The Rise of the Far Right in Europe
Here’s an excellent Sunday long read on the new century rise of the far right from Katie Englehart, in which she details the new global alliances, their political polish, and their methods. From the beginning of the century we’ve also watched and detailed the rise of these alliances at LGF because many of the U.S. villains and ne’erdowells we keep track of are bound philosophically or spiritually to the rise of this ugly third wave of tribal nationalism in modern Europe. She also notes that in some cases the modern far right is completely willing to appear as cultural nationalists to disguise their essential tribal motivations.
The last few years have been good to Europe’s far right. In 2010, extreme parties in the Netherlands, Hungary and Sweden gave powerful electoral showings. Soon after, Austria’s Freedom Party raked in over 25 per cent of state election votes and doubled its parliamentary seats. That momentum has not waned. “I would never have imagined that demons long believed to have been banished would return,” wrote European Parliament President Martin Schulz in 2012. “But simple-minded populism is once again gaining ground.” This year in Norway—just two years after a far-right militant named Anders Behring Breivik massacred 69 people on the island of Utoya—the Progress Party that once inspired him won almost a quarter of the national vote.
But this is not, as some observers claim, the 1930s redux—for these are not the same far-right parties. Rather, much of Europe’s radical right has broken with its bellicose past. Today’s far-right parties are more polished and articulate, more welcoming of mainstream agenda points (like same-sex marriage and welfare assistance) and more committed to playing by democratic rules. In some cases, their goals have changed too; many far-right parties have sidelined the fight for electoral seats in favour of projects meant to push mainstream parties rightward. In places like Britain, conservative parties have taken the bait. Earlier this year, the U.K. Home Office dispatched government vans to drive around London, emblazoned with the message, “In the U.K. illegally? Go home or face arrest”—in what many say was a nasty concession to far-right forces. For this reason, the new far right appears all the more insidious. Experts speak of a continental “contagion from the right.” In Hungary and Switzerland, they worry about democratic collapse.
Europe’s nationalists—by definition, domestically focused—have even shuffled toward a common foreign policy. In June, a far-right delegation travelled on a fact-finding mission to Syria, which included a visit to Marja Square, where suicide bombers had reportedly just killed 14 people. Later, the BNP’s Nick Griffin praised Hezbollah for helping Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to recapture the rebel-held city of al-Qusayr and described Beirut as “less alien than the streets of London.”