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Mr Camus elaborated a theory of "Alpine populism" back in the late 1990s. That was when Jörg Haider's Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ) teamed up with the country's conservatives, Christoph Blocher's Democratic Union of the Centre (UDC) took off in Switzerland, and the Lega Nord joined Silvio Berlusconi's government in Italy. "In their discourse," explains Camus, "the three parties converge: on the fringes of Central Europe, this Alpine core conveys memories of the Ottoman threat, a fantasy Islam and the spectre of the War in Yugoslavia, the source of waves of immigration."

It's worth to note that there is (was) variation even in that. Haider himself was a friend of Gadhafi's son, and his ideology developed into a decidedly Arab-friendly one -- that is, the anti-Turkish xenophoby was not focused on religion. Though when he slit from the FPÖ, the new FPÖ went the anti-Islam route.

Liberalism is a fundamental element in the value system of Wilders

This is true to various degrees for the 'Alpine populists', too, as well as the Republikaner in Germany. The FPÖ itself was a liberal party before Haider and still is in name. Though the liberal side is mostly tax cut populism -- nothing at the level of Wilders (or Fortuyn).

Although I've stressed this at previous occasions, it bears repeating that bashing Wilders as a racist or a fascist is entirely unhelpful.

Bringing up fascism (or, in this case, its worst historical manifestation, Nazism) is worthwile when there is a broad analogy to be drawn -- IMO that's just what Doug Saunders does in your final quote.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sun Mar 21st, 2010 at 06:06:42 PM EST

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