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The Extreme Right In Britain Essay

2710 words - 11 pages

The Extreme Right in Britain

Introduction

Perhaps, one of the highly debated issues in the electoral procedures of different European nations is about the extreme right. Based on the premise that the nation is the primary unit of social and political organization, extremist nationalism has been revived since the demise of communism. Unlike civic nationalism, which stresses equality and solidarity, the exaggerated, chauvinistic, and aggressive nationalism of the extreme right upholds the significance of the nation and national identity against any other value. Each person is defined by membership in ancient ethnic and cultural groups that are hierarchically arranged according to the "natural order." In the extreme rights’ view, violating this natural order through racial combination leads to corruption in society.

Consequently, the extreme right portrays itself as the defender of the nation, protecting society's integrity and purity from the onslaught of foreigners and unwanted change. Therefore, national identity subordinates all other identifications; it divides good from evil and friend from enemy. It is a source of pride that right-wing extremists feel has been denied them by the state and liberals.

The resurgence of extreme right parties gained its first sudden and dramatic momentum when the Front National (FN), led by Jean-Marie LePen, scored 11.2 percent in the 1984 European elections. This took many by surprise, including political and social scientists, most of whom at the time had expected rightist extremism to disperse altogether. Indeed, until the mid-1980s, the organized extreme right remained completely marginalized in Europe, enjoyed little political support, and performed poorly in elections.

Even more surprisingly, however, LePen's breakthrough reflected not just a single incident but rather a more general turning point: a lasting upsurge of the extreme right all over Europe that reached its first peak with some dramatic electoral gains in the early 1990s, accompanied by a wave of anti-immigrant violence. Since then, several political parties have failed to generate much support, like the Dutch Centrumdemocraten (CD). But overall, the newly emerging variants of the extreme right did not suffer the much anticipated "periodical decline” (Epstein 21). They endured and even doubled their electoral turnout over the last two decades. Therefore it has become difficult to dismiss them as temporary and secluded (Hainsworth 10).

Several developments highlight and substantiate the thesis that the extreme right has re-established itself as a significant political actor in several Estern European democracies including Great Britain (Rensmann 93). Extreme and radical populist right parties are far from being a short-lived, transitory, and temporary protest phenomenon that is temporarily endorsed by alienated voters lacking identifiable beliefs; they have largely consolidated their positions in the electoral...

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