In a startling political shift, right-wing movements are taking hold across Europe, transforming the continent’s political landscape. From Sweden to Italy, Finland to Greece, the rise of right-wing parties is shaking the foundations of the European Union.
But the wave of change does not stop there, as Spain gears up for national elections in just one week, followed by the Netherlands and even Germany could soon join the ranks of the right.
The seismic shift has left experts and politicians scrambling to make sense of the dramatic rise of these populist-style governments and factions.
The consequences of this political sea change are far-reaching, and some fear that the EU, once seen as the bastion of liberal democracy, may be on the verge of becoming too liberal for its own citizens.
The ordinary people living within the EU’s borders are making it clear: they want their politicians to prioritise their own needs, especially as inflation soars and the cost of energy and food skyrocket, according to analysis by the Daily Mail.
But the rising tide of right-wing sentiment is not solely driven by economic concerns. Many Europeans are pointing their fingers at high immigration rates as the root cause of rising crime, a crippling housing shortage, horrifying terror attacks, and what they perceive as a dangerous erosion of European culture.
Take Sweden, for instance, a nation known for its liberal values. The influx of migrants since 2015 has sparked a crime wave that has left Swedes reeling. In the once peaceful streets of Stockholm, shootings have become alarmingly common, with a shocking seven incidents occurring in just one 24-hour period last month.
Lives have been lost, including that of a 15-year-old boy, prompting the government to consider declaring a national firearms emergency. Disturbingly, a recent analysis by Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter revealed that a staggering 85 per cent of those arrested, prosecuted, and sentenced for firearms offences over the past five years were either born abroad or had parents from overseas.
Meanwhile, in Germany, the impact of mass immigration is causing serious social upheaval. With a housing crisis looming and more than 700,000 homes expected to be in short supply by 2025, Germans are pointing the finger at immigration as the source of their woes.
Even more troubling, right-wing politicians claim that recent arrivals without citizenship were responsible for half of the gang-rape convictions in Germany last year.
Earlier this month, in a landmark moment for German politics, a member of the far-right party Alternative for Germany (AfD) has achieved a historic victory as the first-ever AfD-affiliated mayor in the country.
Hannes Loth, an agriculturalist and active municipal council member, emerged victorious in Raguhn-Jessnitz, Saxony-Anhalt, securing a significant 51.1 per cent of the votes in a closely contested runoff, according to the municipality’s official announcement.
Reflecting on this unprecedented development, Dr Helena Ivanov, a political analyst, told Express.co.uk: “Clearly many voters across Europe, Germany included are not happy with their current governments, and some of those voters see the far-right as an appropriate alternative to status quo.
“The rise of AfD is of course problematic, not only because of their political views, but also because it seems that the centre and left-wing political parties aren’t really engaging with the voters or offering solutions to the problems they identify.”
Dr Ivanov further pointed out that the left and centre parties must take this situation seriously and develop substantial strategies to address voters’ grievances.
Failure to do so could risk Germany following in the footsteps of other European countries, where the far-right has gained significant influence or even joined the ruling coalition, as observed in Italy and Sweden.
The Research Fellow at the Henry Jackson Society added: “Going forward, I’d argue that the left and centre parties need to take the situation seriously and come up with substantial ways to address the voters’ grievances.
“Otherwise, they risk that Germany becomes yet another party in which the far right wins and/or becomes part of the ruling coalition, like in Italy or Sweden.”