The Alt-Right is a right-wing populist movement centered on nationalism, protectionism, and opposition to immigration. They try to brand themselves as an “alternative to the mainstream conservatives” and encompass a diverse range of right-wing ideologies from Trump Conservatives to people who take the movement to a more radical, racist, and fascist route. Recently the movement has taken politics by storm, but is their movement as popular as they think it is?
Early in 2016 is when we saw the real rise of this movement with the popularity of the United States presidential candidate Donald Trump and the Brexit campaign lead by Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson in the United Kingdom. From early on it seemed that they would have little to no success in the political world because of polls showing Trump trailing Clinton by up to 10 points and the dismissal of Brexit’s potential success. The movement was seen as comical by most people who followed politics, especially the late night comedians. But in late June of 2016 momentum started to shift. The Brexit referendum was up to vote, and leave won by a margin of 3.78%. As a result, Prime Minister David Cameron decided to resign from his position so that the people of the United Kingdom would have a leader that supports leaving the European Union. Back in the United States, it still seemed as if Donald Trump had no chance against Hillary Clinton. In fact, the only time Trump was leading in the polls was the post-Republican National Convention surge in late July. Fast forward a little bit to November 8th when Trump had shocked the world. Even after polling behind for a huge majority of the campaign, losing all three of his debates with Hillary Clinton, and losing the popular vote by almost three million votes, Donald Trump managed to win the presidential election. At this point, it almost looked as if the Alt-Right was going to be a very formidable political force in both Europe and the U.S.
Since these events, it hasn’t looked good for the Alt-Right. Trump has never had an approval rating at or above 50% and his disapproval rating has been higher than his approval rating since his fourth day in office. In the U.K., new Prime Minister Theresa May was experiencing high approval ratings and decided to hold an early election because of it; she wanted to hold a Conservative Party super majority in the House of Commons to be able to go through with the “hard Brexit” that she wanted. Immediately after she called the election it looked as if she would be able to gain the supermajority she wanted; some even thought the conservatives would gain as many as forty seats. In the ensuing months, May and the Tories started losing their popularity and the Labour Party’s popularity started to rise. The end result was a loss of seventeen seats for the Conservatives, forcing them to create a coalition with the Democratic Unionist Party for them to keep the majority they had. This was a huge blow to the nationalistic Alt-Right because now May no longer has the power to continue on with her “hard Brexit” approach and now has to go along with the “soft Brexit” way.
Another big blow to the Alt-Right movement was the French Presidential Election. After the first round it looked as if Le Pen might have a change after coming in second in a tight race between herself, Macron, Fillon and Melenchon. Many of the Alt-Right, especially online, swore that she’d beat the centre-left Macron, but the polls kept showing otherwise. In every poll Macron had from 59% to 67% support, while Le Pen’s highest amount of support was the low 40s. When it came down to the actual election, Macron got twice as many votes as Le Pen did, another big folly for the Alt-Right.
Other countries in Europe have also rejected the Alt-Right. In Austria, even though the far right Norbet Hofer won the first round, in the subsequent Second rounds (the first second round was annulled) the more left Alexander Van Der Bellen won, and even won by a bigger margin in the re-run Second Round Election. In the Netherlands, while the far right party gained five seats in their parliament, the PVV came in second place. No other party wants to partner with the PVV to gain a majority of the parliament. In Sweden, with the up coming general election in 2018, the Social Democrat and current Prime Minister, Stefan Lofven, is leading the polls and has been slowly rising. While the Alt-Right candidate, Jimmie Akesson, is in a solid second place, but has not polled much higher than 20% for well over a year. In Norway, the right winged populist party actually shows signs of losing some of the seats that they hold in their parliament. And finally, in Germany, Angela Merkel is leading in the race and her polls have been rising for the past few months. The Alternative for Germany party shows no signs of picking up any movement, and their polls have started to plunge.
To conclude my thoughts, while the Alt-Right won some surprising victories in the very beginning, all of them have been flukes. Countries around the world are rejecting their message for either more center approaches or more left winged ones. The Alt-Right movement has been nothing but a pathetic attempt to try to bring back fascism into the world, but they don’t realize that no one is buying into the re-branding of it. So, where is the Alt-Right going? Well, by the looks of it now, back into the obscure places online in which they came out of.