Scope for a Shift in the European Political Landscape?

Chris Guiton

The collapse of the Dutch Government as far-right politician Geert Wilders withdrew his support and the strength of the vote for extreme right-wing Marine Le Pen’s National Front in the French presidential election are indicative of some interesting developments in the European political landscape. Both parties have been making anti-capitalist and anti-EU noises in an attempt to secure disaffected working class votes.
There’s now an opening in the forthcoming Dutch elections for the eurosceptic and anti-cuts Socialist party to increase its vote; while Francois Hollande is in with a chance of winning the second presidential voting round in France. Of course, it’s well understood on the left that, for all his rhetoric, Hollande is no radical and his conversion to a more progressive politics has been driven by pressure from Jean-Luc Melenchon’s Left Front.
But these developments beg some interesting questions. Not least, is Germany going to find itself increasingly isolated in its blind support for the new EU fiscal pact, which will inevitably force Europe into an economic death spiral if allowed to continue unchecked; and how are parties of the left across Europe going to face up to the challenge presented by the far-right as it seeks to exploit the economic crisis for its own ends?
At a local level, this underlines the need to continue to tackle ignorance about the causes of the current economic crisis; challenge politics based on hate, racism and fear; and promote the socialist alternative to the Con-Dems.

One thought on “Scope for a Shift in the European Political Landscape?

  1. Yes – we have the potential for change – but not necessarily a way that we can predict. The rise of the Right in Europe can also shift the balance which risks conflict in the future, I fear.

    Should we have the fortune that politics shifts towards a progressive socialist or left-centre approach; it will always run the risk of being diluted because of the power of corporate, globalised business and the impotency of elected governments.

    The local, London dimension is interesting as we see today Grant Sharps overseeing a policy of capping housing benefits that is leading to social cleansing. His nieve belief in markets to balance housing demand and control escalating budgets is simply wrong and he is consistent of all Tory ministers in pulling the rug from underneath those who are most vulnerable.

    On this issue, the public Mayor debate on Housing in London had degenerated into the trading of numbers on affordable homes.

    What should be shouted is that we need new Council or state owned housing and public ownership of all rented property with rents set according to need and ability to pay.

    The Left in the UK needs to challenge dependence on piece-meal benefit support, expose the myth of “affordable housing” and repocess the areas of our City excluded from working people because of the wage barriers they experience.

    So: if we are to see a shift in the political landscape; we need to start with the basics and address housing as well as health, employment, education and inequalities.

    Only by addressing these can we hope for the sea change we seek.

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