Putinism Charms Europe’s Far-Right
This affinity is natural as most of the far right are ideological descendants of monarchists. There never was an authoritarian leader promoting tribal supremacy that the fascists and far right hasn’t secretly or openly admired, they have a yearning to rule or be ruled by a strong man with a strong hand and most are really serfs at heart.
A surprising phenomenon is increasingly apparent in western Europe: Far-right parties are moving away from their traditional anti-communist and anti-Russia ideologies, with many expressing admiration — and even outright support — for Russian President Vladimir Putin’s regime.
To be sure, several former and current European political leaders have sought to ally themselves with Putin’s regime. Former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroder, for example, joined the board of the Nord Stream gas-pipeline project (ensuring Germany direct access to Russian supplies via the Baltic Sea) immediately after leaving office. Similarly, The Economist described former Czech President Vaclav Klaus, a prominent Euro-sceptic, as one of Putin’s “warmest admirers abroad”. But opportunism is not ideological affinity.
By contrast, Germany’s far-right National Democratic Party has demonstrated nostalgia for East German virtues, calling the defunct German Democratic Republic “a better Germany” than the Federal Republic. In 2011, the NPD officially merged with another far-right party, the German People’s Union, which has long been linked to Russia’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDPR) and its founder and leader, the ultra-nationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky.
While Zhirinovsky has long been a prominent member of Putin’s opposition, he has displayed similarly authoritarian tendencies, for example, by promising to establish a police state if elected president. And his communist links are clear.
Not only was the LDPR’s establishment a joint project of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and the KGB, but Zhirinovsky has also advocated returning to Germany the eastern territories - including much of Poland and the Baltic region — that it lost in the Second World War.
In France, the extreme right’s shifting allegiances are even more pronounced, exemplified in its budding friendship with the new Russia. In a 2011 interview, Marine Le Pen, leader of the National Front, conveyed her admiration for Putin, before announcing that, if she were elected president in 2012, France would leave Nato and seek a trilateral alliance with Germany and Russia.