New Europe, Old Habits: Immigration, Economics and the Rise of the Far Right in Western Europe
39 Pages Posted: 29 Mar 2010 Last revised: 1 Apr 2010
Date Written: March 12, 2010
This paper theorizes that the recent global economic crisis has highlighted an underlying weakness inherent in the foundations of the European Union. While many have viewed the noticeable increase in political support for far-right parties in Europe as a consequence of economic hardship, this research attempts to place economic issues in the broader context of the elitist foundations of the European Union and an ‘unrestrained’ European Political Culture.
To this end, this research utilizes Comparative Manifest Data to explore two primary hypotheses. The first asserts that the creation of the original EU15 was largely the result of the ability of political elites to limit the scope of EU deliberation at the domestic level – thus, the European Union was built upon a democratic deficit that, in the wake of European expansion and economic recession, is no longer able to sustain. The second hypothesis examines the possibility that the political mobilization of European voters cannot be understood in terms of a purely rational choice, economic cost-benefit analysis. Rather, we must consider such mobilization in the context of a bounded rationality framework that intertwines considerations of economic well-being with those of cultural homogeneity.
The final part of this paper will discuss the concept of an unrestrained European Political Culture and its implications for the future of European Unity.
Keywords: Nationalism, Fascism, immigration, European Union, parties, economic recession
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