Jack from the UK, age 15, has a strong point of view. He represents a neo-liberal way of thinking. He has dedicated his life to the United Koingdom Independence Party (UKIP). A boy defending the free market without even once earned his own money? UKIP is to blame. A party only founded to separate UK from the European Union – their particular „solution“ for each and every complex problem a country can face nowadays. Unemployment? Too much immigrants. Failing Economy? Bad influence of the European Union. Answers so simple, that a 15 year old boy is falling under the UKIP’s spell, a party labeled with one term: populism.
As the political scientist Frank Decker says, the term of populisms is mostly defined through formal aspects. This includes the presence of a charismatic leader figure and one form of agitation, which turns massive against the ruling establishment. Exactly as we’ve experienced in England, with the 15 years old Jack from UKIP, whose ideas, based on the theories of Margaret Thatcher, were shockingly established for his age. Or in France, where the left-wing activists mostly feared the force of Marine Le Pen the leader of Front National – not the party itself. After all, both right-wing parties are blaming the government for the problems in the country. Well, that’s one way to explain populism in theory: The success of Front National and the agitation against the ruling socialists. Or the UKIP with their Leader Nigel Farage and his absolute will to quit the EU. Another coincidence: They both blame immigration for the biggest national problems.
In some respects one could understand that right wing-populists are gaining attraction in Europe. There is a significant lack of solutions – over six years of crisis and a European Union that isn’t capable of solving the problems anymore. Where’s the way out or at least a culprit? The populists proclaim to have answers for the things which went wrong. Their thinking behind: „It isn’t nice to blame the immigrants for the problems, but on the other hand we could. Why? Because somebody has to. We’ve caused injustice with values like globalization and capitalism, so immigrants are forced to move to Europe disturbing our lifestyle. We need their resources and their will to work for our benefit – but not necessarily in Europe.“ Parties like UKIP or Front National just tell us to separate these foreigners from our life here in Europe as we’ve done for the past century, to retain conservative interests: Improvement of wealth – probably for children, a house, the retirement.
Mario Stauber with young Independence member Jack
Kai Krings interviews Poul Gerhard Kristiansen from People's Movement Against EU
Mario Stauber at a demonstration in Toulouse
We just could continue listening to the right-wing populists, closing the door, shut down the borders in a selfish way we’ve used to, just to sustain the welfare and luxury of our western life for a little bit longer. But for how long?
Simple solutions could work in short term. But if the inequality between Northern and Southern Europe or the poverty of Africa is growing, then simple solutions are certainly going to fail. Mass immigration won’t be prevented by borders.
On the other hand we could go along and share our welfare and luxury with the whole world, open the borders, getting used to immigration and integration. Then we would have to step back and learn to resign in favor of others, losing a lot of our welfare for better sake. But right-wing populists aren’t able to declare diversified solutions. They will lose voters, if they proclaim balanced ideas which however are necessary to deal with immigration. It’s easier to sell a five-year ban for immigrants as UKIP Leader Nigel Farage recently did. A solution that possibly would work for a little part of society, for a little while, but never in a globalized world.
Our trip through Europe showed the present reality. Populism is a phenomenon that points out, what is going wrong in the world. Being aware of that is necessary for democracy. Necessary for the development of Europe.