23 Mar 2015
Joerg Haider and Jean-Marie Le Pen are each known for their far right extremist views. To begin, it is necessary to compare and contrast the two leaders as well as discuss their backgrounds, characteristics, peculiarities and potentialities on a larger scale. Then, discuss how it was that he developed into a powerful person within his party.Â Through these details it will become evident which political leader is more important and why.
From an early age Haider was influenced by both of his parents. Haider's father was a member of the Hitler Youth Group as well as the Nazi SA Storm Troops. These troops were helpful to Hitler's rise in power. But once Hitler gained full power in the 30's, the troops became irrelevant. According to Spartacus, these SA troops were instructed to interrupt "the meetings of political opponents and to protect Hitler from revenge attacks." Even young Haider's mother belonged to the Nazi's League of German Girls. This was the only known female Nazi youth party. These girls were trained on topics of motherhood, domestication and preparing for marriage. In the late 1930's there were two million girls enrolled in this program.
Thus, starting at a young age, Haider was active in the right-wing freedom party, which has been associated with racism and xenophobia, and by 23, Haider was governor of Carinthia. The right-wing freedom party has a history of promoting Pan-German nationalism which aimed to unite German-speaking populations in Europe. Previously, the party was known to get approximately 10% of votes. However, under Haider's leadership, the support for the party gradually increased. In April 2005, party leader Joerg Haider left the freedom party to form a new party, the Alliance for the Future of Austria.
Haider's supported segregation in schools and fought bilingualism in schools. He was known to praise the Nazis and referred to concentration camps as "punishment camps". Not to mention that he refers to Nazi World War II veterans as good people and believed that they were merely standing behind their beliefs. Ironically, he claims that The Holocaust never happened. People were uncomfortable with his associations with neo-Nazis and his Holocaust denial. Throughout the years he gradually lost support.
Next there is Le Pen who founded the Front National in 1972. In 1981 this party started to get a boost and this increasing vote share caused a shockwave in the political system of France. The National Front started with 83,000 members in 1978 and gradually gained voters from then on. By 1997 the voters were estimated around 3.8 million. In 1986 he won 35 seats and has been known to win several municipal elections since. In 1988 Le Pen stole the spotlight from the Center-Right with 14.5% of votes. And in 2002 he entered the second round. This Front National party was founded as a coalition of extreme right-wing groups. At the time those who were in leadership with Le Pen included a war convicted criminal, a Vichy militia member during World War II, and the former editor of the Militant. It is said that these pro-Nazi, anti-Semitic, racist members were part of molding Le Pen's ideology. Le Pen being exposed to these people picked up on racist phrases and demented puns. Le pen focuses his policies on mainstream people, workers, and small shopkeepers and so on. In this way he competes with trade unions. Le Pen is against multiculturalism and foreign born ethnic enclaves becoming the ghetto. He believes that it is hard for those in the ghetto to obtain jobs and he believes it would be best to just kick out all of the migrants.
One may question why someone such as Le Pen is able to attain so much power. Well it has a lot to do with the electoral system in France. A system like the first pass the post system turns into a two party system. Countries like Britain have the first pass the post system. It makes it to where only major parties tend to get plurality. However, in France the proportional plurality makes it easier for smaller parties to win. The winner in the second round wins in France.
Haider was known as an attractive charismatic leader who was "influential with his far-right movement from Paris to Moscow."(hockenos) Not to mention Haider was one of Austria's wealthiest politicians with a wife and two children. He was often seen dancing at a disco, conversing with the "average Joe" at a beer hall or skiing in the mountains with his wife. A lot of his support came from middle class who were in fear of losing their jobs as a result from all the corruption and immigration to Austria. Before his death, Haider had been focusing on classic populist themes like tax wasting, political incompetence, and corruption. Just recently France stopped its plan to tax carbon fuel emissions. France would have been the first large economy to tax carbon in attempts to stop wasting energy (grist). At international level, France was one of the first to commit itself to fighting corruption. In the 1980s and 1990s, housing officials accepted bribes from contractors for licenses to build council housing. That is just one of many corruption issues in France.
A common theme throughout Europe is that people have trust in the traditional parties. Lucky for Haider, his party has many traditional qualities. One major stance of his party is strict immigration laws. Haider blamed immigrants for Austria's problems such as unemployment, housing shortages, high taxes and the increasing crime. To describe foreigners he used terms similar to "fake asylum seekers" and these comments were loaded with racist comments. Interestingly, he has been known to blame foreigners for being disproportionally responsible for crime in Austria, although political statistics do not support these accusations.
When Haider decided to split from The Freedom Party, he assisted in the founding of The Alliance for the Future of Austria party. This is a national liberal political party and was led by Haider himself until he died in 2008. This party is said to have many similarities to The Freedom Party. Some of these similarities are that each party promotes strict laws against immigration to Austria and prevention of Turk membership to the European Union. However, the two parties do have their differences. The Alliance for the Future of Austria has proposed legislation for immigration, unlike The Freedom Party. A significant difference between each party is The Alliance Party wants to introduce a Green card model in Austria, similar to the Canadian model in hopes to limit immigration. This shows some effort toward immigration legislation for The Alliance for the Future of Austria.
The establishment of the Front National Party, founded by Le Pen, goes back in time to modern French history. The Dreyfuss case is one of anti-Semitism occurring before the rise of Hitler. It took many people to fight and petition for the rights of the Jewish and many were willing to serve time in prison to make a point. Unlike Haider, Le Pen is less charismatic, much older, and less approachable. According to The New York Times Le Pen "was given a three-month suspended prison sentence for saying that the Nazi occupation of France was 'not particularly inhuman' and that 'excesses' were inevitable. The Paris court ruled that he had denied a crime against humanity and that he was complicit in justifying war crimes, and fined him $14,500." Marine Le Pen, his daughter, who is second in command will be likely to be her father's successor. "The Front National has three members of the European Parliament: Bruno Gollnisch and the Le Pens (father and daughter)." (presseurop) Gollnisch is the vice president of The Front National, far-right, and a traditionalist. Some do feel threatened by the Front National Party. People feel as though it threatens the French identity or will destroy French democracy, but the Front National Party sees things differently. Front National Party sees themselves as trying to keep France "true" French in terms of employment, health benefits, and social security." Not only has the Front National been sending immigrants back to their home country, but those who are staying in France are being forced to assimilate.
Both of these parties are far-right extremists and are known for being racists. It is obvious that the right-wing extremism can take place in several ways. Some examples are the juvenile sub-cultures like the SA troops or the Nazi League of German girls. There are also neo-Nazi political groups that can be influential to the public as well. They have a record of scaring the public into considering that immigrants and foreigners are a threat to their nation. Luckily, according to the statistics by ADL only 4% agree with Le Pen's anti-Semitism views. However, there is a larger percentage of the public that wants to hold to traditional values, control crime, and tighten immigration. Although the left is totally against Le Pen, there is no denying that France has an unemployment issue. In the minds of the public they relate the 12-14% unemployment rate to immigration issue but haven't decided on and policies to reduce the unemployment rate.
On a lighter note, Haider had made attempts to repair his image in his last few years. In a visit to the United States he was recorded making comments about human rights being important as well as a strong democracy (ADL). It has also been noted that he cut ties with people who would be capable of tainting his status. He also started leaning away from his strong anti-immigrant stances and started focusing on the economy and government instead.
Ironically, when Haider died in a car crash in 2008 rumors passed that he had a gay lover even though he had a wife and kids (independent). This is interesting because extreme right parties are normally against homosexuals. Germany, Austria's neighbor, has a history of homosexuality. Not to mention Germany has had homosexual leaders. There were laws passed soon after Haider's death stating that if one were to pass rumors about his sexuality he or she would be fined. With Haider being dead and Le Pen still in the political scene, I would claim that Le Pen holds more power in modern politics.
Although Le Pen is aging and is now 81 years of age, the party he founded, the National Front Party, will continue because his daughter, Marine Le Pen, is more than willing to take over. Mr. Le Pen has run in the French presidential election five times. He most recently ran in the 2007 French presidential election at the age of 78 and came in fourth. In 2002, according to the BBC, "he came second in the first round, knocking centre-left candidate Lionel Jospin out of the contest." Yet, Le Pen did end up losing in the second round. His party's electoral success then declined, before the National Front made something of a comeback in regional elections last month, scoring just under 12% in the first round (BBC). Ms. Le Pen is just as active as her father in her attempts to build the National Front. She wants to relate to the voters on the right side of the spectrum as well as all the French. Gollnisch, Vice President of the National Front, has intentions to run for president of France in January. This shows that Le Pens far-right views are not unpopular if there are people still voting for him.
It seems that Le Pen has had more of a far-reaching influence on politics than Haider. Several members of the National Front party became mayors of French cities, influencing censorship in libraries, civil employment and school spending. Many of these mayors remain popular in their cities, although none remain in the National Front party, There have been party spin offs from the National Front party including the French and European Nationalist Party and Movement for France. Many of the basic beliefs of these groups are the same, but many members felt that Le Pen's extreme public and vocal views were preventing the party from progressing politically. In the 2002 election, he came close to winning the election for president based on a campaign focused on law and order. Perhaps it was Le Pen's declaration in January 2005 that the Germans' occupation of France "hadn't been so inhumane" that led to his greater defeat for in 2007.
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