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Why Is Europe Moving Rightward?

The surge of support for right-wing parties across Europe cannot be explained as the result of above-average immigration figures or dire economic conditions. Instead, European voters seem to be reacting to geopolitical turmoil and the sense that the prevailing political order is on its way out.

ROME – In the run-up to the European Parliament elections this June, the nativist right seems poised to gain ground across the continent, especially in key countries. Though the chauvinist wave extends from Portugal to Scandinavia, it is being driven mainly by right-wing parties in five core EU members that rejected nationalism more than 70 years ago.

In Italy, a politician with a neo-fascist background, Giorgia Meloni, has been prime minister since 2022 and remains popular. In the Netherlands, the radical xenophobe Geert Wilders’s party came in first in the election last November and also remains popular (though it has failed to win enough support from other parties to form a government).

In France, Marine Le Pen’s National Rally is the front-runner, with nearly 30% approval. In Belgium, the far-right Flemish party Vlaams Belang is ahead and surging in the polls. And in Germany, Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) has emerged as the second-strongest party. Among the European Union’s original members, only tiny Luxembourg still boasts a strong centrist politics.