Europe's political landscape is shifting as Far Right parties gain momentum Video Credit: Gulf News

The world watched the Spanish parliamentary elections with bated breath last week, with many analysts expecting the country’s far right to take centerstage, lead by the Vox party. Instead, the results have ended in a deadlock and Spain may see fresh elections with no single party able to form a government. The conservative People's Party (PP) emerged as the single largest party, but fell short of a majority, even with the support of the far-right Vox party.

What is more interesting however is that the Vox party’s support actually fell from 2019. Much to everyone’s surprise, the far right party won 33 seats this time, down from 52 seats earlier, while the Socialists did much better than expected. But even then, Vox remains the third biggest party in Spain with some 3 million of Spain's 37 million voters supporting it.

So despite the results of Spain’s elections, the world has to ask: why is Europe witnessing a far right resurgence in several countries, including in those countries that have had a bitter past with fascist rule like Italy? If you look at the map of Europe today, Italy is governed by the right wing Giorgia Meloni.

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From Greece to Sweden and even Germany and the Netherlands, political parties that were once on the fringe are gaining ground. More and more mainstream conservative parties are also willing to do business and cozy up with far right parties in order to cobble up coalitions.

So why has the far right been gaining ground in Europe? Is it because voters are unhappy with the more centrist parties or the political mainstream and therefore these are protest votes?

Or is it because of fears of unchecked immigration, perceived threats to identity and so called traditional values especially coming at a time when the global economy faces headwinds and much uncertainty, with Russian-Ukraine war only complicating matters.

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Climate denialism of the Far Right

Look at France, The country has just been in the midst of the worst urban riots since 2005, where fault lines over immigration have come to the fore and the political fallout of the violence could see a boost for the far right opposition leader, Marine Le Pen. Her 89 MPs already form the biggest opposition party in France’s parliament and the riots have given her a chance to jump on the government.

She has laid the blame on immigrant-origin communities, mostly from former French colonies in Africa, and analysts believe this could help her further politically, even though the violence was sparked off by police brutality with the killing of a 17-year-old boy of Algerian origin in Paris.

While immigration is a common thread that unites Europe’s far-right parties, there are newer issues that are binding them together like climate change, pandemic restrictions and minority rights. As Europe, and indeed other parts of the world like the US, face unprecedented heatwaves this year, the climate denialism of the Far Right has serious consequences. This denialism is not uniform.

Some Far Right parties totally reject global warming studies, while others admit there is a problem but want local solutions while opposing entering into any international agreements. It is a kind of environmental nationalism. Spain’s far right Vox party is an example of this.

This still marks a shift from a time when Vox used to call climate change a “hoax”. A similar shift has been seen in France with Marine Le Pen’s party.

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