DARK FORCES STILL RIS­ING ON THE RIGHT

Hot Press - - THE WHOLE HOG - JACK BYRNE

If you took a quick glance at the news, you’d be for­given for think­ing that the US is the cen­tral hub of the alt.right. From a Pres­i­dent who gets into petty slag­ging con­tests with re­porters at news con­fer­ences, to on­line “po­lit­i­cal tastemak­ers” ped­dling ab­surd – though highly in­flu­en­tial – lies, the po­lit­i­cal land­scape is as car­toon­ish as it is con­found­ing.

What has given the past 12 months an even more sin­is­ter feel, though, is the con­tin­ued metas­ta­sis­ing of the move­ment across the globe. Take for ex­am­ple the Swedish gen­eral elec­tion that grabbed head­lines in Septem­ber.

The so called 'Swe­den Democrats' had been a white na­tion­al­ist move­ment in their early years, be­fore re-brand­ing them­selves enough to en­ter par­lia­ment for the first time in 2010. Though the party fell short of its own ex­pec­ta­tions (fin­ish­ing third), the sit­u­a­tion was still huge cause for con­cern. An 18% share of the vote demon­strated a steady growth in sup­port. Con­text is im­por­tant, and un­for­tu­nately the far right is en­joy­ing a creep­ing growth across the con­ti­nent.

Such things tend not to hap­pen in one fell swoop; the rise of danger­ous po­lit­i­cal move­ments tends to be grad­ual. In France, Em­manuel Macron’s elec­tion to the pres­i­dency last year was a bea­con of hope to some. His cen­tre-left val­ues could go some way to­wards re­pair­ing a na­tion that, so­cially, was fray­ing at the seams. Fast for­ward to now, and Macron’s ap­proval rat­ings are at a record low, with the slack be­ing largely picked up by far-right poster woman Marine Le Pen (yes, she’s still go­ing).

These ex­am­ples are re­flec­tive of a grow­ing trend across Europe. In Italy, the Lega party con­tin­ues to make gains, while in Ger­many, Al­ter­na­tiv fur Deutsch­land – in a devel­op­ment that made many peo­ple’s blood run cold – be­came the first far-right group to en­ter par­lia­ment since World War II. There have been sim­i­lar stories in Turkey and Poland.

Fur­ther afield, Brazil re­cently elected the ex­e­crable Jair Bol­sonaro as pres­i­dent; he once de­scribed him­self as “ho­mo­pho­bic – and very proud of it” and – when act­ing as a con­gress­man in 2015 – was al­leged to have told a fe­male col­league that she was not “wor­thy” of be­ing raped.

In the con­text, Peter Casey’s rise to promi­nence in the Pres­i­den­tial elec­tion should be con­sid­ered a cau­tion­ary tale. Pos­ing as a ring-wing pop­ulist, he emerged with 23% sup­port. More re­cently, the ar­son at­tack on the ho­tel in Inishowen, which had been ear­marked as a refugee cen­tre con­firms that danger­ous forces are push­ing for edge of the en­ve­lope. Clearly, there is no room what­so­ever for com­pla­cency…

"Brazil re­cently elected the ex­e­crable Jair Bol­sonaro as pres­i­dent; he once de­scribed him­self as 'ho­mo­pho­bic – and very proud of it.'"

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