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Europe’s Youth: A Rising Affair with the Far-Right

The Rise of the Far-Right among Europe’s Youth There are several factors driving the surge of far-right sentiments among the youth in Europe. These include the crisis of multiculturalism, socio-economic challenges, and the growing influence of the internet. Firstly, the crisis of multiculturalism. A substantial number of European countries are grappling with the issue of immigration. The influx of refugees from conflict-prone regions such as the Middle East and Africa has resulted in societal changes. Many of these changes have not been smooth nor welcomed, notably among Europe’s youth. For some, the sudden changes and the perceived pressure to uphold ideals of multiculturalism have become problematic. They believe that their cultural identity is under threat, and such sentiments have made them vulnerable to far-right ideologies that advocate for preservation of ethnicity, nationalism and strong borders. Secondly, socio-economic challenges are pushing Europe’s youth towards the far-right. The post-2008 financial crisis and the recent COVID-19 pandemic have had severe impacts on Europe’s economies. Resultantly, job insecurities, economic stagnancy, and a growing wealth gap have become evident. Young people in Europe who were at the start of their professional lives during these crises are facing greater levels of stress and uncertainty. They have shown a greater propensity to turn to far-right parties that promise radical changes to the failing system. Thirdly, the far-right’s increased use of digital mediums has significantly influenced Europe’s youth. The internet and social media platforms have become the primary tools for far-right outfits to propagate their polarizing messages, fake news, and anti-establishment rhetoric. This digital strategy offers a sense of belonging and community to young individuals who are disillusioned with the mainstream. Specifically, the far-right’s interactive and multimedia-centric approach appeals to the relatively tech-savvy European youth, drawing them closer to their ideologies. The youthful demographic is also attracted to the far-right due to their disillusionment with established mainstream politics. The perceived ineptitude and the unfulfilled promises of traditional political parties have resulted in a trust deficit. Young people are increasingly siding with alternative political parties – particularly the far-right, who position themselves as radical opponents to the status quo. While each country displays unique dynamics, the global trend of far-right resurgence requires Europe’s attention. Largely, the socio-political issues pushing the youth towards these ideologies need to be addressed. Transparent, empathetic policies, approaches and interventions are necessary to counteract the drift of young people towards extremism.

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