The Diplomatic Club organized a panel discussion at Anglo-American University on Friday, in collaboration with Forum 2000’s Festival of Democracy. The student-panelists presented and discussed questions surrounding the growing right-wing extremism in Europe and the United States. Each speaker presented a political party and a country while answering the two primary discussion questions. First, they addressed the growth of far-right political parties and to what extent this was a result of the 2015 refugee crisis in Europe.

Speaking about the Danish People’s party, the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, the UK Independence Party (UKIP), and the state of the Republican party in the United States, the speakers noted that even though each country has its own reasons for turning right, the refugee crisis had a significant effect on national politics..

Much like after the horrific events of September 11, 2001, when the United States began accepting far fewer migrants, Obama’s decision to accept ten-thousand Syrian refugees didn’t please the public. However, islamophobia grew to become xenophobia when current U.S. President Donald Trump pointed the finger towards the Latino community, specifically people from Mexico.

Similarly, constant terror attacks and the increasing number of Muslim refugees in Germany affected the recent elections. Statistics show that East Germans surprisingly favored the AfD, despite their usual preference for the left-wing party Die Linke.

The panelists presented the German WOCHE magazine’s recent issue that mocked the AfD but simultaneously acknowledged the omnipresent worry that Germans are losing their culture with so many non-European refugees and migrants in their country.

The UK Independence Party expresses its anti-refugee tone with slogans like “say no to unlimited immigration”. Brexit was a clear evidence that the people chose to play into the hands of the long-standing demands of UKIP. The second question addressed was about the nature of the far right discourses and the specific policies that produce the most votes. The most notable example here being the US gun control and the prominence of the National Rifle Association, and the consistent voting block this generates for US Republicans.

The discussion concluded that even though economic threats play a significant role in the rise of far-right wing parties, the refugee crisis surely was the primary cause of the recent political upheavals.