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European elections: the racists and fascists – what happened last time

By Martin Smith and Tash Shifrin | 21 May 2014

This week, we will run a series of reports analysing the European Parliament elections, particularly the results of the far right and fascist parties – with a liveblog on Sunday night and Monday.

>> Go here for the full European elections 2014 liveblog

To start, here’s an overview of the 2009 elections, concentrating on seven key countries: Austria, France, Greece, Hungary, the Netherlands, Sweden and Britain.

This will give some idea of how the situation has changed when the results of the 2014 electiuons start coming through. A straight comparison with 2009 results will not give a completely accurate picture: across Europe the number of constituencies has been reduced and there are many boundary changes. But comparing the two sets of results will show the relative success or failure of the far right and fascist parties in the seven key countries.

Please post comments below or email us via our contact page if you would like to add information from anywhere in Europe – we will be keeping track across the continent on our election liveblog.

Jörg Haider. Pic credit: Harel

Jörg Haider. Pic credit: Harel

1. Austria

Main Parties in 2009

OVP: Osterreichische Volkspartei (conservative)
SPO: Sozialdemokratische Partei Osterreichs (social democratic)
MARTIN: Only stands in European Elections – its aim is to see a more democratic/open European Parliament
FPO: Freiheitliche Partei Osterreichs (right racist populist)
GRUNE: Die Grunen (Green)

The FPO

The FPO was formed in 1956, as the successor of the Verband der Unabhängigen, a group of so-called “de-Nazified” fascists and liberal republicans. Its political breakthrough came in 1983 when it entered into government with the SPO. Jörg Haider was selected as the party leader in 1986. Under his leadership the party took a sharp turn towards right wing racist populism. Haider himslef was notorious for speaking out in defence of the Nazis’ Waffen SS.

In 1999 it won 26.9% of the vote in national elections, its best ever vote. The FPO entered into a coalition government with the OVP. Following a series of poor election results the FPO split in 2005. Haider and the parliamentary wing of the party left, forming the Alliance for the Future of Austria (BZO). Haider was killed in a car crash in 2008.

Heinz-Christian Strache took over the leadership of the FPO in 2005. Since then it has regained much of its electoral strength. Like UKIP it attempts to portray itself as an anti-establishment party. It opposes European integration and is rabid in its opposition to Turkey entering Europe. Lastly it pushes a racist agenda aimed against migrants and asylum seekers.

Results of the 2009 European Elections

Party                   % of votes                       Seats

OVP                     30                                         6
SPO                      23.7                                     4
MARTIN            17.7                                      3
FPO                     12.7                                      2
GRUNE                9.9                                      2

Source: Austrian Ministry of the Interior

Turnout: 1999 – 49.9%; 2004 – 42.4%; 2009 – 46%.

 

2. France

Main Parties in 2009

UPM: Union pour un Movement Populaire (conservative)
PS: Parti Socialiste (social democratic)
EE: Europe Ecologie (Green)
MoDem: Mouvement Democrate (centre right)
FN: Front National (Fascist)
FG: Front de Gauche (Left – similar to Die Linke in Germany)
NPA: Nouveau Parti Anticapitaliste (Left anticapitalist)

The Front National

Jean-Marie Le Pen created the FN in 1972. He was the party’s leader until his resignation in 2011 (he is still honorary president). The party was a marginal force in French politics until the 1980s when it made its first breakthrough, securing 9.8% of the vote and 35 MPs in the 1986 parliamentary elections. In the 2002 presidential election Le Pen beat the Parti Socialiste candidate in the first round. In the run-off, he was beaten by the UMP’s Jacques Chirac.

The current leader of the party is Marine Le Pen, who took over from her father in 2011.

Graffiti on a poster of Marine Le Pen, leader of the fascist FN

Graffiti on a poster of Marine Le Pen, leader of the fascist FN

Jean-Marie Le Pen was one of the creators of the “Eurofascist” strategy – burying outward signs of nazi politics to seek electoral respectability – much copied by other fascist oprganisations including the British National Party and Sweden Democrats. The FN’s major policies include economic protectionism, a focus on law and order issues and especially an anti-immigrant stance. Under Marine Le Pen’s leadership the FN has moved away from openly promoting its anti-Semitic policies and has instead focused on Islamophobia.

>> Fascist mayors in 14 towns after French local elections

Results of the 2009 European Elections

Party               % of votes               Seats

UPM                 27.8%                        29
PS                     16.48%                       14
EE                     16.28%                       14
MoDem             8.4%                          6
FN                      6.3%                           3
FG                      6%                               5
NPA                   4.9%                           0

Source: European Parliament

Turnout: 1999 – 47.86%; 2004 – 42.76%; 2009 – 40.6%.

 

3. Greece

Main Parties in 2009:

PASOK: Panhellenic Socialist Movement (social democratic)
ND: New Democracy (conservative)
KKE: Communist Party of Greece (Stalinist)
LAOS: Popular Orthodox Rally (right wing racist populist)
SYRIZA: Coalition of the Radical Left

Golden Dawn

This is a Nazi organisation, founded in 1980. Its members have been involved in violent and attacks on people from ethnic minorities and the left – notably the killings of anti-fascist rapper Pavlos Fyssas and Pakistani migrant worker Shehzad Luqman. When Golden Dawn stood in the 2009 European elections it got just 0.29% of the vote. But as the economic crisis hit Greece it has become a serious political force.

In November 2010, Golden Dawn won 5.3% of the vote in Athens, winning a seat on the city council. In some neighbourhoods its vote reached 20%. Golden Dawn made a breakthrough in the 2012 parliamentary elections. Its core electoral message was opposition to the economic crisis and a violent anti-migrant stance. It won 6.9% of the popular vote in May 2012, entering parliament for the first time with 21 seats. Following a second election in June 2012, this was reduced to 18 seats.

Leader Nikolaos Michaloliakos and other senior figures were arrested last year folowing the murder of Fyssas – they faces charges of running a criminal organisation. But the recent first round of the local elections showed that support for the fascist party has held up – and even increased – despite this set-back. The European elections are going to be a big test for Golden Dawn.

>> Golden Dawn in last week’s local elections

Results of the 2009 European Elections

Party                % of votes                 seats

PASOK             36.65%                          8
ND                    32.29%                          8
KKE                   8.35%                           2
LAOS                7.15%                            2
SYRIZA             4.7%                             1

Source: Greek Ministry of the Interior

Turnout: 1999 – 75%; 2004 – 63.6%; 2009 – 53.6% (It is a legal requirement to vote in Greece)

 

4. Hungary

Main Parties in 2009:

FIDESZ / KDNP: Fidesz – Magyar Polgari Szovetseg, KDNP – Keresztenydemokrata Neppart (right wing conservative)
MSZP: Magyar Socialist Party (social democratic)
JOBBIK: Jobbik Magyarorszaret Mozgalom (fascist)
MDF: Magyar Demokrata Forum (Christian liberal conservative – dissolved in 2011)

Jobbik

Jobbik, the Movement for a Better Hungary (Jobbik Magyarországért mozgalom) was formed in 2003 by a small group of nationalistic and religious university students. Its political breakthrough came three years later, when in 2006 a wave of protests and riots shook the Hungarian government and state to its core.

Jobbik uses parliamentary methods and also has a paramilitary movement that attacks minorities and political opposition. It is a classic fascist party. It has three main political themes. Firstly it promotes a “Third Way” – patriotic nationalism combined with an eco-social national economy. Secondly it combines this with violent anti-Roma racism and anti-Semitism. Lastly it promotes a “zero tolerance” to crime message which it then racialises, blaming Roma and other minorities for the increase in crime. Jobbik reintroduced the term “gypsy crime” into the political discourse.

Jobbik’s growth also coincided with the economic crisis that swept many parts of the world in 2008. The IMF bailed out Hungary, and as a consequence public sector workers had their wages frozen, there were stringent cuts in services, and unemployment levels reached 10% of the population and 25% for those aged 25 or under.

Jobbik’s electoral breakthrough came in the 2009 European parliamentary elections where it gained 427,773 votes (14.7%) and three, MEPs. It made further gains in the Hungarian parliamentary elections in 2010 gaining 855,436 votes (16.6%) and 47 seats. Jobbik also has mayors in four Hungarian towns. It is now the country’s third biggest party.

>> Hungary: local elections blog
>> What is Jobbik? The rise of Europe’s biggest fascist party

Jobbik's paramilitary Hungarian Guard

Jobbik’s paramilitary Hungarian Guard

Results of the 2009 European Elections

Party                        % of votes                 seats

FIDESZ-KDNP          56.36%                     14
MSZP                            17.37%                       4
JOBBIK                        14.77%                       3
MDF                                5.31%                       1

Source: European Parliament  

Turnout: 2004 – 38.5%; 36.3% – 2009 * Hungary joined the EU in 2003.

 

5. The Netherlands

Main Parties in 2009:

CDA: Christen Democratisch Appel (centre right)
PVV: Partij voor de Vrijheid (right racist populist)
PvdA: Partij van de Arbeid (social democratic)
VVD: Volkspartij voor Vrijheid en Democratie (centre right)
D66: Democraten 66 (liberal)
GroenLinks: (Green Party)
SP: Socialistische Partij (left party its roots lie in with Maoist and Stalinist tradition)
Christen-SGP: ChristenUnie-Staarkundig Gereformeerde Partij (Christian right)

PVV

The PVV was founded in 2005. Its leader is Geert Wilders. In 2006 it won nine seats in the general election, making it the fifth largest party in parliament. It came second in the 2009 European parliamentary election, winning 4 out of 25 seats. In the 2010 general election it won 24 seats, making it the third largest party.

>> Geert Wilders’ “fewer Moroccans” call sparks turmoil

The PVV is a far right racist populist party with many similarities to UKIP. Biut Wilders is a poster boy for Islamophobic racist groups across Europe and beyond. When he came to Britain, the racist and fascist street thugs of the English Defemce League demonstrated in his support. The party is moving rightwards with ever more explicit racism and is now planning to build a European Parliamentary alliance with France’s fascist Front National.

The PVV is a deeply Islamophobic and racist party; it has attempted to push through measures banning the hijab and halal meat. It wants to stop all Muslim immigration into Holland and launched a website soliciting complaints about Central and East European migrants.

Results of the 2009 European Elections

Party                       % of votes                 seats

CDA                           20.05%                        5
PVV                            16.97%                        4
PvdA                           12.05%                       3
VVD                           11.39%                        3
D66                             11.32%                       3
GroenLinks                 8.87%                     3
SP                                   7.1%                        2
ChristenUnie/SGP    6.82%                     2

Source: European Parliament          

Turnout:

1999 – 30%; 2004 – 39.2%; 2009 – 36.6%

 

6. Sweden

Main Parties in 2009:

Moderates (centre right)
Centre Party (liberal/centre)
Liberals (centre right)
Christian Democrats (conservative/right)
Green
Social Democrats
Left Party (social democratic/feminist)
Pirate Party (libertarian/green)
June List (regional Eurosceptics)

Sweden Democrats (fascist)

The Sweden Democrats

The Sweden Democrats were founded in 1988. They have followed the Eurofascist strategy, in a similar way to the Front National and the BNP. They oppose immigration and multiculturalism.

It was formed in 1988, growing out of the racist Keep Sweden Swedish network. Its first leader, Anders Klarström, was involved in the openly Nazi Nordic Reich Party, and its first auditor, Gustaf Ekström, was a veteran of Hitler’s Waffen-SS and had been a member of the Nazi party, Svensk Socialistisk Samling, in the 1940s.

In the 2010 general election the Sweden Democrats crosssed the 4% threshold needed to win seats in parliament, taking 5.7% of the vote and winning 20 seats. One of these MPs, Kent Ekeroth, is the man who invited Alan Lake (real name Alan Ayling), the wealthy businessman who was a key strategist of the English Defence League, to outline his ideas at a seminar in Malmö

Results of the 2009 European Elections 

Party                             % of votes                 seats

Social Democrats         24.4%                           5
Moderates                      18.8%                           4
Liberals                           13.6%                           3
Greens                              11%                              2
Pirate Party                   7.1%                              1
Left Party                       5.7%                              1
Centre Party                   5.5%                             1
Christian Democrats   4.7%                            1
June List                         3.6%                            0
Sweden Democrats       3.3%                           0

Source: Swedish Electoral Authority (Valmyndigheten)

Turnout: 1999 – 38.84%; 2004 – 37.6%; 2009 – 45.3%

 

7. Britain

Main Parties in 2009:

Con: Conservative Party (centre right)
UKIP: United Kingdom Independence Party (right racist populist)
Lab: Labour Party (social democratic)
Lib Dem: Liberal Democratic Party (liberal)
Greens: Green Party
BNP: British National Party (fascist)
SNP: Scottish National Party (left nationalist independence)
PC: Plaid Cymru (left nationalist independence)

BNP

The British National Party is a fascist party, whose roots extend back to the British Union of Fascists and the National Front. It was formed in 1982, a breakaway from the National Front. For the first ten years it remained on the fringes of British politics. It made its first electoral breakthrough winning a council seat in east London in 1993, a year later it lost the seat after a strong campaign by anti-fascists.

The BNP reemerged in 1999 under the leadership of Nick Griffin, who adopted the same political tactics as Le Pen and the Front National and toned down some of the BNP’s more openly fascist policies. From 2002 to 2009 the BNP won more than 60 council seats. The BNP finished fifth in the 2008 London mayoral election with 5.3% of the vote, winning a seat in the London Assembly. In 2009 it won two seats in the European Parliament, with leader Nick Griffin and Andrew Brons being elected as MEPs.

Anti-fascist campaigns by organisations like Unite Against Fascism undermined the BNP’s electoral successes, which in turn caused the BNP to tear itself apart. The BNP was wiped out in its strongholds of Barking and Dagenham and Stoke on Trent and now has just two councillors across the country.

Andrew Brons has left the BNP to form his own nazi splinter group. He is not standing in the European elections. And anti-fascists in the North West are hopeful that their long Nick Griffin Must Go campaign will bear fruit as Griffin is expected to lose his seat at the elections too.

UKIP

UKIP tries to portray itself as an anti-establishment party, but its main sources of support come from its opposition to the European Union, anti-migrant racism, Islamophobia and little Englander nationalism.

UKIP was founded in 1993, with its primary objective being withdrawal from the EU. It polled badly in national elections but won respectable votes in European elections, taking three seats and 7% of the vote in 1999. In 2004, UKIP came third with 12 MEPs and in the London Assembly elections the same year, UKIP won two seats. In 2009 it came second with 16.5% of the vote, winning 13 MEP seats.

UKIP began to improve its performance in parliamentary elections in March 2011, coming second in the Barnsley byelection with 12.2% of the vote. In November 2012, it came second in Rotherham and in Middlesbrough, with 21.6% and 11.8% of the vote respectively. This was followed by the Eastleigh byelection in February 2013 where UKIP came second with 27.8%. Then in May last year, UKIP made its breakthrough winning a 25% share of the vote in the county council elections> this gave it 147 county councillors in its first serious push into local government.

>> UKIP: the next big test for the antiracist movement

Results of the 2009 European Elections

Party                         % of votes                 seats

Con                               27%                             25
UKIP                            16.5%                          13
Lab                               15.7%                          13
Lib Dem                       13.7%                         11
Greens                          8.6%                           2
BNP                             6.2%                             2
SNP                             2.1%                             2
PC                               0.8%                             1

Source: European Parliament

Turnout: 1999 – 32.35%; 2004 – 38.52%; 2009 – 34.7%



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