In a bid to broaden their male-dominated constituencies, European far-right political parties are increasingly working to add women to their ranks — including by appointing them to major leadership positions. In countries such as France, Germany, and Italy, far-right parties have begun rebranding their anti-immigrant platform as aiming to protect women by claiming that immigrants –particularly Muslims and Africans — pose a sexual assault risk to women and a cultural threat to women’s rights in general.
With just four months to go until European elections that will pick a parliament to sit until 2024, the female vote will be crucial to the success of rightwing populists seeking to build on their presence in the chamber.
Taking a cue from Marine Le Pen, the longtime President of the French far-right National Rally party, increasing numbers of radical conservative leaders have begun equating “the migrant crisis” with “the beginning of the end of women’s rights.” Ironically, these same leaders — especially Le Pen — routinely decry feminism and other women’s rights movements as a tool of the left that is unfair to men at best, and as yet another threat to traditional European family values at worst. But the rising number of women leaders in the far-right is also leading to internal conflict, as many men appear to take umbrage at the presence of their female colleagues.
After Corinna Miazga, a German MP for the far-right Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) party, was elected in 2017, she called out a fellow party-member, MP Petr Bystron, who had told her she should become a pole dancer instead of a politician.
“An ‘Argh’ went up in the audience,” Miazga recalled. “No one could quite believe I’d dared to reveal this. Many people in the AfD were subsequently angry at me. They said: ‘We know you’re cross, but by bringing this into the public arena, you’ll encourage people to say we have a male-female problem in the party.’”
In her own speeches, Miazga romanticizes the traditional nuclear family of the working man and the stay-at-home mother — seemingly dismissing the notion of LGBT parents or relationships as an aberration best ignored. All this in spite of the fact that Alice Weidel, the leader of AfD in the Bundestag, Germany’s lower house of parliament, is a gay woman raising two children with her partner. But despite the inroads women politicians have made within the AfD, the party itself serves to illustrate the limited success of far-right efforts at targeting women voters: according to The Guardian, only 13 percent of AfD’s 30,000 party members are women.
Read the full story at The Guardian.