by Arley Gill
The success of Donald Trump in the United States, following on the heels of Brexit, has given hope and motivation to right-wing or nationalistic movements throughout the developed world.
Since the end of the Cold War, it is my considered view that political ideology has not influenced worldwide, domestic partisan politics, like it is now. The difference is, the ideology has moved far-right.
In a time of massive migrant crisis and slow economic growth, many far-right or nationalistic movements in Europe have been experiencing a resurgence or an awakening.
In France the National Front, led by Marie Le Pen, is a serious contender in the French elections to be held in a few months’ time. She stands a good chance to win the first round of the elections, with the conservative candidate Fillion engulfed in a crisis. She may well benefit from this fallout.
In the Netherlands, the leader of the Party for Freedom, Geert Wilders, is running on a slogan, “Making Netherlands Great Again’’. Does that sound familiar? In 2011, Wilders was acquitted on charges of inciting hatred and discrimination against Muslims.
In Germany, one of the most tolerant countries in Europe for immigrants, the Alternative for Germany party – established only 3 years ago – is enjoying increasing popularity among Germans. The party’s policy platform says, “Islam does not belong in Germany’’.
In Greece, the Golden Dawn continues to enjoy popularity after winning 18 seats in 2012 and becoming the country’s third largest party.
Throughout Hungary, Sweden and Austria similar political movements continue to gain prominence – or, at least, attract attention. It is not clear whether they will achieve political power but it is something that we should note.
There is no doubt that the migrant crisis fueled by the instability in the Syrian civil war, and the instabilities in Libya and other Middle East states, have given rise to this resurgence of nationalism.
The rise of ISIS has further added to that instability; as well, serious terrorist attacks in the heartland of Europe, in particular France, have made it clear that nowhere is safe.
These right-wing movements are campaigning on closing their borders and refusing entry to refugees, in an effort to make their country safe. Although, in many cases, refugees are not responsible for some of these hideous attacks. They are also clamouring for less, or no benefits, to immigrants in areas such as healthcare and education.
This new movement affects the Caribbean, particularly in terms of migration and trade. On the issue of migration, the French and Spanish Caribbean do have strong family and trading ties to France and Spain; the same is true for the English-speaking Caribbean with regards to the U.K.
However, the Commonwealth Caribbean of former British colonies no longer enjoys preferential treatment for its products, especially bananas, on the European market. But, the Caribbean islands still trade in spices, fruits and vegetables to Europe. Grenada now proudly trades in chocolate bars.
The reality is, these right wing movements – whether or not they acquire political power most likely will influence policies in their countries. This could be on immigration or on European Union assistance to small developing countries like ours.
Therefore, my view is that we must not see these developments in Europe, and the ascent of Donald Trump as US President, in isolation and think they will not affect us at all.
Grenada and other Caribbean leaders and academicians should be alert to these trends and help prepare us for any possible negative effect.