Left-wing vs. right-wing. The common words we think of when discussing politics, but what do they actually mean? Left-wing beliefs are typically idealist and tend to promote equality. Whereas right-wing beliefs consist of economic freedom and survival of the fittest, hence there is a strong emphasis on self-dependency. In right-wing politics, it is generally accepted that our merits are a result of the amount of work we do. This notion promotes the idea of ‘freedom to succeed over equality’.
Recently there has been a massive global surge in right-wing politics. The year 2016 alone has produced political outcomes which have shocked the world, from Brexit to Donald Trump’s victory in the US. Now we can only ask ourselves, what is next?
Britain was one of the key members of the EU, so the decision to leave not only shocked the rest of Europe but also the rest of the world. The referendum, which took place in June, saw ‘leave’ win with 52% of the vote whilst 48% voted to ‘remain’. The turnout of the referendum was 71.8%, with more than 30 million voting (Hunt and Wheeler, 2016). Immediate consequences included the value of the British pound dropping and stock prices plummeting (Erlanger, 2016). The decision is sure to “reshape the nation’s place in the world” (Erlanger, 2016). So how did such a decision come about? The answer, in simple terms, right-wing thinking.
UKIP and its former leader, Nigel Farage played a key role in the leave campaign of the referendum. Farage tactically portrayed immigration as a defining issue of Britain’s membership with the EU, knowing it would trigger mass support for the leave campaign. A central argument from the leave campaign was that Britain would be unable to control the amount of people entering the UK, while remaining in the EU (BBC, 2016). With an on-going migrant crisis in Europe, there was undoubtedly fear of this impacting British culture. The EU promotes the values of liberalism and unity, the UK leaving was seen as a knock to these values. Right-wing politics scored its first win of 2016. Ironically, Britain had the strongest and largest empire in the world, due to its colonization of other lands and exploitation of people. However, this seems to all be forgotten now as borders are closing and people are developing a strong dislike to immigration.
Image available at: http://www.politico.eu/interactive/brexit-european-union-referendum-commission-david-cameron-leave-cartoons-draw-brexit-divorce/
The next political outcome to shock the world was the US presidential election. The election took place in November and saw Republican-candidate Donald Trump win over Democrat-candidate Hilary Clinton. Trump is the nation’s most controversial president-elect to date, due to the comments he has made on various topics over the course of his campaigning. Marginalizing the Mexican community, Trump not only suggested that Mexicans are rapists and criminals dealing with drugs, he also stated he would like to build a wall, in order to keep them out of America (Edelman, 2016). These are only some of the shocking remarks Trump has made, other groups that have been targeted are the African-American community and women in America. Similarly to Farage, Trump also used the issue of immigration to rally support for his campaign, which proved successful. Trump is now the leader of America, the ‘land of the free’, however one must question; will people actually be free under his leadership? America is seen as the power house of liberal democracy and has been emphasized by Ronald Reagan in 1989 as the ‘shining city upon a hill’. After the inauguration of president-elect Donald Trump, will America still be seen as a shining city?
The questions we now ask are what does the future of politics hold? How will this change the world dynamic? If two powerful Western countries, who happen to be the leaders of the ‘free world’, are shifting to the right, other countries may follow their example. We are already seeing steps to the right being taken in other countries. Trump’s victory is seen as motivation for right-wing political parties around the world, particularly in Europe. Marine Le Pen who is president of the National Front, is running in the presidential-election campaign in France. Representing the right-wing, the French politician has praised Trump’s victory and stated that it has boosted her chance of winning in France (Bell et al., 2016). Similar to Trump’s slogan ‘Make America Great Again’, the politician has vowed to bring France back to its glory days and has even stated that this France will not involve a multicultural society, as she is opposed to it (Bell et at., 2016). This is somewhat controversial as France is in the EU, which entails free movement of people. But who knows, France may even decide to leave the EU too.
Jeremy Corbyn has stated that “Politics has been shaken across the world” (Williams, 2016). This is undoubtedly an issue for the global political economy, as the surge of right-wing politics could have devastating consequences. Across the world the most vulnerable are being blamed for the ills of society and are continuously being marginalized. Heavy controls on immigration may possibly have a negative effect on the economy. We can only hope 2017 brings a more promising future.
By: Rina Kastrati
BBC (2016) Eight reasons Leave won the UK’s referendum on the EU. Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-eu-referendum-36574526 (Accessed: 13 December 2016).
Bell, M., Vandoorne, S., and Jones, B. (2016) Marine Le Pen: Impossible made possible by Trump win. Available at: http://edition.cnn.com/2016/11/15/politics/marine-le-pen-interview-donald-trump/ (Accessed: 13 December 2016).
Edelman, A. (2016) A look at Trump’s most outrageous comments about Mexicans as he attempts damage control by visiting with country’s president. Available at: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/trump-outrageous-comments-mexicans-article-1.2773214 (Accessed: 13 December 2016).
Erlanger, S. (2016) Britain Votes to Leave E.U.; Cameron Plans to Step Down. Available at: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/25/world/europe/britain-brexit-european-union-referendum.html?_r=0 (Accessed: 13 December 2016).
Hunt, A. and Wheeler, B. (2016) Brexit: All you need to know about the UK leaving the EU. Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-32810887 (Accessed: 13 December 2016).
Williams, S. (2016) Jeremy Corbyn warns parties in Europe of rise in ‘right wing populism’. Available at: https://inews.co.uk/essentials/news/politics/jeremy-corbyn-warns-parties-europe-rise-right-wing-populism/ (Accesssed: 13 December 2016).