London, Thanasis Gavos

32% of voters in national elections of the last year across Europe he cast his vote in favor of “anti-establishment” partiesi.e. populist parties and parties from both ends of the political spectrum. Half of them voted for far-right parties.

This comes from the pooled analysis of election results by more than 100 political scientists under the Dutchman Matthijs Rudwein of the University of Amsterdam. The conclusions of the analysis are published by the Guardian.

At the beginning of the century the corresponding percentage was 20% and in the early 1990s it was 12%.

The Dutch professor tells the British newspaper that “There are fluctuations, but the underlying trend is that the numbers are constantly increasing.”

He comments that traditional parties are losing votes which are being gained by those with a counter-establishment message. “This is something that matters because many studies now show that when populists take power or when they influence power, the quality of liberal democracy deteriorates”Professor Rudwayne added.

234 alternative parties in Europe

The study states that now there are 234 alternative parties in Europe. 61 are classified as far-left parties and 112 as far-right. Some of them fall under the category of populist parties, which numbers 165 political formations.

Populist parties are described as parties with usually far-right or far-left ideology which divide society into “pure citizens” and “corrupt elites and vested interests” with the central offensive message being that everything in politics should be an expression of the “will of the people”.

Critics say they often subvert liberal democratic normsundermine the judiciary and the media, and curtail minority rights, often in ways that outlast the exercise of power.

Examples of anti-liberal far-right parties governing or co-governing in Europe include Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s partythe Polish Law and Justice Party, Giorgia Meloni’s Italian Brothers, the Sweden Democrats and the Finns Party.

It is also referred to rise in support for respective parties in Austria, Germany and Francewhile it is noted that in the June elections in Greece “three regionalist parties of the hard right won parliamentary seats”.

Populist parties are expected to determine the formation of the government in Slovakia, Poland and the Netherlands in elections in the autumn.

The political scientist at the University of York Dafni Halikiopoulou, who participates in the study, comments that especially the far-right parties have expanded their electoral base by associating voters with various and different concerns, beyond the traditional “insecurity” about immigration.

Most the voters of these parties also come from previously unreachable population groups, such as older women, urban dwellers and the educated middle class.

They are looking for answers to new insecuritiessuch as lockdowns, vaccinations, economic instability, but also the debates about gender, history, symbols of national identity and other issues related to the “culture war” that is now running through the European public sphere.

Analysts point out that almost in all European countries the pressure on the traditional center-right to follow far-right policies especially on immigration has led to the “radicalization” of the center-right, which blurs the lines with the far-right.