What the Rise of the European Right Can Teach Us


Sunday, November 27, 2022

The Republican hope for a “red wave” quickly dissipated on election night. What should have been a night for major Republican victories turned into a nail-biter that will barely put the GOP in control of the House while Democrats retain a Senate majority. As the dust settles, there remains a looming question over conservatives. What’s next for the conservative movement? 

All the metrics pointed towards historic gains for Republicans. Biden remains unpopular, the inflation rate is at a 40 year high, and illegal border crossings and violent crime are both steadily rising. All of these issues are red meat for the Republican base, yet the GOP fell flat on its face. A drastic change is needed in Republican messaging and candidates ahead of the 2024 Election, and Europe may offer a helping hand. 

This year there was a wave of national conservatism across Europe. In France, Marine Le Pen garnered 41.5 percent of the vote in the French Presidential election, a record for her party, National Rally. National Rally gained 82 seats in the French Parliament becoming the largest opposition party.

Transforming her father’s far-right National Front into a populist force, Le Pen has taken the National Rally into the mainstream and displaced the establishment center-right Republicans as the leading right-wing party. 

Taking a party that has historically been viewed as extreme and moving it into the mainstream, meanwhile maintaining key policy positions, is what the GOP needs. Recent polls put Le Pen as the most popular candidate in France with 30 percent of the first-round vote in a hypothetical election.

In Hungary, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s Fidesz–KDNP Alliance outperformed expectations and expanded their supermajority to 68 percent of seats in the legislature. In power since 2010, Orbán has been the leading figure of national conservatism across Europe and the West. A champion for anti-globalist, pro-family, and strong border policies, Orbán remains a defiant force within the EU, stating “We are sending Europe a message that this is not the past – this is the future.”

Finally, Giorgia Meloni and her national conservative party, Brothers of Italy, rose from obscurity to lead a right-wing coalition to a landslide victory. Riding her coattails was Matteo Salvini’s hard-right Lega party, and former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s Forward Italy party. Together, the right-wing coalition won nearly 44 percent of the popular vote and nearly 60 percent of seats in both the Chamber of Deputies and Senate. The first female Italian Prime Minister and most right-wing leader in post-war Italy, Giorgia Meloni has quickly become a lightning rod for European conservatism, fueling her increasing popularity. Meloni’s goals are simple: “We will defend God, country and family.”

Typically upstream from America, European political trends tend to be a sign of what is to come in the United States. Rampant inflation, large-scale immigration, attacks on traditional values and crime have been key factors in each of these elections. The story is more or less the same in the United States. Voters in America have general unease with the direction of the county and are facing many of the same issues that propelled the national conservatives in Europe. 

An energized Republican base heading into the 2024 Elections will create fertile ground for the rising tide of national conservatism in the United States. Born out of a previous populist wave across the world, the policies of President Trump and his GOP allies have resonated in the same population that have enabled the recent rebirth of right-wing populism in Europe; the white working class. Once the cornerstone of the Democratic Party, the largely blue-collar, rural, and socially conservative white working class feel abandoned by the Democrats. The goal for Republicans in 2024 must be to tap into this same base that handed Trump his victory in 2016.

The United States is slowly becoming more distinct from the politics and traditions that have dominated the Anglosphere. Still divided by two dominant parties, the factions within each party have become increasingly distinct, making the parties resemble a coalition of allied interests instead of unified political parties. Resembling more of our republican sisters in Europe, it is no surprise why our politics have become dominated by the political trends of Europe and will continue to follow in their footsteps.

Jack is a junior at the University of Texas at Austin, pursuing a degree in government and history. His interests include international and Francophone politics, constitutional law, and he aspires to attend law school for corporate law.

The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.

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About Jack Ripley

Jack is a junior at the University of Texas at Austin, pursuing a degree in government and history. His interests include international and Francophone politics, constitutional law, and he aspires to attend law school for corporate law.

jack.ripley on Instagram @jack.ripley

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