Did Ukraine War Help The Right In Europe Turn The Tide Against The Left?

Ujjwal Shrotryia

Jul 02, 2024, 03:38 PM | Updated 12:19 AM IST

The war in Ukraine (Efrem Lukatsky/Flickr)
The war in Ukraine (Efrem Lukatsky/Flickr)

The Ukraine conflict may be a key factor in boosting the Right Wing's momentum against the Left in Europe.

In the recent elections of the European Parliament held between June 6-9, France’s far-right party ‘National Rally’ led by Marine Le Pen, won 31.5 per cent votes, more than double that of French President Emmanuel Macron’s party — Renaissance's 14.6 per cent.

In the snap elections called by Macron in France after loss in the European Parliament elections, Le Pen’s party secured more votes, 33 per cent, compared to 28 per cent for Macron’s party.

Just like France and the European Parliament, other far-right parties like 'Alternative for Germany,’ ‘Brothers of Italy' and Geert Wilders' PVV party in the Netherlands have also gained ground, apart from Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán.

Moreover, Orban with Austria’s far-right Freedom Party (FPO) and the Czech Republic’s ANO party of Andrej Babis are forming a new alliance called 'Patriots of Europe’ in the European Parliament.

All these gains by the right in the European Parliament are at the expense of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats, liberal Renew and Greens.

On the other side of the Atlantic, the Republicans with former President Donald Trump at the helm are once again gaining ground. His positions against American support to Ukraine have found resonance among the masses.

The question, however, remains as to why Europe, the US, and the general Western world are seeing a rise of the right.

Growing resentment against the left's immigration policies is now acknowledged as one of the accelerators of this trend. Many Europeans feel that African and Arab immigrants have not assimilated into European society and culture, leading to increased violence and social tensions, which has fueled this shift to the right.

But Europe's response to the Russia-Ukraine war, which has highlighted a sharp divide between the Left and Right, could also be playing a role.

Since the war began, Ukrainian refugees have en masse moved to different parts of Europe. Just Poland alone has given refuge to one million of the six million refugees.

The support to Ukraine also saw the Western countries cutting off oil and gas supplies from Russia and sourcing it from the Middle East, sending Brent crude oil prices spiralling up. Inflation spiked to a record 10.6 per cent and day-to-day grocery shopping became unaffordable, forcing the Central Banks across Europe to raise interest rates and put even more pressure on growth.

Moreover, the price of raw materials shot up, putting further pressure on Europe's growth prospects.

It's only now in the past three to four months that inflation has come down leading the European Central Bank to cut down rates to 3.75 percent.

The stance taken by right-wing parties to negotiate for peace instead of the continuation of war may have resulted in some of the inflation-affected voters choosing right-wing parties instead of the left or centrist parties.

However, readers should understand that although the right wing has gained ground, it still does not have a majority to command real power.

In the European elections, centrist Ursula von der Leyen's party European People's Party (EPP) is still holding power. Similar is the case in France, where even if Marine Le Pen's National Rally wins the elections, which it is most likely to, it will have to share power with Macron's centre-left party.

Therefore, it remains to be seen whether these right-wing parties will be able to effect major change in the European polity. However, one thing is sure — the Ukraine war is a substantial reason for the rise of the right.

Staff Writer at Swarajya. Writes on Indian Military and Defence.

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