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You are right to describe the rise of far right parties in Europe as only part of a wider phenomenon - the splintering of political parties more generally. However the rise of social media (as well as proportional representational electoral systems) are only enablers of this transformation.

The real causes lie deeper - increasingly diverse population ethnicities and demographics, increasingly differentiated economies and growing regional economic and social inequalities. Globalisation, technological development and migration patterns have muddied the waters of simple left right, urban rural, and class divides. So while the rise of the far right gets all the publicity, a lot of the more interesting developments are on the left.

In Ireland Sinn Fein has been transformed from a politically marginal militaristic hard right  nationalist party to a mainstream left party with 20%+ support. The old Labour party has declined to 5% support and the Social Democrats are close to disintegration.  The old civil war based duopoly of Fianna Fail and Fine Gael have declined from c. 80% support in the 1970's to less than 50% at the last election. The remainder is made up of an increasingly diverse set of Green, hard left and Independents focused mostly on local issues.

Little of this would be possible without a proportional representation electoral system, and, as you suggest, the rise of social media and direct communication systems which cut out the middlemen - the MSM and party based marketing machines.  But the loss of social cohesion increasingly diverse demographics and economic outcomes may stress existing political systems to breaking point.  Brexit is one example of such a breakdown. The consequences could be very far reaching indeed unless the EU can find a coherent and collective response.

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by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Mar 6th, 2017 at 10:43:34 PM EST

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