Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Women and the Far Right

Some of our international readers may be looking at the news about Sarah Palin and thinking, "OK, I knew Americans were crazy but this is just bizarre."  But how unusual is the Palin phenomenon?  Just off the top of my head, I can think of at least three other high profile women who are leaders of far right movements and who have (or had) some popular appeal even out the strict confines of their own movements' bases.  

Pia Kjaersgaard is the leader of the nationalist, anti-EU, anti-immigrant Danish People's Party, an outgrowth of the older Progress Party which was even more xenophobic and nationalist and of which she was also the leader.  

In Australia (and our Aussie readers can add to this I'm sure), there is Diane Teasdale, the leader of the Australia First Party, a similar nationalist, xenophobic party.

And in Italy there was Alessandra Mussolini (Benito's Mussolini's granddaughter) who was a prominant spokesperson for the neo-fascist MSI and is now a member of the European Parliament.  

I think the Sarah Palin phenomenon should be seen in this context.


USwest said...

Well there is Marine Le Pen, the daughter of Jean-Marie Le Pen, founder and head of the National Front Party in France. She has been an important operative in her father's party and now is head of a group that seeks to promote FN ideology among French youth.

She is a bit more moderate than her papa and than Palin. She advocates choice on abortion and is tolerant of homosexuality. And in any case, the Front Nationale is not based on religion, but rather political nationalism, racism, etc. What do you expect: they're French.

Spotted Handfish said...

Diane Teasdale? Never heard of her, especially considering her party have never had parliamentary representation and are not registered with the AEC. You may be thinking of Pauline Hanson who was "leader" of the One Nation party which collapsed after one election cycle due to fraud. They had a xenophobic outlook that played well with northern Queenslanders: the same people who oppose daylight savings because the extra hour of sun fades the curtains.

These sort of parties exist in all countries and some will be lead by women. The difference to my mind is that these people are not in a position of power in a major party.

Raised By Republicans said...

Pauline Hanson, right! Thanks.

I think if to put Palin and her constituents in perspective it would help to realize that without Pia Kjaersgaard's support the center-right government of Denmark would fall. Danish People's party is the third largest party in parliament. Musollini's party, the MSI, morphed into the AN which is now a powerful force within Berlusconi's governing coalition in Italy. And even Paulin Hason's wiki page says she was rated by one magazine as being among the 100 most influential Australians of all time.

We don't have formal coalitions in this country so our version of Pia Kjaersgaard is in the same party as our version of Anders Fogh Rasmussen.

The thing to keep in mind about the Theocratic nationalists that Palin really represents is that they aren't even a majority of the Republican party. They are however absolutely vital to that party's electoral fortunes. In that sense, Palin and Kjaersgaard have very similar roles in the politics of their respective countries.

The Law Talking Guy said...

The problem appears to be with women who have a "P" in their names.

Spotted Handfish said...

And a magazine referring to Pauline Hanson as one of the top 100 makes her that influential? For a sense of perspective at least on her, she was in parliament for the minimum amount time elected on a Liberal (read conservative) Party ticket, formed a xenophobic party which disappeared in a puff of fraud. Recent, yes. Influential, no.

Oh, and Australia is a young and small country. The top 100 would be equivalent to the top 2500 Americans...

Raised By Republicans said...

OK, Spotted Handfish, you win. Australia is a wonderful utopia with no problems with far right freakazoids or xenophobes. That whole Howard era was just a dream as were those race riots on the beaches around Sydney. Bad old Americans are far worse than Australians. I shall go home at once and scourge myself and rub vegemite in the wounds as penance for my offensive Americanness.

But seriously, Spotted Handfish, you are making a debate about something that really misses my point. I was pointing out that there is a something about far right parties that frequently go for charismatic female leaders to sell their messages. Of course it's not the tactic used all the time but it's used frequently enough that it's worth a look.

Also, while you seem determined to show that Australia has no far right problem, you have not addressed the comparisons between Palin and Pia Kjaersgaard or Mussolini.

Pombat said...

I don't think Spotted H is trying to say that Australia has no far right problem. And he's certainly not saying that Aus is a wonderful utopia with absolutely no problems - schoolchildren here are not brainwashed into believing that their country is the best in the world bar none after all.

What he's saying is that one magazine poll listing Pauline Hanson as one of the top 100 most influential Australians of all time is quite the misleading statistic when viewed through an American lens, due to the differences between the countries. Australia, whilst discovered by the Dutch in the early 1600s, and partially claimed and originally settled by the British in the late 1700s, actually only became a Federation in 1901, the USA on the other hand became the United States in the late 1700s; also the USA is a country of 300million, compared to Australia's 20million or so (that's a few more people than live in LA...). So, it would be much harder to make it onto the top 100 most influential Americans of all time list.

We just try to pass on information about Australia that the rest of the Citizens, being US residents, are not aware of. And I'm also not going to address the comparisons to Kjaersgaard or Mussolini, as I have no local knowledge on them.

Hanson is an interesting case, she was elected as a Liberal Party nominee up in Queensland, although due to comments she made during the campaign, the Liberal Party actually ditched her prior to the election. Unfortunately, it was too late for them to submit a new nomination (election process in Aus is blessedly short), and so she remained on the ballot as the Lib nominee. Had there been time for a new Lib nominee, I doubt she would've been elected as an independent. She then enjoyed a period of support from people who were either far right nutjobs (a la BNP for example), or believed her to be plain spoken, and eventually the party fizzled out due to her policies alienating her base without winning new supporters, its high point being the win of 11 out of 89 seats in Queensland (capital Brisbane).

So, in the grand scheme of things, not hugely influential. Although "please explain" is a recognisable catch phrase down here now.

As far as women representing far right parties goes, it's an interesting phenomenon for me, since so many far right policies are essentially anti-women. Although maybe these women are choosing to turn a blind eye to those policies in favour of others they do agree with, e.g. anti-immigration/multi-culturalism, or simply personal power.

With Palin, I have to wonder if she truly believes some of the things she says - her comments about her pregnant daughter keeping her baby being her 'decision' and her anti-choice stance are incongruous for example. Is she just playing to a certain base? Is she smart enough to be that wily a politician?