YF Hold Online Internationalism Event
Across Europe all political parties are dealing with the rise of far-right and Eurosceptic parties. It is also increasingly difficult to get foreign affairs issues on the agenda of mainstream political parties, unless it is in the form of a battle cry against the European Union or any form of immigration.
On Monday 7th, the Young Fabians hosted and Internationalism Ideas Series event to discuss some of these issues. We heard from the experiences of Pierre Kanuty from the French Parti Socialiste, Samuli Sinisalo from the Finnish SDP and Mattia Guidi from the LUISS Guido Carli School of Political Science in Rome. All speakers elaborated on the difficulty of getting foreign affairs issues on the agenda citing the complexity of many of the issues, the perception of their irrelevance to everyday life and particularly the EU’s ability to elicit negative association and emotion.
Despite the differences in the composition of far-right and Eurosceptic parties across Europe, a number of commonality were striking. Constituency of voters, shifting patterns of voting behaviour, disproportionate amounts of media
coverage, a charismatic leader who is less extreme than much of the party and the use of EU election as a protest vote have all been contributory factors to the rise of UKIP-style parties, particularly in France and Finland.
The panellists also spoke about tactics that have been helping to tackle the rise of these parties – focussing on the politicians and the consequences of their voting records rather than attacking the voters; not compromising and playing games to court voters but focussing on your own positive message; and presenting a vision of change but also of stability.
There was a lot of positive feeling about the ability of centre-left parties to win the argument about what type of society we want to build for the future and our common values of human rights, but a recognition that more work needs to be done to analyse the shape of the emerging right. In the end, this will require us to find a way to serve the constituency of people who are drawn away from mainstream parties by understanding and addressing their needs as socialists in the wake of the crisis.