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Through this blog we want to provide you with the fundamental information that you need to get acquainted with the topic. The use of religious rhetoric from far-right parties has been constantly increasing in recent years, also due to the rise that they have recently experienced throughout Europe. We will not focus much on the reasons behind this rise, rather on the commonalities that these parties share in their use of religion.
This phenomenon is not new, as for centuries Christianity has been a central part of Europe. Being the most prominent religion, it shaped the European mentality and identity. This can be observed in other cultural aspects too: for example, European countries usually have Christian holidays. The lifestyle and the landscape are also heavily influenced, as in the architecture, taught values and education.
In this blog we will focus on Western Europe, as our contribution is limited in length. However, it must be noted that this scenario is visible in most parts of Europe in different ways and that this could be an interesting idea for further research.
The use of religion from far-right parties on the one hand includes Christianity, both used to justify some of their statements and to attract new voters. On the other hand, Islam is depicted as the enemy and used to spread fear and hatred. Through their political rhetoric these parties adopt the ‘othering’ strategy: they create an ‘in-group’ and an ‘out-group’. During the discussions about Turkey becoming a member state of the European Union, the cultural differences as in religion were a heavily debated topic; various politicians in fact insisted on the importance of the Christian tradition as a driving force of the European identity.
Islamophobia has been present in politics for years, yet, it seems to have increased — particularly in far-right parties. The migration crisis, the geographical proximity and the various terror attacks by hand of radical Islamic groups have fuelled people’s fear, which has been exploited by the populist right.
The first article provides a general overview of the topic, while explaining how the use of religious rhetoric by far-right parties has impacted the Christian electorate of Western Europe in the new millennium. After that, the other three articles address specific examples of European far-right parties that use religion in their rhetoric. The first focuses on Salvini’s Lega Nord in Italy, the second on Denmark and the Dansk Folkeparti, and the third on France and Rassemblement National.
We intend to provide information already available in academia while also contributing to the research on this issue. Every article presents a different academic debate, always related to the general topic of the blog, in which the authors position themselves.
We hope that you find this blog informative and you are intrigued to interact with us through the comment section. Please feel free to leave suggestions and feedback, we’re happy to improve our work!
Who are we?
We are Greta, Ine, Rosa, and Valentina. We are all second-year university students from Maastricht University, studying European Studies at the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. We come from different backgrounds and countries (Germany, Italy and Belgium) and have different interests, but we are all curious to investigate how the use of religion in far-right parties has been pivotal in their recent rhetoric.
Following the recommended order in which to read through our blog: Valentina in her post focuses on the influence that the use of religion in far-right parties has on the Christian electorate; Rosa discusses how religion is contradictorily used in Salvini’s Lega Nord; Greta provides an analysis on how the use of religion has helped the Dansk Folkeparti in its recents success; and lastly Ine talks about France, Rassemblement National and its religious rhetoric.
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