Understanding Right-Wing Populism And What To Do About It

In light of the post-fascist victory of FdI in the Italian election one might think right-wing populism is again on the rise. And we have seen other recent successes. Viktor Orbán has entrenched his power in Hungary. Marine Le Pen secured the best result in the second round of the French presidential elections as of yet. And this month, the Swedish SD achieved their record result securing a right-wing majority.

At the same time, right-wing populists are also on the backtrack: Putin’s war has revealed the dangers of the cosying up of right-wing populists to authoritarian leaders. Slovenia has voted for change and voted Janez Janša out of office. The Austrian right-wing populist government stumbled over corruption scandals and ended its enabler Sebastian Kurz’s career.

Against this background, FES Democracy of the Future has recently published the report Understanding Right-Wing Populism And What To Do About It which unpacks the reasons for success of right-wing populist parties in Europe. The report identifies regional patterns and commonalities of RWPPs across Europe showing the relevance of economic concerns driving right-wing populist support and the relevance of generous welfare policies in mitigating their success. One important take-away of the report’s findings is countering the success of right-wing populists in Europe requires progressives to focus on issues of (economic) inequality especially in light of increasing economic uncertainty following the energy and inflation crisis rather than cultural issues.