Europe’s Rising Far Right: A Guide to the Most Prominent Parties

Amid a migrant crisis, sluggish economic growth and growing disillusionment with the European Union, far-right parties — some longstanding, others newly formed — have been achieving electoral success in a number of European nations. Here is a quick guide to eight prominent far-right parties that have been making news; it is not a comprehensive list of all the Continent’s active far-right groups. The parties are listed by order of the populations of the countries where they are based.
  1. Photo
    Supporters of the Alternative for Germany candidate Uwe Junge, center, celebrated after parliamentary elections in March. Backing for party shot up after sexual assaults in Cologne on New Year’s Eve. CreditRoland Holschneider/European Pressphoto Agency
    Alternative for Germany
    The Alternative for Germany party, started three years ago as a protest movement against the euro currency, won up to 25 percent of the vote in German state elections in March, challenging Germany’s consensus-driven politics. Last fall, support for the party was reportedly in the 5 percent range, but shot up after the New Year’s Eve sexual assaults in Cologne. The party “attracted voters who were anti-establishment, anti-liberalization, anti-European, anti-everything that has come to be regarded as the norm,” said Sylke Tempel of the German Council on Foreign Relations. Frauke Petry, 40, the party’s leader, has said border guards might need to turn guns on anyone crossing a frontier illegally. The party’s recently adopted policy platform says “Islam does not belong in Germany” and calls for a ban on the construction of mosques.
  2. Photo
    Electoral posters for Marine Le Pen, the leader of the National Front, in Calais, France, in December. She is expected to run for president in 2017. CreditPhilippe Huguen/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
    National Front
    The National Front is a nationalist party that uses populist rhetoric to promote its anti-immigration and anti-European Union positions. The party favors protectionist economic policies and would clamp down on government benefits for immigrants, including health care, and drastically reduce the number of immigrants allowed into France. The party was established in 1972; its founders and sympathizers included former Nazi collaborators and members of the wartime collaborationist Vichy regime. The National Front is now led by Marine Le Pen, who took over from her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, in 2011. She has tried to soften the party’s image. Mr. Le Pen had used overtly anti-Semitic and racist language and faced repeated prosecution on accusations of Holocaust denial and inciting racial hatred. In the first round of voting in regional elections in December, the National Front won a plurality of the national vote (27 percent), but in the second-round runoffs, the party was denied victory in all 13 regions. Ms. Le Pen is expected to be her party’s candidate in the 2017 presidential election and to make it to the second round of voting.
  3. Photo
    Geert Wilders, the leader of the Party for Freedom, carried a sign reading “No Hate Imams in the Netherlands” outside a center for Islamic studies in Utrecht, Netherlands, last year.CreditPeter Dejong/Associated Press
    The Netherlands
    Party for Freedom
    The anti-European Union, anti-Islam Party for Freedom has called for closing all Islamic schools and recording the ethnicity of all Dutch citizens. The party is led by Geert Wilders, one of Europe’s most prominent far-right politicians. In 2008, as a member of the Dutch Parliament, he released a short film that depicted Islam as inherently violent. In 2011, he was acquitted on charges of inciting hatred and discrimination against Muslims. In early April, Dutch voters, in a nonbinding referendum, overwhelmingly voted to rejecta European Union trade deal with Ukraine. After the results were in, Mr. Wilders wrote on Twitter, “The beginning of the end of the E.U.” The party holds 15 seats in the lower house, down from the 24 it won in elections in 2010.
    1. Greece
      Golden Dawn
      Founded in 1980, the neo-fascist party Golden Dawn came to international attention in 2012 when it entered the Greek Parliament for the first time, winning 18 seats and becoming the country’s third-largest party. The election results came amid the country’s debilitating debt crisis and resulting austerity measures. The party, which the Council of Europe’s human rights commissioner described in 2013 as “neo-Nazi and violent,” holds extreme anti-immigrant views, favors a defense agreement with Russia and said the euro “turned out to be our destruction.” In September 2013, the Greek authorities arrested dozens of senior Golden Dawn officials, including members of Parliament and the party’s leader, Nikos Michaloliakos, who was charged with forming a criminal organization. Others were charged with murder. Golden Dawn, which again won 18 seats in parliamentary elections in September, was largely silent as the migrant crisis in Greece began, but in recent weeks, members have been marching in several areas where migrants are camped. Party leaders, since released from custody as their trial continues, have said Golden Dawn is planning numerous protests around the country against what they warn is the “Islamization of Greece.”
    2. Photo
      Supporters of the Jobbik party demanded the closing of a reception camp for migrants in Kormend, Hungary, earlier this year. CreditGyorgy Varga/European Pressphoto Agency
      Jobbik, an anti-immigration, populist and economic protectionist party, won 20 percent of the vote in parliamentary elections in 2014, making it Hungary’s third-largest party. Its policy platform includes holding a referendum on membership in the European Union and a call to “stop hushing up such taboo issues” as “the Zionist Israel’s efforts to dominate Hungary and the world.” It wants to increase government spending on ethnic Hungarians living abroad and to form a new ministry dedicated to supporting them. In a 2012 bill targeting homosexuals, the party proposed criminalizing the promotion of “sexual deviancy” with prison terms of up to eight years. In September, a reporter for an Internet television channel associated with the party was fired after images showed her kicking and tripping immigrants in a makeshift camp near Hungary’s border with Serbia. In late April, the party’s leader, Gabor Vona, said Jobbik would remove half its leadership board; some analysts saw the move as an attempt to purge the party’s most extremist elements before a bid to become Hungary’s governing party by 2018.
    3. Photo
      Jimmie Akesson, the leader of the Sweden Democrats, at an election night party in Stockholm in 2014. The party calls for heavy restrictions on immigration, opposes allowing Turkey to join the European Union and seeks a referendum on membership in the bloc.CreditAnders Wiklund/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
      Sweden Democrats
      The Sweden Democrats party, which has disavowed its roots in the white-supremacist movement, won about 13 percent of the vote in elections in September 2014, which gave it 49 of the 349 seats in Parliament. Because none of the mainstream parties would form a coalition with the Sweden Democrats, the country is governed by a shaky minority coalition of Social Democrats and the Green Party. The Sweden Democrats’ platform calls for heavily restricting immigration, opposes allowing Turkey to join the European Union and seeks a referendum on European Union membership. The party, led by Jimmie Akesson, was Sweden’s most popular in some opinion polls in the winter, but it has since fallen back to third place in most surveys.
      1. Austria
        Freedom Party
        Norbert Hofer of the nationalist and anti-immigration Freedom Party emerged as the clear front-runner in the first round of the presidential election in Austria in late April, winning 35 percent of the vote. He lost in the runoff against against Alexander Van der Bellen, an economics professor and former Green Party leader. Mr. Van der Bellen won 50.3 percent of the vote, Mr. Hofer 49.7 percent, a difference of just over 30,000 votes. After conceding defeat, Mr. Hofer said, “the effort for this campaign is not lost, but an investment in the future.” Mr. Hofer had campaigned on strengthening the country’s borders and its army, limiting benefits for immigrants and favoring Austrians in the job market. On the social front, one of the party’s policy points is “Yes to families rather than gender madness.” The party, whose motto is “Austria first,” holds 40 of the 183 seats in the National Council. In June the party filed a legal challenge over the results of the presidential election, citing “numerous irregularities and failures” in the counting of votes.
      2. Photo
        A rally for the anti-Roma People’s Party-Our Slovakia in Bratislava, Slovakia, in 2015. The party’s leader, Marian Kotleba, has said, “Even one immigrant is one too many.”CreditVladimir Simicek/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
        People’s Party-Our Slovakia
        The anti-Roma People’s Party-Our Slovakia won 8 percent of the vote in March elections, securing 14 seats in the country’s 150-member Parliament. The party’s leader, Marian Kotleba, has said, “Even one immigrant is one too many,” and has called NATO a “criminal organization.” Mr. Kotleba is virulently anti-American; a banner on the administrative building in the Banska Bystrica region, where he is governor, reads “Yankees Go Home.” He has also spoken favorably of Jozef Tiso, the head of the Slovak state during World War II, who was responsible for sending tens of thousands of Jews to concentration camps. The party favors leaving the European Union and the eurozone.


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