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"In Europe, extreme right-wing parties only do well when they are headed by a charismatic party leader".

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Introduction

" In Europe, extreme right-wing parties only do well when they are headed by a charismatic party leader". Introduction Over the last number of decades, the European Political system has observed the growth in popularity of the extreme right-wing party. This is a hotly debated topic among many European politicians, as the rise of the Right-Wing echoes for many the forgettable era of Hitler and Mussolini. Right Wing Extremism generally preaches the following: agitation against the integration of foreigners or refugees and to curb immigration, rejection of social equality, the reestablishment of authoritarian hierarchies and traditional female roles and so on. In the same way as the Nazis blamed the Jews as the cause of all evil, 'foreigners' are frequently referred to as 'scapegoats' and are held responsible for unemployment, crime and decay in society (Bailer, 1996). The majority of the extreme right wing conceals their xenophobic prejudices behind the harmless ideals of preserving their countries cultural inheritance and national identity. These parties also usually are presented as a vehicle for their leaders personal beliefs. In this essay, I intend to look at three countries - Austria, France and the Netherlands - and the unmitigated rise in support for their right-wing parties. I intend to closely look at their party leaders and question is it ultimately their leadership skills and charisma that has led the meteoric rise of the right-wing? France One of the most prominent voices on the extreme far-right is the leader of the French National Front party, Jean Marie le Pen. ...read more.

Middle

but more so on the ability of the FPO to capitalise on the widespread disillusionment with traditional, governing Austrian parties. There was increasing dissatisfaction among the public with the Austrian government, with middle class people claiming their social status and material security were being threatened. Proportional representation, as employed in Austria, prevented any opposition to government policies and therefore the political and powerful elite remained uncontested. An 'organised conspiracy' against the people took place as economic favouritism and nepotism developed and spun out of control. "The aim is to complete the liberal ideas of constitutional and free rights through the liberation of the people from the political parties...By this means the power cartels of the grand coalition, into which both the main parties have fled in order to maintain their areas of power, will be stripped of their significance". - Haider (Rodenberg & Rippert, 1999) Haider and the FPO observed this disillusionment and waxed together as the other parties waned. Haider cleverly and shrewdly began drawing support from two sides - those who felt excluded by the old system and those who benefited from that system, but felt those benefits were being threatened. What is interesting about Haider is that his policies are scarce, instead he employs a 'vote-getting' attitude, he calls for action in areas where he knows there is no chance of change or amendment, and in areas where action has already been taken. Haider is the ultimate employer of the worst type of social demagogy - he makes impassioned appeals to the prejudices and emotions of the populace, he whored the vulnerability of the young and the anger of the blue collared workers who became unemployed. ...read more.

Conclusion

Internal squabbling and power feuds led their partners in government to abandon them and in the 2003 elections, two-thirds of the parties seats were lost. Treanor believes that another charismatic figure can repeat his success if he/she appeals to the same ideology that Fortuyn stuck to. The immense reactions of both the public and media following his death showed the strength of his support, and the strength of nationalism support today. Fortuyn, although openly racist and xenophobic, exuded an air of style and charisma rarely matched, and succeeded with merit in winning the trust of the Dutch people who shared his ideals. Conclusion The rise of the extreme right-wing has been one of the most interesting, if controversial, aspects of the European political system to date. Le Pen, Haider and Fortuyn are each comparable to one another. They each shared similar policies and ideologies that were intrinsically racist ethno-national. What set them apart however, is how they executed such policies and used their leadership skills, personality and charisma to communicate their beliefs. Fortuyn, proved most successful in turning a period of political disillusionment in Netherlands to his own advantage and along with his charismatic appeal, proved a successful political figure throughout his life. Haider also exploited people's anger with the political elite in Austria, but was a contradictory and inconsistent politician, which eventually led to his party suffering huge losses in 2000 and a continuous decline in popularity. Le Pen, finally, proved an organised and focused figure and was charismatic in his executions, but his strong use of language and intimidating fashion takes away from respect that he sometimes deserved. ...read more.

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