Racism climbs to alarming levels in Europe

Published 06.08.2018 20:41
Updated 07.08.2018 02:15

The extent of racism in Europe has reached alarming levels. Racist and xenophobic parties are increasingly coming into prominence in every election they run in.

Formerly, such parties' presence in the government was taboo in European countries. Yet, this has been recently normalized. The politicians who use rhetoric that would not get respect in the past are ministers now. The Eurosceptic political parties in Europe have been rising in power in national parliaments; whereas, they will probably strengthen at the European Parliament as of May 2019. They have become coalition partners and run important offices like domestic and foreign ministries in various EU countries. So far, we have not seen any far-right party leader's becoming prime minister - but this situation should not console us as it can also happen at any moment.

Here is a fact revealed by the polls conducted on the Bavarian state election, which will be held on Oct. 14, 2019 and affect the future of both German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the federal government of Germany. The Christian Social Union in Bavaria (CSU), the ruling party in the Bavarian state, may receive only 40 percent of the vote share for the upcoming election; whereas, the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) is expected to only receive 11 percent. On the other hand, the vote share of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD), which is known for its xenophobic discourses, is estimated to be around 14 percent. No matter how much the CSU engages in anti-refugee policies to compete with the AfD, the electorate chooses the genuine advocates of xenophobia.

Also, in the polls conducted for the Hesse state election, the AfD's vote share seems between 11 and 14 percent. Remembering that they only received 4.5 percent in the latest election, the alarming level of the party's rise becomes evident. Also, considering that Hesse is among the states giving the least support to xenophobic movements, the picture becomes even grimmer.

After far-right parties became coalition partners in Italy and Austria, eyes have turned to the Swedish parliamentary election to be held on Sept. 9, 2018. In the lead up to the election, a xenophobic party named Alternative for Sweden (AfS), which is a copycat of the German AfD, was founded. AfS seems confident about the results and expects considerable success, which is normal because 33.5 percent of the electorate in Sweden stated that they favor a government with anti-refugee policies according to the polls. The increasing Islamophobia in Sweden has become the perfect propaganda tool for the AfS. So, as the last national election of the year in Europe, the Swedish election will be a significant indicator showing the extent of the support given to the racist and xenophobic parties.

In 2019, there will be elections in Belgium, Estonia, Finland, Denmark, Greece, Portugal and Poland. Belgium, Denmark and Greece stand out as the countries in which far-right and racist parties are likely to succeed. I believe that we must be ready for the possibility that more EU countries will have racist parties with ruling power after the elections in 2019. It seems inevitable that the number of Eurosceptic governments will increase in the EU.

In addition to these, European Parliament elections will be held in May and June 2019, which also raises concerns. According to the polls, the group formed by the Christian democrat parties will be the leading group in Parliament, while the group of social democrat parties will be the second largest group. But polls remain insufficient when it comes to the far-right and racist parties. I would like to underline that those who do not take the rise of the far-right seriously are mistaken. Voter turnout for European Parliament elections is generally low, therefore small-scale parties can gain notable success in these elections. The current picture unfortunately indicates that we are going to see more xenophobic and racist European parliamentarians of July 2019.

As much as we are alarmed about the future of Europe and democracy in the face of these developments, we face even graver news each day. In Leipzig, Germany an explosion took place at a döner kebab stall, leaving two people injured. The police negligently announced that the possibility of an attack was very low. Remember, in the aftermath of the National Socialist Underground (NSU) murders, the police looked for the suspects among the family members of the victims, and eventually the NSU members were revealed to have committed the murders.

Here is another grim incident: On June 20, 2018, a 9-year-old Syrian child was killed in a car accident in Schönberg, Mecklenburg in Germany. After the accident, a group of racists drew a swastika on the spot where the child died and celebrated this tragic death. Such incidents should certainly disturb everyone.

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