W hile the 2016 presidential election results have certainly generated mixed emotions, social divisions and protests within the United States, one must not forget to consider the reaction from the international community. Perhaps an even more pressing issue is how our election directly impacts international politics.
Both moderate and extremist right-wing movements have been growing in Europe. Politicians have successfully obtained office through these populist movements, capitalizing on widespread frustration with large immigration increases, increased globalization, economic failures of the European Union and a feeling of disconnect from their government. With the poll-defying successful campaign of President-elect Donald Trump, the right-wing populist movements have surged and rallied in Europe. Trump will now have the chance to validate past efforts of right-wing populism in Europe.
France’s National Front leader Marine Le Pen praised Trump and the right-wing movements on Twitter after the U.S. election, tweeting, “A new world is emerging, the global balance of power is being redefined because of Trump’s election.”
Le Pen’s right wing National Front is expected to perform well in the coming 2017 French presidential election. The negative effects of this movement are already present in France. Since the 2015 Charlie Hebdo attacks, reported hate crimes against Muslims have tripled, according to France’s National Human Rights Commission. In 2015 alone, more than 400 assaults, incidents of harassment and criminal damage against the Islamic community were reported.
The infamous “burkini ban” in 30 French towns—though overturned in the court system—was another form of discrimination faced by the French-Muslim population. When Trump was elected—and if some of his stated measures are performed, such as a ban on Muslim immigration to the U.S.—our nation was and will be validating not only domestic Islamophobia, but Islamophobia abroad, as well.
Le Pen’s movement in France is paralleled in the Netherlands through the Party for Freedom leader Geert Wilders, who tweeted on Nov. 9, “We will make the Netherlands great again. I will give the Netherlands back to the Dutch.” This ideal was legally solidified in neighboring Denmark after their government passed a bill in Jan. 2016, which stated any capital exceeding $1,450 would be seized from refugees. If we try to identify the source of this legislation, we find again a right-wing populist party: the Danish People’s Party.
A third example can be found in England. Metropolitan Police statistics reported a 70 percent increase in hate crimes against Muslims in London in 2015. Moreover, from 2010-2014, the number of Muslims who claimed British government policies discriminated against them rose from 34 percent to 59 percent, according to the Islamic Human Rights Commission.
Specifically in Europe, many anti-immigration sentiments are present within these groups. Of course, “Brexit” comes to mind when one thinks of European right-wing politics––many have even likened the event to the American election.
Often, political leaders who head these groups support the statements, “Britain for Brits or France for the French.” In addition, Muslim refugees are often targeted in policies that state people cannot display obvious religious symbols.
While all the stated effects of governments under right-wing control are somewhat hypothetical, it is important to note the existence of growing anti-Islam rhetoric, anti-globalization practices and successful office-grabbing taking place.
Though the election results have certainly caused social and political strife here in the U.S., it is of great importance that we remember that we are being watched. Our allies are working with paralleled right-wing movements and they, too, will observe how the Trump administration behaves. The ways in which we accept or deny developments in our country certainly have an impact on counterparts in Europe.