Nastiness Diagnosis. Anthropology. Religion. Gender. Justice. A Personal Notepad For the General Public.
It is becoming increasingly clear that the debate on Islam and Muslim immigrants has moved into the center of European political discourse. The increasing volume of publications about the role of Islam in social, cultural and political spheres indicates that Islam is now a major political issue, often associated with the debate on terrorism and security. This article argues that the shift in focus should be understood as the result of a hegemonic shift that goes back to the mid-1980s when the populist far-right intervened in the immigration debate in Europe. The far-right not only presented immigration as a cultural threat to the future of European nations but also succeeded in moving immigration to the center of political discourse. This was done through successive right-wing political interventions that helped establish Muslim immigrants as an incompatible ontological category predicated on culture, and kept the national focus on immigration as an imminent threat to ‘our common’ achievements.
earlier this year…
Polls show that the FN electorate remains staunchly opposed to immigration. But the younger Le Pen has shrewdly recast the issue as a defense of the “republican” value of laïcité (secularism) rather than open hostility to immigrants.
Tactics such as these have “de-demonized” the party, as the French media like to say, and thus removed much of the stigma of voting for it. FN voters tend to be younger and less educated than the population at large. Many come from the working class, 40 percent of which now votes for the party.
Smaller parties may run in the first round of the presidential vote, but in the second round voters generally choose between a center-right party and a center-left one.
But now that the FN is drawing more votes than either the Socialist Party (PS) or the UMP by themselves (that is, not counting votes won by their coalition partners), the next presidential contest could be a three-way affair in which only one of the two hitherto dominant parties will make it to the second round (as happened once before, in 2002).
Even then, it is unlikely Marine Le Pen will be elected president in 2017: There are still too many voters who say they will not vote for her for president no matter who her opponent may be. But as the party’s presence expands and voters become more familiar with FN candidates at the local level, the taboo may weaken enough to make a Marine Le Pen presidency possible.
Meanwhile, the surprise winner is Sarkozy. In 2012, his position was similar to Hollande’s in that his performance in office had discredited him with much of his own base. His attempt to woo defectors back from the extreme right only lent legitimacy to the FN’s new strategy under Marine Le Pen. Nevertheless, he lost to Hollande by less than 3 points. After leaving office, he was dogged by various charges of malfeasance (several investigations are still pending). Despite this, he reclaimed the party leadership in 2014. Although he will face several rivals for the UMP presidential nomination in 2017, his support among the party faithful is strong, and he is credited with having restored peace among the party’s warring factions.
Europe is a controversial continent. Although Europe stands for high values and fundamental rights, it simultaneously demonstrates a rise in Islamophobia—the fear of Islam and Muslims, and Xenophobia—the fear of immigrants, foreigners and strangers. On March 18, 2007, the European Union celebrated its 50th anniversary. Whereas it could be expected that the European Union should by now—at the age of 50—be mature enough to outgrow racism, the opposite seems to be the reality. The radical right has risen in an unprecedented way and what is even worse—the centre-right has adopted far rightist approach and by that has become more radical and radicalized. This article tries to explore these two interconnected topics: the discrimination against Muslims living in the EU member states and the dangerously rising phenomenon of the radical right, manifested in their national election results and in the radicalization of the agenda of the centre-right political parties. The author fears that these two trends endanger numerous ideals and ideas Europe stands for, and hopes that the EU can stop racism once and for all.