prime minister, is against current immigration policies, LGBTQ+ lobbies, climate fundamentalism and globalism. Marine Le Pen shares Meloni’s anti-immigration sentiment along with Truss implementing attacks on labor unions and approving increased offshore oil drilling.
The United States is not immune to the international influence of policies like these. The current GOP already stands on a majority of these policies, including anti-immigration and anti-globalism. The popularity of these policies throughout the EU and the majority of countries America has friendly relations with can incentivize the extreme right of the U.S. Republican party to seek support — monetary or otherwise — to regain their power in the government’s executive branch.
Historically, as overseas governments move further toward the right, the United States follows. With the Cold War came a surge of libertarianism and free-market ideologies that provided a platform for future conservatives like Presidents Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan. The dictatorships of the Soviet Union and China, labeled as “communist governments,” increased the right-wing sentiments of fearful Americans.
This pattern is particularly worrying considering the invitation of Hungarian Orbán is a direct invitation for Europe’s far-right leaders to provide an influence on American national politics.
United States politics won’t necessarily follow the current European trends of rising right-wing politicians, but the right-wing politicians of the United States might use this as an advantage to increase international friendly relations. Steve Bannon, the Trump administration’s former chief strategist, has been promoting a global populist revolution in Europe for years. He also previously served as an “adviser-counselor” to aforementioned right-wing French politician Marine Le Pen.
Citizens of the United States and of other countries worldwide should be aware of the international rise of far-right nationalism and its potential influence on their governments — not only as a preventative measure for themselves, but to advocate for change in the countries that are already experiencing this political extremism.
American foreign policy, especially with the threat of overseas ultra-conservative governments, is a key factor in voting decisions. With the United States midterm elections around the corner, awareness toward the uprising of extremist right-wing politicians and policies in European governments is more crucial than ever.
Sofia Piolanti is a freshman studying Political Science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Do you agree that the rise of far-right extremism needs to be broadcasted all over the world to raise awareness? Send all comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.