How the refugee crisis is benefiting right-wing parties

The refugee crisis in Syria, the biggest since the end of World War II, has built a wave of right-wing populism across Europe in recent months. Anti-migrant parties in Europe who are already in power, established or newcomers are experiencing a record surge in support.

Right-wing parties which are already in power are implementing new policies.


Hungary, for example, has sealed the country's southern borders with razor wire and fences, refusing to take in migrants under a mandatory EU quota scheme.


Similar occurrences have been seen in Poland, where the leader Jaroslaw Kaczynsk had accused migrants of “bringing in all kinds of parasites which are not dangerous in their own countries, but which could prove dangerous for the local populations” in Europe.


Established parties are also advocating against migrants. The nationalist party in Austria, which made it into a coalition government under its late leader Joerg Haider in the early 2000s, organized demonstrations against planned centers for refugees and wants Austria's borders sealed.


In France, the far-right National Front (FN) topped the vote in regional polls, forcing traditional parties to band together to keep them out of power. Its leader Marine Le Pen has said migration into Europe recalls the "barbarian invasions" of the fourth century. Opinion polls consistently show that the FN leader would make it to the second round of presidential elections in 2017, regardless of her opponent.


Newcomers are getting more and more support such in Czech Republic, Estonia and Slovakia. In Germany, the populist Alternative for Germany (AfD) was founded in 2013 on an anti-euro platform, but has since morphed into an anti-migrant party that sparked a storm in January after suggesting police may have to shoot at migrants at the borders. Its popularity has risen as misgivings grow in Germany over a record influx of refugees. It has won first seats in three regional parliaments in last month's state elections.

Cover credit: Reuters


Christina Boutros