Why the US is Not Alone: the Rise of Conservatism Around the World

For the past four years, many Americans have felt that the nation was being laughed at by the rest of the world due to a chaotic administration that is less than poised. Many have described the politics in the US as entertainment. One man in Australia stated to Reuters “The news is so much better when Trump is in [...] You never know what he said, it’s so good. I think it’ll be less interesting if Trump loses”. 

It is easy for those in the US to feel we are the sole country handling an emergence in the far right including racist and xenophobic rhetoric. However, a rise in conservatism is a phenomenon that is occurring around the world, and the US is in fact not alone. 

Far right political parties are emerging around Europe and are gaining more votes in national elections. BBC creating an outline of the far-right parties and described the various parties around the EU and their leaders. Hungary is a nation in particular that has a rise in the far-right with their Prime Minister, Viktor Orban, being a part of the Fidesz party and running on a platform of anti-muslim immigration in the name of defending Hungary. BBC quotes Orban in saying that muslim migrants could cause "a Europe with a mixed population and no sense of identity." The sentiment that the European identity is in danger is not solely spoken in Hungary. 


Perhaps the most well known far-right leader and party is Marine Le Pen with The National Front. Le Pen utilizes fear to appeal to the French People often stating the French identity is in peril. In her speech after qualifying for the second round of the French presidential race in 2017, Le Pen stated that she was tasked with protecting the “French nation, its unity, its security, its culture, its prosperity and its independence.” 

In Britain, Brexit is yet another example of far-right conservative values rising abroad. A major reason Britain chose to leave the EU was due to the loose immigration laws between the European nations Vox quoted far-right party leader, Nigel Farage, in saying “large-scale migration of low-wage workers from elsewhere in Europe has depressed wages for native-born Britons” when referring to the EU immigration laws. Vox elaborated that Farage makes baseless claims that stricter immigration would protect British women from sexual violence.

This claim is certainly not new for those in the US as it is similar to President Trump’s now infamous quote when referring to Mexican immigration in which he claims "[t]hey're sending people that have a lot of problems, and they're bringing those problems with us. They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.” This is again a blatant use of fear mongering to gain support; a common thread throughout far-right parties.

donald trump speaking at a rally Photo by Gage Skidmore from Flickr

It is important to note that Vox did mention Farage is an extreme example of a far-right politician in Britain. However, the article did state that “like the US, Britain is currently experiencing an upsurge of nativist sentiments, and these attitudes are providing a boost for the campaign to leave the EU”. 

In addition to similar nationalist policies and xenophobic rhetoric, most of the rising conservative parties share a common support base. BBC reported that over half of those ages 45 and up voted to leave the EU. This is similar to Trump’s voting base as the Roper Center reported that those over 45 also voted for Trump. 

Another similar voting group between far-right parties are industrial workers, particularly those who have lost their jobs due to increasing environmental concerns. In the US, coal miners support Donald Trump because he often recognizes their concerns. The Columbus Dispatch quoted him at a campaign rally in West Virginia where he stated “[w]e’re going to get those miners back to work,” His sentiments for coal miners and against environmental restrictions helped create his enthusiastic support base. 

coal factory smoke Photo by veeterzy on Unsplash

In Britain, supporters of Brexit are similar to Trump supporters; often being industrial workers who are fearful for their job in a post-industrial society. The EU imposes many regulations especially on the environment. BBC found that between 1993 and 2014, 62% of laws and regulations introduced in the UK were from EU obligations. Although BBC also pointed out that many of these were existing laws in Britain,many supporters of conservative groups do not see this. They are simply fearful for their job that could be gone due to these regulations. 

Far-right parties appeal to this fear and often find a scapegoat to blame. Many times the leaders blame migrants who they often claim are stealing jobs or liberals that want to place regulations. Although it may be comforting to know the US is not alone is this phenomenon it is also all the more concerning. If liberal parties and leaders want to combat this rise of conservatism the disconnect between rural industrial workers and those in cities who usually vote liberal must be mended. 


Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

Photos: Her Campus Media