Essay: The rise of populism in European politics

This project will be about the rise of populism in European politics. Extreme right and left wing parties have been gaining ground in Europe. An example that everyone knows is de PVV with Geert Wilders as leader. But there are lots and lots of these parties spread around Europe. All the extreme left and right wing parties are really different, the only thing that they have in common is the dislike of the nowadays establishment.
What is populism?
Populism is one of the different kinds of political doctrine. ‘Doctrine is : A principle or body of principles presented for acceptance or belief,as by a religious, political, scientific, or philosophic group.’ (Doctrine. (n.d.). Retrieved May 26, 2015, from http://www.thefreedictionary.com/doctrine) The term political doctrine is sometimes wrongly identified with political ideology. However, doctrine lacks the ‘actional aspect’ of ideology. Political doctrine is mainly a theoretical discourse. Political doctrine is based on a rational elaborated set of values, which may precede the formation of a political identity.
So populism is a sub-specie of political doctrine. Populism appeals to the interests and conceptions of the general people, especially contrasting those interest with the interests of the elite. Populism was for the biggest part of the twentieth century considered as a political phenomenon mostly in Latin America. Since 1980 populist parties and movements took some success in the Western/First World democracies. For example; Canada, Scandinavia, Italy and the Netherlands.
There are 2 styles of populism; agrarian and political. And within these 2 styles there are different sub-species.
Agrarian:
‘ Commodity farmer movements with radical economic agendas such as the US People’s Party of the late 19th century.
‘ Subsistence peasant movements, such as the Eastern European Green Rising militias, which followed World War I.
‘ Intellectuals who romanticize hard-working farmers and peasants and build radical agrarian movements like the Russian narodniki.
Political:
‘ Populist democracy, including calls for more political participation through reforms such as the use of popular referenda.
‘ Politicians’ populism marked by non-ideological appeals for “the people” to build a unified coalition.
‘ Reactionary populism, such as the white backlash harvested by George Wallace.
‘ Populist dictatorship, such as that established by Get??lio Vargas in Brazil.

Classical Populism
The word populism is derived from the Latin word populus, which means people. Therefore, populism espouses government by the people as a whole (that is to say, the masses). This is in contrast to aristocracy, synarchy or plutocracy, each of which is an ideology that espouse government by a small, privileged group above the masses.
Populism has been a common political phenomenon throughout history. The Populares were an unofficial faction in the Roman senate whose supporters were known for their populist agenda. They tried to rule by mobilizing masses of Romans. Some of the best known of these were Tiberius Gracchus, Gaius Marius, Julius Caesar and Caesar Augustus, all of whom eventually used referenda to bypass the Roman Senate and appeal to the people directly.

Early modern period
Populism rose during the Reformation; Protestant groups like the Anabaptists formed ideas about ideal theocratic societies, in which peasants would be able to read the Bible themselves. Attempts to establish these societies were made during the German Peasants’ War (1524’1525) and the M??nster Rebellion (1534’1535). The peasant movement ultimately failed as cities and nobles made their own peace with the princely armies, which restored the old order under the nominal overlordship of the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, represented in German affairs by his younger brother Ferdinand.
The same conditions contributed to the outbreak of the English Revolution of 1642’1651, also known as the English Civil War. Conditions led to a proliferation of ideologies and political movements among peasants, self-employed artisans, and working-class people in England. Many of these groups had a Protestant religious bent. They included Puritans and the Levellers.

Populism in the Netherlands
In the Netherlands, right-wing populism won a minor representation in the 150-seat House of Representatives in 1982, when the Centre Party won a single seat. During the 1990s, a splinter party, the Centre Democrats, was slightly more successful, although its significance was still marginal. Not before 2002 did a party considered right-wing populist breakthrough in the Netherlands, when the Pim Fortuyn List won 26 seats and subsequently formed a coalition with the VVD and CDA. Fortuyn, who had strong views against immigration, particularly from Muslims, was assassinated in May 2002, two weeks before the election. The coalition broke up already in 2003, and the party went into steep decline until it was dissolved.
Since 2006, the Party for Freedom (PVV) has been represented in the House of Representatives. Following the 2010 general election, it has been in a pact with the right-wing minority government of VVD and CDA after it won 24 seats in the House of Representatives. The party is Eurosceptic and plays a leading role in the changing stance of the Dutch government towards European integration, as they came second in the 2009 European Parliament election, winning 4 out of 25 seats. The party’s main programme revolves around strong criticism of Islam, but broadened to all other fields as the party grew to its semi-governmental state. The PVV withdrew its support for the Rutte Cabinet in 2012 after refusing to support austerity measures. This triggered the 2012 general election in which the PVV was reduced to 15 seats and excluded from the new government.

Populism in Italy
In Italy right-wing populism is represented mainly by Lega Nord (LN), whose leaders reject the right-wing label, though not the “populist” one. Lega Nord is a federalist and regionalist party, founded in 1991 as a federation of several regional parties of Northern and Central Italy, most of which had arisen and expanded during the 1980s. LN’s program advocates the transformation of Italy into a federal state, fiscal federalism and greater regional autonomy, especially for the Northern regions. At times, the party has advocated the secession of the North, which it calls Padania. LN, which opposes illegal immigration, is critical of Islam, wants Turkey out of the European Union and proposes Italy’s exit from the Eurozone, is considered a Eurosceptic movement and, as such, it joined the Europe of Freedom and Democracy (EFD) group in the European Parliament after the 2009 European Parliament election. LN was part of the national government in 1994, 2001’2006 and 2008’2011, always under Silvio Berlusconi. Most recently, the party, which notably includes among its members the Presidents of Lombardy and Veneto, won 4.1% of the vote in the 2013 general election. In the 2014 European election, Lega Nord, under the leadership of Matteo Salvini, took 6.2% of votes.
A number of national-conservative, nationalist and, arguably, right-wing populist parties are strong especially in Lazio, the region around Rome, and Southern Italy. Most of them are heirs of the Italian Social Movement (a post-fascist party, whose best result was 8.7% of the vote in the 1972 general election) and its successor National Alliance (which reached 15.7% of the vote in 1996 general election). They include the Brothers of Italy (2.0% in 2013), The Right (0.6%), New Force (0.3%), CasaPound (0.1%), Tricolour Flame(0.1%) and several others.
Additionally, in the German-speaking South Tyrol the local second-largest party, Die Freiheitlichen, is often described as a right-wing populist party.
The Five Star Movement (M5S), the largest anti-establishment party in Italy and, arguably, Europe is populist, but does not adhere to a right-wing ideology. This said, many members and voters of the M5S in Northern regions, especially Veneto, are former members or voters of Lega Nord.

Populism in Greece
The most prestigious right-wing populist party in Greece is the Independent Greeks (ANEL). Despite being smaller than the more extreme Golden Dawn party, after the 2015 legislative elections ANEL formed a governing coalition with the left wing Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA), thus making the party a governing party and giving it a place in the Cabinet of Alexis Tsipras.
The Golden Dawn has grown significantly in Greece during the country’s economic downturn, gaining 7% of the vote and 18 out of 300 seats in the Hellenic Parliament. The party’s ideology includes annexation of territory in Albania and Turkey, including the Turkish cities of Istanbul and Izmir. Controversial measures by the party included a poor people’s kitchen in Athens which only supplied for Greek citizens and was shut down by the police.
The Popular Orthodox Rally is not represented in the Greek legislature. It supports anti-globalisation and lower taxes for small businesses, as well as opposition to Turkish accession to the European Union and the Republic of Macedonia’s use of the name Macedonia, as well as immigration only for Europeans. Its participation in government has been one of the reasons why it became unpopular with its voters who turned to Golden Dawn in Greece’s 2012 elections.

Populism in Germany
So far, all attempts by right-wing populist parties to enter the Bundestag, the national parliament of Germany have failed. Instead, populist positions are successfully represented by the left-wing The Left party. All right-wing populist parties have to face the problem of differentiation regarding far-right politics discredited by Nazism.
Nevertheless, on a regional level, right-wing populist movements like Pro NRW and Citizens in Rage (B??rger in Wut, BIW) sporadically attract some support. In 1989 the Republicans (Die Republikaner) led by Franz Sch??nhuber entered the Abgeordnetenhaus of Berlin and achieved more than 7% of the German votes cast in the 1989 European election, with six seats in the European Parliament. The party also won seats in the Landtag of Baden-W??rttemberg twice in 1992 and 1996; after 2000 however, the Republicans’ support eroded in favour of the far-right German People’s Union and the National Democratic Party of Germany (NPD), which in the 2009 federal election held 1.5% of the popular vote (winning up to 9% in regional Landtag parliamentary elections).
In 2005, a nation-wide Pro Germany Citizens’ Movement (pro Deutschland) was founded in Cologne. The pro movement appears as a conglomerate of numerous small parties, voters’ associations and societies, distinguishing themselves by campaigns against Islamic extremism and Muslim immigrants. Its representatives claim a zero tolerance policy and the combat of corruption. With the denial of a multiethnic society (??berfremdung) and the evocation of an alleged islamization, the pro politics extend to far-right positions. Other minor right-wing populist parties include the German Freedom Party founded in 2010, the former East German German Social Union (DSU), the dissolved Party for a Rule of Law Offensive (“Schill party”).

Populism in Belgium
Vlaams Blok, established in 1978, operated on a platform of law and order, anti-immigration (with particular focus on Islamic immigration), and secession of the Flanders region of the country. The secession was originally planned to end in the annexation of Flanders by the culturally and linguistically similar Netherlands until the plan was abandoned due to the multiculturalism in that country. In the elections to the Flemish Parliament in June 2004, the party received 24.15% of the vote, within less than 2% of being the largest party. However, in November of the same year, the party was ruled illegal under anti-racism law for, among other things, advocating schools segregated between citizens and immigrants.
In less than a week, the party was re-established under the name Vlaams Belang, with a near-identical ideology. It advocates for immigrants wishing to stay to adopt the Flemish culture and language. Despite some accusations of anti-Semitism from Belgium’s Jewish population, the party has demonstrated a staunch pro-Israel stance as part of its opposition to Islam. With 18 of 124 seats, Vlaams Belang lead the opposition in the Flemish Parliament, and also have 11 of the 150 seats in the Belgian House of Representatives.

In the picture you can see in blue European national parliaments with representatives from right-wing populist parties in 2013. In dark blue, parties who are in the government

Left-wing populism is a political ideology which combines left-wing politics and populist rhetoric and themes. The rhetoric often consists of anti-elitist sentiments, opposition to the system and speaking for the “common people”. Usually the important themes for left-wing populists include anti-capitalism, social justice, pacifism and anti-globalization, whereas class society ideology or socialist theory is not as important as it is to traditional left-wing parties. The criticism of capitalism and globalization is linked to anti-Americanism which has increased in the left populist movements as a result of unpopular US military operations, especially those in the Middle East.
In Europe there are not many extreme left wing parties. It was for me easier to find examples of right wing parties. Also I’m more interested is right-wing parties because I believe more in their views.

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