At first glance, conservatives might view the rise of Europe’s far-right like a refreshing counterbalance to years of socialism run amok. In truth, these reactionary parties endorse eerily similar economic policies as the left-wing they so despise. Fiscal conservatives need to recognize that the European right doesn’t reject the fundamentals of big government — they embrace it, making them more “faux-right” than actual right.
This Sunday, France will vote in the first round of its presidential election, with National Front leader Marine Le Pen one of the leading candidates. With far-right parties like Le Pen’s rising across the continent with recent or upcoming elections in the Netherlands, France, Germany, and Italy, Time magazine declared 2017 to be Europe’s “Year of the Populist.”
The Netherlands’ recent general election provides a prime example of this faux-right phenomenon. Geert Wilders’ Party of Freedom took second place, gaining five seats in the country’s House of Representatives.
The Dutch provocateur has enjoyed extensive support in American conservative circles, with trips to the United States sponsored by organizations like the Gatestone Institute, International Freedom Alliance, and David Horwitz’s Freedom Center to sum of hundreds of thousands of dollars. Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, controversially voiced his support for Wilders’ tough stance on immigration in a tweet last month, claiming that “Wilders understands… We can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies.”
For all his popularity among American conservatives, Wilders’ platform is embarrassingly scant on details. During the campaign, he promised to “lower rent” without providing any sort of explanation as to how this will be achieved. When reading further proposals, such as returning the “age of retirement back to 65,” providing “pensions for everyone,” and reversing “past budget cuts involving care,” it’s easy to see that his Freedom Party is very keen on government interventionism and increasing welfare spending.
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