Thursday, September 29

The workers abandon the left to vote for the right and the extreme right



The most recent general elections in Europe confirm a social and cultural evolution that may be changing our political history: the workers and the most modest social classes have stopped voting for the left-wing parties, communists, socialists and social democrats, to vote mostly to the conservative and extreme conservative parties, national populist in many cases. The Italian elections this Sunday promise to be a correlate of this trend, according to polls. This evolution has been studied by many European and North American political scientists. And it was presented, for the first time, with a voluminous study carried out by twenty specialists, led by Thomas Piketty, a renowned left-wing economist. Piketty presented that study, «Clivages politiques et inégalités sociales», in these terms: «During the period from 1950 to 1980, the popular vote essentially benefited the social democratic parties and the bourgeois vote the conservatives. Our study shows that this social structure, based on social classes, has disappeared. The lefts have become parties voted for by relatively wealthy graduates. If the left wants to face this historical change, they will have to change very profoundly. ‘Le Monde’ presented the book in this way: «Why do the poor vote for the right? Why don’t the leftist parties, which preach redistribution, benefit from the increase in inequalities? From the United Kingdom to India, passing through the USA, Turkey, France and Brazil, it is, on the contrary, the nationalist parties, the popular leaders of the right and extreme right, who progress from election to election». Some time later, the social democratic weekly ‘Nouvel Observateur’ wondered on a full page: “Hungary, Poland, Sweden, France, Italy… why is the extreme right making progress in all of Europe?” The last legislative elections in Hungary confirmed the fourth spectacular victory of Viktor Orbán and his party, the Hungarian Civic Union (UCH, national populist extreme right), perceived, in the rest of Western Europe, as a kind of electoral and institutional “model” of a “illiberal” regime, which has had, for years, the support of the popular workers’ vote. The urban and the modest Kim Lane Scheppele, a professor of sociology and international relations at Princeton University, has described the Hungarian model this way: “While urban and more educated voters are willing to vote against Orbán, less educated voters, The poorest, most modest voters do not think the same, perhaps because they believe what the government and its media tell them, perhaps because those voters, the poorest and most modest Hungarians, have not seen any alternative to Orbán, even because those same voters are pressured to vote for the party of the autocratic president.” In Scheppele’s opinion, the Hungarian model is somewhat paradigmatic throughout Eastern Europe, for these reasons: “The case of Hungary shows how autocrats can legally win elections, relying on their electorate, conservative and ultra-conservative, to change the laws ». A few days ago, the European Parliament declared that Hungary «can no longer be considered a full democracy, turned into an electoral autocracy. Autocracy supported in a very significant way by the workers’ vote. In political, electoral and historical terms, Orbán’s Hungary is ‘only’ one case among others throughout Eastern Europe, from Austria to Poland to the Czech Republic. The right wing of Christian Democrat origin and the extreme right have been the majority forces in Austria for years, with more popular/worker votes than social democracy and liberalism. The recent tradition of the Austrian extreme right has 20 or 30 years of history, with a solid popular implantation. In Poland, the most conservative right and a conservative center, with a large popular vote, have long dominated the national scene, to the detriment of a minority left supported by more affluent social sectors. In the Czech Republic, the Alliance of Disgruntled Citizens (ACD) led by Andrej Babiš, the second richest man in the country, is the great political revelation of the last decade, defending models and ideals that are close, in their own way, to those of Orbán and Boris Johnson. Throughout Eastern Europe, the communist past is a terrifying legacy, impossible to assume: it has left an atrocious memory among workers and popular classes. It is not by chance, perhaps, that for months the Polish leaders have been severely criticizing the old Europe in crisis of the old and defunct Franco-German ‘axis’. From the point of view of Polish conservatism, in power, with much popular support, it is urgent to defend a “new Europe”, more “inclined” towards the East. A Polish turn that has coincided, for years, with the consolidation of a very conservative workers’ vote in Germany. Klaus Dörre, a professor at the University of Jean, published put this turn on the table with an article entitled: “Are we witnessing the emergence of a labor movement of the extreme right?” In the UK, the popular vote, and the vote of the victims of globalisation, is a well-documented story, from Brexit to Johnson and Liz Truss. That same working-class vote in regions victimized by deindustrialization played a role in the rise of Donald Trump and the Cainist clashes that today divide the US in the most disturbing way since the 1861-1865 Civil War. In the French legislative elections last June, the group of the left, PS, PCF, La France Insumisa (LFI) and the ecologists had, together, fewer votes and fewer deputies than the National Group (AN, extreme right). The French workers stopped voting communist and socialist at the end of the 1990s, to start voting for the extreme right around the same time. FN and AN have been the first workers’ party in France for twenty-five years. Jérôme Fourquet, director of studies at the IFOP (French Institute of Public Opinion), is the author of a study entitled “How the left has lost the workers’ vote to the benefit of the extreme right, during the last thirty years”. And he writes: “For years, more than four out of ten French workers have voted for the extreme right. Everything happens as if the extreme right of the Le Pen family has capitalized on the vote of those who consider themselves victims of a new society dominated by voters with a higher economic and educational level. “Is that the future?” The triumph of the right wing, traditional and ultra newly minted, in Sweden, a few days ago, is reasonably similar to the French case. The working class and less favored voters abandon the traditional, social democratic left, in favor of the ‘new’ conservatism. “It is an example of the turn to the right of the voters in Europe,” reported ‘The New York Times’, adding: “The extreme right makes history in Sweden. Is that the future? Dominique Reiné, director of Fondapol (Foundation for Political Innovation), assesses the recent Swedish elections in this way: «The irresponsible policy of the Social Democrats on immigration has decisively contributed to the victory of the right. The rise of the right and extreme right, populist, affects the entire democratic world and, in particular, all European countries. What happened in Sweden may happen tomorrow in Italy. Rejection of elites Davide Monaco, director of the department of European politics at the University of Manchester, has drawn the same parallel: “The rise of far-right, anti-establishment forces began across Europe a long decade ago. It was and still is an electoral force of rejection against the ruling elites in favor of globalization. In Italy, as in the rest of Europe, those forces began to grow years ago, denouncing neoliberalism and the budgetary policies of the European Union. According to all estimates and studies, the Italian elections could confirm this continental trend, confirming a conservative vote, extreme conservative, superior to the vote of the left of various kinds. From Rome to Warsaw, from Prague to Paris, from Budapest to London, each market and political society has its own characteristics that explain the historical turn of the workers’ vote towards the right, which are also different. Globally, however, with the essential nuances, the estimation of Piketty, a left-wing economist, seems to be confirmed when he presented the study carried out by numerous specialists in fifty countries on five continents: «The new left and the environmentalists seem to have the support of well-qualified and well-paid professions, performing hierarchical tasks of a certain level in sectors such as health, social services and communication. On the contrary, in numerous countries, the workers have abandoned the social democratic parties and assimilated are today the heart of the electoral base of the extreme right».


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