All across Europe, far right of extreme right parties have been conquering larger and larger shares of the voters in the past few years. Among others, in 2017 the Front National in France and the Alternative für Deutschland in Germany intend to overcome traditional parties and come to power.
In this view, their propositions have been extended to themes which are unfamiliar to these kind of movements, including higher education and research. And at first sight, the result seems quite positive: the Front National offers to increase spending to 3% of the GDP, to create a stronger ministry in charge of higher education. The AFD promotes freedom of research, without ideological constraints and British UKIP pledges for a better higher education system.
Such promises are far more enticing than the policies currently applied by most European governments (reduction of the number of researchers, decrease in the number of grants, increased bureaucracy, …). So… nowadays, is the extreme right the best hope for researchers?
Let’s kill the suspense: the answer is strong NO! The day to day work of these parties, their action were they are elected are in total contradiction with the respectable vows above mentioned. First, the devil is always in the details: yes, the French FN wants to increase the funding of research… but without increasing public funding and without details of where the money could come from!
Moreover, the main goal of far-right parties such as FN, AFD or UKIP is that their country should be protected from immigration. For example the first aims to restrict immigration to 10 000 people per year (including Europeans), the second insists in keeping German as the language of research, the third offers to tax European students to increase the budget of universities… In Great Britain, advising the government is already restricted to British citizens. How can Research – a world where people and ideas circulate freely – can evolve in such conditions?
But I think that the biggest danger of extreme-right is its will to control everything. In municipalities governed by the FN, the administration has started to cut the subsidies of anything going against their ideology : oriental dancing associations are shut down, library’s subscription to left-wing newspapers is cancelled, and so on…
As research is mostly state funded, how long would they take to cut entire themes, especially in social sciences ? Not long I guess: AFD has already promised to put an end to gender studies!
I hope I convinced you that far right is a dead end for research. Don’t hesitate to give your opinion or to decipher your country’s extreme right propositions for Research!