(© picture-alliance/dpa)

  Rise of the right

  14 Debates

Le Pen has done less well than expected and many already see Macron as France's next president: Europe's press breathed a sigh of relief after the first round of voting in France. For many the right-wing populists have once again been put in their place after the defeats of Hofer in Austria and Wilders in the Netherlands. But are Europe's populist movements really on the wane now?

The leader of the far-right Front National, Marine Le Pen, has disputed France's involvement in the persecution of Jews during the Second World War. France was not responsible for thousands of Jews being rounded up at Paris's Vélodrome d'Hiver before being transported to Nazi extermination camps in 1942, Le Pen said. The press criticises her statements, accusing her of making a calculated move with this comment shortly before the country's presidential elections.

Many journalists have their doubts about whether the big sigh of relief after the Dutch elections is justified, and warn liberal society not to lapse into a false sense of security after the party of xenophobe Geert Wilders fared less well than expected in the Dutch parliamentary elections. Others see contradictions in the right-wing populists' behaviour.

After the Brexit vote and Trump's election victory, observers have their eyes trained on Geert Wilders and his xenophobic PVV in the run-up to the Dutch parliamentary elections on March 15. For months the right-wing populist was ahead in the polls, but now Prime Minister Mark Rutte's right-wing liberal VVD has regained the lead. The press is eager to see how the Dutch will vote in this first key ballot in a year packed with important elections.

A new police unit has been set up in Slovakia to combat terrorism and extremism - particularly on social networks. Prime Minister Robert Fico has said that his country had underestimated the force of the "new wave" of fascism and extremism. The country's newspapers welcome the measure but criticise that it comes too late to counter the neo-Nazis in parliament.

The big names in Europe's right-wing populist scene gathered in Koblenz, Germany, on the weekend. Frauke Petry of the Alternative for Germany was also present, marking the first time a representative of the party has attended such an event. This will be the year in which "the people of continental Europe awaken", Front National leader Marine Le Pen declared. She may soon suffer a major setback, commentators observe, and call for new alliances to combat the far right.

Eurosceptic, nationalist and xenophobic movements have seen their popularity surge in the last few years in Europe. In view of this trend journalists discuss what the social democratic and left-wing politicians' response should be.

Fear of globalisation is the driving force behind right-wing populism while traditional values play less of a role, a recent survey carried out by the Bertelsmann Foundation shows. In view of the rising popularity of right-wing demagogues in many European countries and in the US, commentators discuss how to counter right-wing populism.

Using her Twitter account, Marine Le Pen was one of the first to congratulate Donald Trump. Like other far-right politicians in Europe she sees her chances as having improved after his victory. Does she now stand a better chance of becoming the next president of France? Or will she be unable to emulate Trump's success?

While Europe's right-wing populists are celebrating Donald Trump's election, leading EU politicians have pragmatically offered to cooperate with the new president. Commentators fear that politicians like Le Pen and Wilders will take inspiration from Trump's victory. Others explain why their hopes will be dashed.

The right-wing extremist party LS-Naše Slovensko and its leader Marian Kotleba won enough votes in the general election in March to enter parliament for the first time. The press is shocked that the party secured the support of 24 percent of the first-time voters. What can stop Kotleba's advance?

Three months after taking office several initiatives by the new Croatian government have made it clear that it wants to put the country on a national-conservative course. Some commentators are worried that the country is shifting to the right. For others that's just what the left wants the public to believe.

First corruption accusations against the minister for veterans' affairs, now an anti-Semitic tirade at the party conference of right-wing coalition partner HSP-AS. Croatia's government is increasingly coming under fire.

After regional elections in which the national-conservative AfD party won seats in three state parliaments the press is discussing the consequences for Europe. Some commentators fear that if Germany moves any further to the right the continent's cohesion could come to an end. Others criticise Merkel for claiming there are no alternatives to her refugee policy.