Is Leftism At The Dawn Of A Global Retreat?
By Ben Solis – November 21, 2023
Nonconformist anti-left firebrand Javier Milei’s victory in Argentina’s presidential election has shocked the global political establishment and ended decades of leftist rule in the South American nation. But far from an isolated incident, Milei’s meteoric rise is just the latest in a growing backlash against failed liberal policies around the world.
Throughout his campaign for president, Milei often launched into tirades against Argentina’s “useless and parasitic” political class, and even employed a chainsaw in his demonstrations of disdain for excessive government spending and bloated bureaucracies. Viral videos now making the rounds on social media show the 53-year-old economist vehemently denouncing what he calls the evils of leftism.
Across the Atlantic in Spain, conservatives delivered a similar shock to the European liberal establishment by dominating the country’s local elections earlier this year. Shortly thereafter, the conservative Popular Party saw a nearly 13 percent net gain in its overall vote share, becoming the largest faction in parliament.
However, the results of that election left no one ideological faction with enough support to form a government. In an underhanded attempt to cling to power, acting Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez of the Socialist Party is attempting to offer major concessions to Catalan separatists, including an amnesty deal for separatists who led a failed secession attempt in 2017, in exchange for their support.
The scheme has ignited weeks of widespread protests against the Sanchez government, showcasing the growing influence and momentum of the conservative movement inside a country that was once thought a permanent liberal stronghold.
In France, the cradle of European liberalism, conservatives now control the Senate and have erased the absolute majority previously held by President Emmanuel Macron’s liberal Ensemble coalition. Although France’s next presidential elections are still nearly three years away, polls show that Marine Le Pen, leader of the conservative National Front, would win against all the hypothetical candidates to replace Macron, who is term-limited. Le Pen has been a strong advocate for deporting illegal immigrants, cutting taxes, and reducing welfare spending and red tape.
Finland and neighboring Sweden – two other hotbeds of far-left radicalism – have also seen swings rightward amid chaos and dysfunction wrought by liberal policies. The new Finnish government under Conservative Prime Minister Petteri Orpo is taking on the unsustainable cost of Finland’s massive welfare programs, including unemployment benefits and unchecked power of unions over wage negotiations.
The Swedish conservative government, which took power last year in a historic reversal of fortunes after decades of irrelevancy, has reversed growth killing policies by cutting funding for climate policies and introducing tax-cuts on gas and diesel. It has also reversed its policy of financing shady foreign groups that taxpayers were hardly aware of, like the Association of Serbian Orthodox Women or the Gambian Association. Other features of the conservative budget include tax-cuts for pensioners and more funding for police and prison system.
Conservative Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni is now just over one year into her tenure in Italy and has achieved major victories for what some have termed her “Italy First” agenda. Meloni’s government has reversed a prior ban on the export of natural gas, expanded drilling contracts in the Adriatic Sea, ended the dangerous practice of allowing foreign countries like China to own significant portions of Italy’s public debt, and pursued tax cuts and a targeted program of deregulation.
Meloni’s government has also forced the European Union to reconsider its immigration policies and placed pressure on German NGOs for delivering shipwrecked migrants to Italian ports. Earlier this week, Meloni unveiled more details of what she calls the “Mattei Plan” to invest in the African energy sector and deter illegal immigration.
In Slovakia, the new government elected this year won on promises of lower taxes, including on children’s clothes, feminine hygiene products, and groceries, along with a promise to restrict immigration. Slovakia’s Prime Minister has vowed that his country will not accept “even a single Muslim migrant.”
In the Netherlands, the upstart conservative Farmer-Citizen Movement Party (abbreviated BBB in Dutch) won big in provincial elections in March and is expected to make more gains in the country’s general elections this week. BBB was founded as a single-issue party opposed to the liberal government’s proposed “green” policies demanding drastic cuts in nitrogen emissions which would have destroyed most of the country’s vital farming industry.
The backlash against leftism has not stopped in Europe. In South Korea, conservative President Yoon Suk Yeol has emphasized the need to reduce government spending, and has followed through with a 2024 budget proposal that is the smallest year-on-year increase since 2005, expanding barely by 2.8 percent to US$487 billion.
“The cost of this government is too high; and it adversely affects our business climate,” Yoon said after his election last year. His budget notably features significant spending cuts on subsidies for climate policies and tax cuts.
Last month in Australia, voters also rejected proposition introduced by the liberal government that would have amended the country’s constitution to create an “Indigenous People’s Voice” with representation in parliament. The ruling parties insisted that indigenous Australians suffer injustice because they lack their own governing body with a consultative function for cabinet.
However, neither the Prime Minister nor any other politician could explain how this idea could work within institutions established by the Constitution. Voters wisely recognized that the proposal would only deepen racial divisions, as it would in effect create a special representative entity for only one racial group. 60 percent of Australians voted “no” on the measure. The vote was a major blow to liberal Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, who bunkered down in his executive residence on election night and offered no comment on the outcome.
Throughout the world, voters in many countries that have for years been dominated by left-wing political parties appear to be slowly turning toward conservative alternatives. Along with a backlash against failed liberal policies, what we may now be witnessing is a moral counterrevolution – an outright rejection of the foundational precepts of modern liberalism and a re-affirmation of traditional morality.
Ben Solis is the pen name of an international affairs journalist, historian, and researcher.