Europe Keeps Moving Right

I have written before about how many Americans perceive European governments as far more left-wing than they are today. This chart from The Economist is from June of 2011, but is still accurate in terms of the long-term trend of left-wing governments being put to the torch by European voters.

To which it might be replied: What about France? France elected an old fashioned Socialist government less than 18 months ago. But it’s already in big trouble. Marine Le Pen’s National Front Party, after romping to a majority victory in the Brignoles byelection, is now the leading choice of French people in the next election for the European Parliament.

Meanwhile, right next door, the new King of The Netherlands used his first speech before Parliament, which lays out the policy views of the ruling party and Prime Minister, to announce that the traditional Dutch welfare state is not sustainable.

Some attribute the rise of the European right to the Euromess, but as the chart shows, the shift started around 2000, well before the current crisis. Also, it’s not just Eurozone countries that are moving right: Norway has just elected a right-wing coalition government as well. Long-term Europe-wide factors, most notably immigration, seem more important as drivers of the rightward shift.

[Cross-posted at The Reality-Based Community]

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Keith Humphreys

Keith Humphreys is a professor of psychiatry at Stanford University. He served as a senior policy advisor at the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy from 2009 to 2010.