Germany

The Troubling Rise Of The Far Right In Europe

From Greece to France to Austria, political parties espousing anti-immigrant, anti-euro policies are making gains across Europe.

National Front leader Marine Le Pen speaking at a party rally in May 2013
National Front leader Marine Le Pen speaking at a party rally in May 2013
Thomas Schmid

-OpEd-

BERLIN — Europe sees itself as the home of democracy, but do democratic values truly run to its core? If you believe the regular warnings about the danger of extreme right-wing parties, democracy is little more than a thin veneer stretched across the continent. Throughout Europe, the euro skeptics are growing in popularity.

From Italy’s Lega Nord and Beppe Grillo’s Five Star Movement to the Freedom Party of Austria and Greece’s Golden Dawn, right-wing parties are benefiting from fundamental dissatisfaction with traditional politicians. Their newfound popularity suggests the consensus that has reigned over the continent for many years may be starting to unravel.

It would be an exaggeration to speak of far-right parties advancing in droves across the continent. For decades, one-dimensional protest parties have achieved success in certain elections, but their popularity ebbs and flows. Rather than posing a serious political threat, they are seen as a kind of wake-up call. They let the traditional parties know that something is rotten in their own back yard.

When a National Front candidate won a recent election in the Var area in southeastern France, it had less to do with the National Front’s policies and much more to do with problems within the two main political parties. The Socialists were finding life tough in government, and the conservative Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) had descended into disorder after former President Nicolas Sarkozy’s defeat. The National Front’s victory was one of negation. There is nothing expressly positive about it.

A European Parliament full of right-wingers

But it does seem that the far-right third parties are bubbling beneath the surface, and their eruption could have serious consequences for the politics of the European Union and its member states. This threat is suddenly concrete: The National Front could well become the strongest party in France during May’s European elections.

The same is true of activist Beppe Grillo’s Five Star Movement in Italy. Although Prime Minister Enrico Letta’s government is very pro-European, the Italian parliament is dominated by parties who regard the European project with distaste, if not outright hatred.

Something is brewing in Europe, and paradoxically the catalyst for this change could be the EU itself. It is quite possible that the right-wing euro skeptics will gain far more seats in the next European Parliament and form an anti-European Union alliance for the first time.

The supporters of the European Union will have no choice but to explain the institution to their citizens far more effectively and, above all, reform it so that it meets with the approval of the European people.

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Geopolitics

REvil Bust: Is Russian Cybercrime Crackdown Just A Decoy From Ukraine?

This weekend’s unprecedented operation to dismantle the cybercriminal REvil network in Russia was carried out on a request and information from Washington. Occurring just as the two countries face off over the Russian threat to invade Ukraine raises more questions than it answers.

Kyiv blamed Russia for another cyber-attack that knocked out key Ukrainian government websites last week

Cameron Manley

The world’s attention was gripped last week by the rising risk of war at the Russia-Ukraine border, and what some have called the worst breakdown in relations between Moscow and Washington since the end of the Cold War. Yet by the end of the week, another major story was unfolding more quietly across Russia that may shed light on the high-stakes geopolitical maneuvering.

By Friday night, Russian security forces had raided 25 addresses in St. Petersburg, Moscow and several other regions south of the capital in an operation to dismantle the notorious REvil group, accused of some of the worst cyberattacks in recent years to hit targets in the U.S. and elsewhere in the West.

And by Saturday, Russian online media Interfax was reporting that the FSB Russian intelligence services revealed that it had in fact been the U.S. authorities who had informed Russia "about the leaders of the criminal community and their involvement in attacks on the information resources of foreign high-tech companies.”

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