Some European countries are suffering from the consequences of the sanctions just as much as, if not more than their intended object. Many analysts have linked the economic impact of the war on European countries to the rise of right wing parties in these countries.
We first observed the trend when former National Rally leader Marine Le Pen won more than 40 per cent of the vote in the last presidential elections in France and her right wing party’s share of National Assembly seats jumped from eight to 89. The French case, which had begun before the Russian-Ukrainian war, could be considered an exception. But this does not preclude the fact that the blowback from sanctions has contributed to increasing opposition to the ruling parties in many European countries and to the growing popularity of the right.
Many of these parties have voiced reservations on the massive material and military support for Ukraine and the anti-Russian sanctions strategy which are draining their countries’ resources at a time when a very cold and bleak winter is around the corner due to scarce energy supplies. In Sweden, the ultra right has just swept to power in the recent elections, ousting the ruling Social Democratic Party. Opinion polls in Italy indicate that the right wing party headed by Georgia Miloni will come out ahead in next week’s general elections. Last week, in Germany, demonstrations erupted protesting Chancellor Olaf Scholtz’s policies on the Ukrainian war and calling for his government to resign.
Analysts see such developments as a sign of mounting domestic opposition to European governments’ policies on the Ukrainian crisis, which have stoked inflation, eroded the value of the Euro and jacked up energy prices. The right wing parties, in particular, oppose the policies the EU Commission is pursuing. The situation, as a whole, threatens to unravel the unified European stance on Russia. The likelihood of this will increase the more it appears that the Ukrainian crisis is evolving into a long-lasting war of attrition.
*A version of this article appears in print in the 22 September, 2022 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.