A Profile of Far-right Wnig Populism in Europe

·         Europe’s Far-Right Resurgence (1 of 12)


Norway: Progress Party (2 of 12)


Norway’s anti-immigrant Progress Party, of which Breivik was a member until 2006, won 23 percent of the vote in the country’s 2009 parliamentary election. The party is now the country’s second-largest. 

 A brochure for the Progress Party urges tighter limits on immigration depicts a masked criminal with the text, “The man is of foreign origin.”

France: National Front (3 of 12)

The National Front’s antiliberal, anti-Semitic platform was for decades locked out of national politics by the mainstream parties’ cordon sanitaire. But under the new leadership of Marine Le Pen, the party has disavowed some of it’s more openly fascist positions in favor of a more specifically anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant platform, and is steadily gaining favor in the country: in local elections this March, the National Front won  17 percent of the  vote, only one percent less than President Nicolas Sarkozy’s party. In a recent poll in France Le Pen came in second place ahead of Hollande and behind Sarkozy. Dutch far-right winger Geert Wilders is reportedly working with the Front National ahead of next year’s European elections.


Marine Le Pen at a news conference in December 2010 during which defended her remarks comparing overflowing Mosques in France to the Nazi occupation.


Hungary: Fidesz and Jobbik (4 of 12)

The nationalist Fidesz party won more than two-thirds of the seats in parliament in Hungary’s national elections last year, giving them the supermajority that’s needed to change the country’s constitution. But even more startling were the electoral gains of the neo-fascist Jobbik party, whose anti-Roma and otherwise racist rhetoric secured it 17 percent of the vote in the same elections, making it the third-largest party in the country. This alliance has already cracked down on dissent, censoring media and cutting funding for culturally important theaters.


Jobbik supporters take part in an anti-Roma march in Hejoszalonta, Hungary.


Netherlands: Freedom Party (5 of 12)

Geert Wilders’s Freedom Party almost tripled its representation in Netherland’s House of Representatives last year, winning 15.5 percent of the total vote. Wilders has become an icon of the anti-Islamization movement with his controversial policy proposals: he advocates banning the Quran, limiting the construction of mosques and taxing wearers of headscarves.


Geert Wilders in court in March after he was charged with inciting hatred against Muslims by comparing Islam to Nazism. He was acquitted in June.


England: English Defence League (6 of 12)

The English Defence League takes its ideological battles to the streets: since its founding in 2009, the EDL has specialized in soccer hooligan-style provocation and violence to get its message across. The group confrontationally rallies through largely Muslim neighborhoods, and in the wake of Breivik’s attacks, the EDL’s founder argued that “What happened in Oslo shows how desperate some people are becoming in Europe.”


An English Defence League rally in Aylesbury, central England.

Austria: Freedom Party (7 of 12)

Governments of the European Union were outraged in 2000, Buruma writes, when the Austrian Freedom Party garnered enough votes to form part of a coalition government. Party head Heinz-Christian Strache was active in Austria’s neo-Nazi underground for years, and even took part in militia training. None of which has tarnished the party’s image among voters: Freedom Party now garners as much support in Austrian polls as the two mainstream parties.


Freedom Party leader Heinz-Christian Strache at a Freedom Party rally in March.

Italy: Northern League (8 of 12)

In the country of Mussolini, the neo-fascists of the now-dissolved National Alliance party have found new positions as members of President Silvia Berlusconi’s government. But they’re hardly the only far-right politicians in the country: the anti-immigrant Northern League party’s Mario Borghezio—who is also a member of Italy’s parliament—defended Anders Behring Breivik after the Norwegian attacks, saying “Some of the ideas he expressed are good, barring the violence… some of them are great.”


Northern League supporters at a rally in Pontida, Italy.

Germany: National Democratic Party (9 of 12)

Germany’s domestic intelligence agency considers the National Democratic Party a “racist, anti-Semitic, revisionist” hate group and its members certainly look the part. But because they are classified as a legitimate political party, they have been able to win seats in regional parliaments and even use state funds to print their provocative party materials.


A National Democratic Party rally in Duisburg, Germany.

Sweden: Sweden Democrats (10 of 12)

In last year’s national elections, Swedish voters gave the far-right Sweden Democrats representation in parliament for the first time. The nationalist party grew out of earlier, more openly neo-Nazi groups, but in recent years has focused on restricting immigration and tarring Muslims as a threat to Sweden’s society and welfare state.


Sweden Democrats head Jimmie Akesson, left, in a traditional costume.

Denmark: Danish People’s Party (11 of 12)

When the Danish People’s Party demanded customs control on the country’s borders this year to keep out “criminals from Eastern Europe and illegal economic migrants,” it ended the free movement of goods and people that European Union member states have enjoyed for over fifteen years. The People’s Party has also worked to make Denmark’s immigration laws some of the strictest in Europe.


Danish People’s Party head Pia Kjaersgaard in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Switzerland: Swiss People’s Party (12 of 12)

The Swiss People’s Party drew widespread international condemnation in 2009 when it successfully sponsored a bill outlawing the construction of minarets in the country. It also sparked controversy in 2007 with an anti-immigrant campaign poster depicting white sheep kicking a black sheep, presumably out of Switzerland. The SPP is no fringe group, either: it now has more representation in Switzerland’s lower house of parliament than any other party.


For more on Europe’s turn to the political far-right, read Ian Buruma’s article in this week’s issue of The Nation.


A Swiss People’s Party campaign poster, showing hands taking Swiss passports.






About grdflynn@yahoo.com

Journalist - Newsweek, Gothamist, City Limits, The Villager, etc. Tracking the rise of nationalist movements in Europe since the September 11, 2001 attacks in New York. Twitter: https://twitter.com/gerdflynn?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Eserp%7Ctwgr%5Eauthor
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