Friday evening on October 6th was dedicated to AAU’s very first panel discussion of 2017. Organized by AAU’s own Diplomatic Club in Cooperation with Forum 2000 Festival of Democracy Panel, the event dealt with the ‘hot’ issue of Right Wing Extremism in Europe and the United States.

Taking place in one of the beautifully lavish rooms of the Thurn-Taxis Palace the discussion started with the Club’s president Veronika who presented the work and goals of the Diplomatic Club and then gave word to the moderator of the event Sofia (Vice President of the Diplomatic Club). Before we dove into the speeches, the panelists got a chance to present themselves. Altogether, there were four speakers, all AAU students majoring in either Journalism or International Relations: Hasse from Denmark, Ben from the United States, An from Vietnam and Chris of half Czech and half American descent. These students, along with Veronika and Sofia, are also members of the Diplomatic Club.

The first question the panelists had to tackle was: “To what extent is the increase in right wing popularity a result of the European refugee crisis?” Each panelist had around ten minutes to present his stance on the topic. Speakers focused on different countries. The first speech centered on Denmark, Netherlands and France and how migration crisis was able to enter the election campaigns in these countries.

In the second speech, Chris analyzed the migration trends in the US after 9/11 and ended with a discussion on the recent elections where focus was put more on Mexican nationals. The next speaker discussed change in German national consensus and the citizens’ mistrust in the EU after mishandling of the refugee crisis. In his speech, Ben also spoke about how Germans are scared of loosing their culture. The last speech was dedicated to the UK and British accusations of conservatives not addressing the refugee crisis well. In the questions after the individual speeches our panelists discussed the parallels between today’s German right wing parties and the rise of fascism in the 1930s and came to the conclusion that we are not in danger of such a radical form of extremism. The panelists also addressed IR faculty Dean’s question on the factor of misusing fear and terrorist attacks in the populist right wing party rhetoric.

After these questions the moderator proceeded to present the second topic of the day: “What is the nature of the ‘far-right’ discourse? What specific policies produce the most votes?” The first speaker – Hasse spoke about Dutch and French hostile posters that try to attract voters as well as strong anti-immigrant discourse, but also pointed out that despite their efforts these parties didn’t manage to actually win. In the second speech we heard about the paradox of the American elections, in which the poorest states tend to vote for Republicans due to their deeply ingrained nationalist culture and the power of guns and war in the Republican camp.

In the third speech Ben spoke about policies towards both refugees and economic migrants and the leaning towards a more German identity. An concluded the second round of speeches with his discussion on the British feeling of nostalgia and a turn to nationalism. He also spoke about the recent search for the ideal British society, as well as misusing of the migration crisis as a tool of fear and linking terrorism to migrants.

Due to lack of time, the panelists weren’t able to get into their third question they initially prepared to discuss within the event. Nevertheless the discussion was fruitful and insightful and many interesting points were raised. Luckily, the whole event was also live streamed on Facebook and can be watched on the following link.

The Diplomatic Club is a student organization that holds regular meetings dedicated to politics, international relations and diplomacy. They also organize debates, events and discussions and take part in interesting conferences. If their work sounds intriguing, they have their own Facebook page, which you can like to stay informed about their new steaming projects!

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Publication date: October 10, 2017