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February 28, 2024

The Rise of Right-Wing Politics Globally: Geopolitical Implications

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By: Deeplaxmi Patil, Research Analyst, GSDN

Flags of various countries: source Internet

Introduction

The rise of right-wing politics globally has become a significant challenge to democratic societies, with various countries experiencing an upsurge in right-wing extremist ideas and groups. This phenomenon is characterised by the dissemination of divisive and hateful ideologies, often facilitated by modern communication tools, such as social media platforms. The evolving nature of these ideologies and their means of distribution underscores the need for coordinated international efforts to address the growing threat.

The post-9/11 era, initially dominated by the global war on terror, witnessed the emergence and spread of right-wing extremism as a parallel threat. While the focus was on groups like Al Qaeda and the Islamic State, right-wing extremism gained traction globally. Social media played a crucial role in connecting like-minded individuals across geographical boundaries, enabling the exchange of ideas, and fostering the growth of right-wing movements. Europe, historically familiar with right-wing ideologies, experienced a surge in the 2010s. Factors such as increased immigration from Muslim countries, movement within the European Union, and the mainstreaming of far-right ideas by populist politicians contributed to the rise.

The mainstreaming of right-wing ideologies within political parties and among politicians became a concerning trend in the 2000s. Leaders like Viktor Orban in Hungary incorporated anti-immigrant and exclusionary narratives into their political agendas. Orban’s actions, including undermining democracy and suppressing dissent, led to public protests.

Jair Bolsonaro’s ascent to the presidency in Brazil in 2018-2019 showcased the continued emergence of right-wing extremism. Bolsonaro’s campaign advocated for a return to Brazil’s perceived glory through attacks on institutions, minorities, and violence against various groups. His endorsement of Trump further illustrates the interconnectedness of global right-wing movements.

The rise of right-wing politics globally has marked a notable shift in geopolitical dynamics. Fuelled by factors such as economic inequality, immigration concerns, and a backlash against globalisation, right-wing movements have gained traction in various regions. This shift often manifests in nationalist ideologies, emphasising protectionist policies and a focus on national identity.

Geopolitically, this trend has implications for international relations. Some right-wing leaders adopt an assertive and isolationist stance, challenging existing alliances and fostering a more transactional approach to diplomacy. Multilateral institutions face scrutiny, with a preference for bilateral agreements. The rise of right-wing governments has also led to increased emphasis on sovereignty, impacting global cooperation on issues like climate change and human rights.

Furthermore, these movements may contribute to a more polarized international system, with nations aligning based on shared ideological values. This polarization can complicate diplomatic efforts and potentially lead to increased geopolitical tensions. The impact of right-wing politics varies across countries, and not all movements share identical ideologies. Nonetheless, the global rise of right-wing politics introduces complex challenges to the established geopolitical order, influencing international cooperation and reshaping alliances

Right Wing Politics in Europe and Americas

The rise of right-wing politics globally represents a complex and multifaceted phenomenon, with distinct regional variations. The provided data highlights that this trend is not universal, as some major democracies, such as Germany and the United States, are currently led by centre-left governments. Nevertheless, the overarching pattern suggests a growing inclination towards right-wing populism, characterized by distrust of liberal democratic institutions.

One prominent aspect of this trend is the erosion of confidence in key pillars of liberal democracy, including fair elections, an unbiased media, religious tolerance, and political pluralism. Populist leaders often challenge these foundations, contributing to a sense of uncertainty and instability. The comparison to the early 1930s, a period marked by the rise of authoritarianism, emphasizes the potential threat to democratic norms and values.

In Europe, the data points to a surge in right-wing populist movements. Italy’s Prime Minister, Georgia Melon, associated with movements seeking to resurrect Italian fascism, underscores the shift towards more conservative ideologies. In Hungary and Poland, where democratic traditions may be less deeply rooted due to Soviet domination, hard-right influences have been present for some time. The rise of Marine Le Pen in France and the substantial presence of the Alternative for Germany (AfD) in the German parliament further illustrate the increasing influence of right-wing politics across the continent.

Scandinavia, traditionally a model of political moderation, is not immune to this global trend. The rise of right-wing populists in Sweden and Finland suggests a departure from the region’s historical political landscape.

The diversity within right-wing movements is highlighted, with some primarily driven by nationalism, others by racist or reactionary ideologies, and yet others being Eurosceptics seeking to emulate the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union. This heterogeneity makes it challenging to define a cohesive political group but emphasizes a common thread of scepticism towards liberal democratic principles.

The recent victory of Milei’s government in Argentina underlines that the appeal of populism extends beyond Europe, persisting in Latin America. This region, with a history of maverick political leaders, continues to be susceptible to populist influences. The economic challenges faced by Argentina further indicate that populist movements can gain traction during periods of crisis.

The global impact of Donald Trump’s election in 2016 is a significant catalyst for the rise of populism. Trump’s presidency served as a model for other right-wing leaders worldwide, inspiring, and emboldening movements that challenge established democratic norms.

In summary, the rise of right-wing politics globally is a complex and varied phenomenon with regional nuances. While some democracies maintain centre-left leadership, a pervasive trend towards right-wing populism is evident, posing challenges to the foundations of liberal democracy. The diverse nature of these movements underscores the importance of analysing each case individually while recognizing common threads of scepticism towards democratic institutions.

Geopolitical Implications of Right-Wing Politics

Shift in Alliances: Right-wing leaders often pursue a more unilateral and nationalist approach, leading to shifts in traditional alliances. This can create uncertainties and reshape geopolitical dynamics as countries reassess their partnerships.

Trade Policies: Right-wing movements tend to emphasize protectionist trade policies, challenging the existing global economic order. Trade tensions and the renegotiation of agreements can impact international commerce and disrupt established economic relationships.

Nationalism and Isolationism: Right-wing ideologies often prioritize national interests and may advocate for isolationist policies. This can result in reduced cooperation on global issues, hindering collective efforts to address challenges such as climate change and pandemics.

Impact on International Institutions: Right-wing movements may express scepticism or opposition to international institutions. This challenges the effectiveness of organizations like the United Nations and the European Union, potentially weakening their ability to address global issues through multilateral cooperation.

Migration and Border Policies: The rise of right-wing politics is often associated with stricter immigration policies. This can strain relations between countries and contribute to geopolitical tensions, particularly in regions dealing with migration challenges.

Human Rights Concerns: Some right-wing governments have faced criticism for their stance on human rights. This can strain diplomatic relations and influence global perceptions of the commitment to democratic values and individual freedoms.

Regional Stability: Right-wing movements may impact regional stability by influencing regional conflicts or exacerbating existing tensions. Their approach to diplomacy and security issues can have ripple effects on neighbouring nations.

Ideological Polarization: The global rise of right-wing politics contributes to ideological polarization, with countries aligning based on shared values. This can lead to increased diplomatic friction and hinder coordinated responses to shared challenges.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the geopolitical implications of the rise in right-wing politics are complex and multifaceted, affecting international relations, trade, cooperation on global issues, and the stability of regions around the world. To effectively combat the global rise of right-wing extremism, the importance of international cooperation is significant. Building coalitions and leveraging multilateral organizations are proposed as essential strategies to address the transnational nature of the threat. As democratic societies grapple with the implications of these ideologies, collaboration becomes a crucial tool in preserving equality, the rule of law, an inclusive civil society, and respect for human rights on a global scale.

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