[27.5.19 – updated with results from the 2019 European parliament elections]
“United in diversity” is the motto of the EU. This week, voters will goes to the polls to elect a new European parliament. But it will not be “united in diversity”.
We have seen a huge growth of fascist and racist activity across the continent over the past few years. In 2016 we produced our first country by country guide and essay analysing the revival of the far right.
But that revival has gathered pace since then. In some countries fascist or far right parties are in government, in others they are challenging for power and new formations have emerged.
Fascist and racist parties are set to make significant electoral gains by denigrating refugees and migrants, vilifying Muslims, attacking black people, maligning Roma people and promoting antisemitism.
We start with our country by country guide and will continue with an analysis – coming soon! – looking at the different political formations developing and their growing interrelationship with each other.
Our survey begins with a table of election results. This shows the spread of both fascist and far right racist populist parties across Europe and the electoral strength they have.
But it is important to note that the table gives only an indication of the electoral strength of fascism and the far right. In our country by country guide and our full analysis to follow, we will also be looking at the strength of the paramilitary groups and street movements that make up the other wing of the European fascist and far right scene.
The table is intended to give an at a glance view of election results. But the figures should be treated with a degree of caution. Results cannot be directly compared between countries because of variations in the electoral systems in use – this applies even to the elections for MEP seats in the European Parliament.
The timing of national elections, with countries going to the polls in different years, also makes direct comparisons problematic. We have used the most recent parliamentary election results in each country – but this means that in some countries the scale of the problem can be hidden, where far right parties have grown but new elections have not been held for some time.
A number of countries are set to go to the polls this year and a snap election has just been called in Austria.
Election results: national and European parliaments
You can click on a country name to go straight to our guide to fascism and the far right in that country or scroll down to read our full guide
|Last election %||Number of MPs||2019 EP %||2019 MEPs||2014 EP %||2014 MEPs|
|Patriotic Front*||see UP||1.14||0||3.05||0|
|United Patriots *||9.07||27|
|Freedom and Direct Democracy||10.6||22||9.14||2|
|Alternative For Patriots||n/a||(3)||0.49||0||n/a|
|Danish Peoples Party||21.1||37||10.7||1||26.6||4|
|Front National (now RN)||13.2||8||23.31||22||24.86||24|
|Ligue du Sud (FN splinter)||n/a||1|
|Ruch Narodowy (RN) **||n/a||10||1.39||0|
|Konfederacja (RN + Korwin alliance)||4.55||0|
|Slovak National Party (SNS)||8.64||15||4.1||0||3.61||0|
|Kotleba – People’s Party Our Slovakia (ĽSNS)||8.4||14||12.1||2||1.73||0|
|Sweden Democrats (SD)||17.53||62||15.4||3||9.7||2|
|Pravy Sektor (Right Sector)||1.8||1||n/a||n/a||n/a||n/a|
Country by country guide
We hope this comprehensive 2019 update of our guide will be of use to antifascists and antiracists across Europe.
As before, we focus on those European countries where fascist and racist parties have made significant electoral breakthroughs or where we are seeing the growth of large street movements or paramilitary forces. There are small fascist groups operating in several other countries, but with very small numbers and little impact.
We intend to look separately at the situation in Russia at a later date and have not included it here.
And of course the rise of the far right is not confined to Europe. Donald Trump won the presidency in the US and in Brazil the far right racist Jair Bolsonaro, a supporter of dictatorship, was elected as president.
We would like to encourage readers to send us comments, reports and analysis of fascist and racist parties that are active your country or region.
You are welcome to post your thoughts in the comments section, or if you would rather get in touch with us offline, you can email us via our Contact page. We had a huge response to our first guide and hope our readers will continue to support this project.
** 2019 Euro election update: The FPÖ saw a slight dip in its vote, from 19.7% to 17.2% – but the party will have felt its vote held up well given that the election came within days of the scandal that brought down the FPÖ’s leader Strache.
Following huge successes in the 2017 general election the far right FPÖ became part of a coalition government in Austria, alongside the conservative ÖVP. But as we write (19 May 2019) FPÖ leader Heinz-Christian Strache has resigned his position as vice-chancellor amid a scandal over contracts and Russian influence, and a new general election has been called.
The FPÖ also came within a whisker of winning the Austrian presidential election in 2016.
Freedom Party of Austria (Freiheitliche Partei Österreichs, FPÖ)
The FPÖ is a far right racist populist party. It was formed in 1956 as the successor of the Verband der Unabhängigen, a group of so-called “de-Nazified” fascists and liberal republicans. Its first two leaders, Anton Reinthaller and Friedrich Peter, were both former members of the Waffen SS.
But in the 1960s and 1970s the FPÖ became a centre right party promoting free market policies. Its first political breakthrough came in 1983 when it entered into a coalition government with the Social Democratic Party (SPÖ). It remains a party with a mixed membership that includes some fascist elements.
The FPÖ’s turn to far right populism took place under the leadership of Jörg Haider, in 1986. Under his leadership the party began to adopt racist policies attacking asylum seekers and migrants. Haider became notorious for speaking out in defence of the SS and praising Hitler’s “full employment” policies.
In 1999, the FPÖ won 26.9% of the vote in national elections, its best ever result, and entered into a coalition government with the centre right ÖVP. Following a series of poor election results the FPÖ split in 2005. Haider and the parliamentary section of the party left, forming the Alliance for the Future of Austria (BZÖ), but Haider was killed three years later in a car crash.
The leadership of FPÖ passed to Haider’s long-term disciple, Heinz-Christian Strache, in 2005. Under Strache the FPÖ has regained much of its electoral strength.
It opposes European integration, it is rabidly opposed to Turkey entering the EU and attempts to portray itself as an anti-establishment party.
Strache is antisemitic: he was widely condemned in 2012 after he posted a caricature on his Facebook page of a banker with a hooked nose, wearing Star of David cufflinks.
The core electoral support for the FPÖ comes from its racist agenda. It spearheads campaigns against migrants and asylum seekers. The FPÖ has also targeted the country’s Muslim population, stirring up alarm against the so-called “Islamisation” of Austria.
The FPÖ came within a whisker of winning the Austrian presidency in 2016. Its presidential candidate, Norbert Hofer, is an advisor to Strache and has urged the party even further to the right.
He is a member of a deeply reactionary pan-German nationalist student fraternity, an irredentist who wants Italy’s South Tyrol to be incorporated into Austria, and a man who has been photographed wearing the blue cornflower symbol adopted by Austria’s Nazis when they were banned in the 1930s.
In the presidential poll Hofer gained 49.7% of the vote against the eventual winner Green candidate Alexander Van der Bellen’s 50.3%. The scale of the FPÖ’s vote is a very worrying signal of its potential strength.
The FPÖ’s entry into government has been marked by a series of attempts to introduce new laws seeking financial sanctions against immigrants who keep their own culture and “do not integrate” with Austrian society. The government has also introduced a law aimed at banning the hijab (headscarf worn by some Muslims) in primary schools.
Strache, now Austria’s vice chancellor, is fond of echoing the “great replacement” rhetoric associated with the Identitarian movement (see below). He says, “There is a creeping Islamisation, a population change, or a population displacement.”
Identitarian Movement of Austria (Identitäre Bewegung Österreichs, IBÖ) – a branch of the pan-European organisation Generation Identity
Austria has a significant section of the international GI movement, and its leader Martin Sellner is a key figure in this across Europe.
GI wants an all-white Europe, with black people and other ethnic minorities removed elsewhere. It is a nazi organisation that is building a highly ideological activist cadre – for more, see France [LINK].
Sellner has been banned from both the US and Britain (where “Tommy Robinson” – Stephen Yaxley-Lennon) read out Sellner’s speech in a gesture of support.
The IBÖ received a donation from nazi Brent Tarrant, the alleged perpetrator of the Christchurch massacre in New Zealand, and has also admitted corresponding with him by email and offering him a coffee.
In Austria, the IBÖ is seeking to build from the much broader current of the FPÖ, especially among its youth wing, and has had some successes in securing FPÖ speakers for some of its events.
** 2019 Euro election and Federal election: Both the European elections and the federal elections held on the same day saw big gains for the far right.
The fascist Vlaams Belng saw its vote rocket upwards from 3.67% to 11.95% in the federal vote and from 4.06% to 12.05% in the European election.
The vote of the N-VA, which has made a shift towards the racist far right, fell from 20.26% to 16.03% in the federal elections, but it remains the largest party. It also saw a slight fall from 16.79% to 14.07% in Europe.
The two parties between them now account for more than a quarter of the Belgian vote, but the momentum has shifted towards the Vlaams Belang with its harder politics.
The Vlaams Belang (Flemish Interest, VB)
Vlaams Belang is a fascist party, with a Flemish nationalist and racist platform. The party was formerly called Vlaams Blok and its supporters were Hitler worshippers with very close ties to Belgium’s wartime Nazi collaborators.
One of Vlaams Blok’s leading members was Philip Dewinter (now a leading member of Vlaams Belang), who is happy to cite leading Belgian Nazis and collaborators as close friends. In 1998 he visited a cemetery and laid flowers at the graves of 38 Flemish SS members who fought for the Nazis.
According to historian Christophe Diercxsens, Dewinter was also the guest speaker for a gathering of the former SS collaborators of Sint-Maartensfonds in 2001. Dewinter opened his speech with the words, “My honour is loyalty” – the official motto of the German SS soldiers during the Second World War.
Vlaams Blok was forced to disband after Roeland Raes, the Vlaams Blok vice-president, gave an interview on Dutch TV in 2001 in which he questioned the number of Jews killed in the Holocaust and the authenticity of Anne Frank’s diary. Vlaams Blok was taken to court in 2004 and found guilty of racism and discrimination. It was forced to disband, with Vlaams Belang launched in its place.
Vlaams Belang has three MPs and one MEP. While it has publicly distanced themselves from the former Vlaams Blok, it continues to promote the same issues. The party has built its electoral base on campaigning for Flemish independence, is a fierce opponent of immigration and is Islamophobic to its core.
The party seeks “repatriation” of immigrants who “reject, deny or combat” Flemish culture, while Dewinter has said women wearing the hijab have “effectively signed their contract for deportation”.
New Flemish Alliance (Nieuw-Vlaamse Alliantie, N-VA)
We did not include the N-VA, a Flemish nationalist and conservative party, in our 2016 survey of the far right. But it has moved sharply to the right since then under leader Bart De Wever.
It is the largest party in Flanders and in Belgium, and was in the country’s coalition government from 2014 until 2018. Then it pulled the plug, bringing the government down in a bid to stop moves for Belgium to support the UN global compact on migration.
In December 2018, Jan Peumans, N-VA chair of the Flemish parliament, facilitated a meeting organised in parliament by the Vlaams Belang, which was attended by US far right guru Steve Bannon and French fascist leader Marine Le Pen.
Bulgaria now has hardcore fascists in government, with the United Patriots holding seven out of 21 cabinet posts.
United Patriots (UP) – a coalition of three nazi parties, the Ataka (“Attack”) party, the Bulgarian National Movement (VMRO) and the National Front for the Salvation of Bulgaria (NFSB), a split from Ataka.
In the general election of March 2017, United Patriots took 9.07% and won 27 seats, slightly down from the 30 that the combined fascist parties gained last time. But its position has been hugely strengthened now it is in government, where its ministerial portfolios include the economy, “demographic policy”, public order, national security, defence, labour and social policy, and culture.
In November the previous year, Krasimir Karakachanov, the fascists’ candidate in Bulgaria’s presidential election took 15% of the vote‚ sharply up on previous elections, finishing in third place.
These parliamentary fascist organisations are closely linked with the armed paramilitary groups that are “hunting” refugees at Bulgaria’s borders. They are also involved in anti-Roma pogroms.
And they target Bulgaria’s Turkish and Muslim population, while the VMRO is an irredentist party that seeks a “Greater Bulgaria”, chomping up Macedonia and parts of Serbia, Romania and Greece.
National People’s Front (Ethniko Laiko Metopo, ELAM)
ELAM is a nazi party formed as a Cypriot spin-off from Golden Dawn in Greece in 2008. It is a violent ultra-nationalist and anti-immigration, and seeks to encourage division between Greek and Turkish Cypriots.
In 2014 ELAM thugs attacked a conference aimed at promoting the reunification of the divided island, at which former Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat was a speaker.
ELAM took 3.7% of votes at the last general election in 2016, gaining two MPs.
Miloš Zeman won the Czech Republic’s presidential election in 2018. Zeman is a rightwing populist who ran an anti-migrant campaign.
Zeman’s victory was in part due to the support he received from the far right populist anti-immigration SPD. At his victory speech in Prague, he invited Tomio Okamura, the leader of the SPD to stand at his side.
Racist populist billionaire Andrej Babiš and his ANO party won the October 2017 parliamentary elections in the Czech Republic with a landslide, taking 29.65%, nearly three times the vote of his nearest rivals.
Babiš is the second wealthiest man in the Czech Republic, owner of agriculture, food and chemical company Agrofert and media publishing firm MAFRA.
He built the successful campaign of his ANO party – essentially a one-man band – on the back of racism against Muslims, immigrants and the Czech Republic’s embattled Roma minority, who suffer very severe discrimination.
In 2016, Babis caused a storm with appalling Holocaust denial comments aimed at Roma victims.
Freedom and Direct Democracy party (SPD – Svoboda a Přímá Demokracie – Tomio Okamura)
In the 2017 Czech general election Okamura’s SPD won 11% of the vote gaining 22 seats. It is currently the third largest parliamentary party.
The SPD has strong links with other European far right parties. In 2017 Okamura hosted a conference in Prague to help regroup Europe’s far right. Marine Le Pen, Geert Wilders and a host of other European fascist and far right populist politicians attended the conference.
And in April 2019 when the SPD held its European election rally in Prague, Le Pen and Wilders addressed the rally and Matteo Salvini, Italy’s interior minister, sent a video message.
Unified Alternative for Patriots (Jednotní Alternativa Pro Patrioty, UAP)
The UAP is another influential far right racist party in the Czech Republic. Three SPD MPs who left the party earlier this year founded it and they are its sole representatives in the Czech parliament. It allows nazis to join.
It will stand in 2019 European Parliament election on the Alternative for the Czech Republic list.
Both the SPD and UAP are building links with far right street movements.
In 2014 Dawn – National Coalition (Úsvit – Národní koalice) was the largest far right party in the Czech Republic with 14 MPs. Its fortunes declined sharply after it expelled Okamura from its ranks and it dissolved in 2018.
There will be a general election in Denmark on 5 June 2019.
Danish People’s Party (Dansk Folkeparti, DPP)
** 2019 Euro elections: the DPP vote has crashed from 26.6% to 10.7%.
The DPP is a far right racist populist party that has built up its support by targeting migrants and Muslims. It also opposes multiculturalism.
In April 2019 it announced that it was going to work in an alliance in the European Parliament with the Northern League, the German Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) and Finnish party the Finns.
In 2014 the party won the European Parliament election in Denmark with 27% of the vote, and three MEPs. It also has 37 MPs and supports the ruling liberal/conservative coalition.
Entering the coalition has seen the DPP toned down its political agenda and rhetoric. But the move has enabled it to implement its policies on immigration. Denmark now has the most restrictive immigration policies in Europe.
Antifascists should also keep an eye on two other parties that pollsters predict will win seats in the upcoming election.
The Stram Kurs (Hard Line party) is led by Rasmus Paludan, a lawyer who is currently appealing against a conviction for racism. He played a key role in the anti-migrant riots in Copenhagen over Easter.
Nye Borgerlige (New Right) is led by Pernille Vermund. It wants to introduce even stricter immigration controls, leave the EU and introduce bans on headscarves in schools, universities and public buildings.
** 2019 Euro elections: EKRE’s vote has jumped from 4% last time to 12.7% and it has gained an MEP.
Estonia has a hardcore fascist party as part of its coalition government, with five out of 15 cabinet seats.
Conservative People’s Party of Estonia (Eesti Konservatiivne Rahvaerakond, EKRE)
EKRE took 17.8% of the vote in the March 2019 general election, more than doubling the 8.1% it took last time, and secured its place in government.
This is a party that does not hide its veneration of the Nazis or its White Power rhetoric. It openly attends an annual commemoration of the Estonian Legion, a branch of the Waffen SS.
Since 2013, its chair has been Mart Helme, a former ambassador to Russia. His son, Martin, heads the party’s MPs and is also finance minister. They gave White Power hand signals when appointed to ministerial office. (Handily, Mart’s nephew, Peeter Helme, is editor-in-chief of the country’s main conservative daily newspaper, Postimees.)
Martin Helme has said: “Our immigration policy should have one simple rule: if you’re black, go back,” and, “I want Estonia to be a white country.”
EKRE MP Jaak Madison has praised the Nazi Party’s economic policies, writing:
There is unfortunately no perfect form of government (not even democracy) but I see fascism as being an ideology that consists of many positive nuances necessary for preserving the nation-state.
The party’s youth wing, Blue Awakening, takes to the streets, organising regular intimidating torchlit marches, as well as ideological and cultural events. It has links to the Identitarian movement elsewhere in Europe and its leader, Ruuben Kaalep – also an EKRE MP – is deeply antisemitic and has been involved in Holocaust denial.
Finns Party (Perussuomalaiset – PS)
** 2019 Euro elections: Finns party vote up slightly to 13.8%, 2 MEPs
The racist far right Finns Party came second in Finland’s parliamentary elections in April 2019. It took 17.48% of vote winning 39 seats. They were beaten by the narrowest of margins by the centre left Social Democratic Party who won 17.73% of the vote and 40 seats.
PS, formerly known in English as the True Finns, is a racist far right party, with links to nazi groups.
At least one MP has been linked with fascist pan-Nordic paramilitary group the Nordic Resistance Movement. A PS councillor organised a “heterosexual pride” march and was later photographed giving a fascist salute.
During the 2015 “Refugee Crisis” street patrols organised by the paramilitary “Soldiers of Odin” were held. Their founder was a member of the Nordic Resistance Movement.
Like many European countries Finland has also seen a political polarisation to both the left and the right. Support for the centrist KESK party crashed, plummeting from 21.1%, when it won the 2015 general election, to just 13.9%. Alongside the SDP victory there were gains for other parties of the left – the Greens and the Left Alliance.
The Rassemblement National, formerly the Front National, pioneered the tactic of “de-demonisation”, an image clean-up aimed at hiding the party’s fascist roots and winning electoral respectability.
France also remains an intellectual centre for international fascism and the far right, with the ideas of the Nouvelle Droite (New Right) around Alain de Benoist especially influential.
Rassemblement National (National Rally – RN. Formerly the Front National – FN)
The RN is a fascist party, with deep fascist roots, and its greatest success has been to hide its origins and real politics behind a shiny veneer that has now seen it largely accepted as part of the political scene in France and internationally.
The Front National was founded in 1972 by Jean-Marie Le Pen, father of its current leader. He was a veteran of the Organisation de l’armée secrète (OAS) a brutal paramilitary far right organisation opposed to Algerian independence from France. The FN brought together existing fascist organisations such as Ordre Nouveau (New Order) – pictured at a conference with its White Power celtic cross symbols – Occident and the Groupe Union Défense (GUD).
Its founding political bureau included ON leader Alain Robert, Waffen SS veteran Pierre Bousquet, and François Brigneau, a former member of the Milice – the militia formed by the Vichy regime that collaborated with the Nazis in WW2.
Today, the FN largely hides its origins and the continuing links between its slick electoral operation and the small hardcore nazi street-fighting groups – but these factors are important to understanding the reality behind the slick exterior. We took an in-depth look behind the facade here.
Jean-Marie Le Pen pioneered the strategy of cleaning up the public face of fascism, distancing his party from open Nazi imagery and streetfighting, in favour of a suited “respectable” image aimed at winning electoral success – a move that bore fruit with the FN’s first electoral breakthrough in the 1980s.
The FN’s successful strategy was an example widely imitated by fascist parties across Europe.
Jean-Marie’s daughter, Marine Le Pen, carried out a second wave of “dedemonisation” when she took over in 2011, successfully steering the party’s sharp growth in support over the following years.
It is important to note that the party has discreetly maintained a street side to its operations. It staged an annual march in the centre of Paris, a show of strength drawing several thousand onto the streets – until 2016, when the parade was replaced by a more limited 2,000-strong “patriotic banquet”.
The FN also has a substantial paramilitary “security” force, the Département Protection et Sécurité (DPS), made up of several hundred uniformed heavies, many with military or mercenary backgrounds. Le Pen has also employed a second “security” outfit, ostensibly a private company called Vendome Security. But the firm is not a random one – it is headed by Marine’s old mate Axel Loustau, a former GUD member.
Under Marine Le Pen the RN / FN became Europe’s most electorally successful fascist party, with its high point so far coming in the April 2017 presidential elections when leader Le Pen took 21.3% of the first round vote and 33.9% in the second round run-off.
The party tripled the number of fascist MPs in the June 2017 general election. The FN won eight seats, including one for party leader Marine Le Pen, while Jacques Bompard, a former FN big shot who set up his own Ligue du Sud splinter group has also been returned to parliament.
After the 2017 general election, discontent surfaced among a section of the party that had expected an even stronger general election vote, with former FN vice president François Philippot quitting to set up his own splinter party, Les Patriots.
Marine Le Pen’s niece, Marion Maréchal Le Pen, a hardline figure seen as closer politically to her grandfather, FN founder Jean-Marie Le Pen, stepped away from public political activity and dropped “Le Pen” from her name. She has instead opened a college aimed at producing a theoretically educated far right cadre – and is expected to step back into France’s political scene at some point in future.
But the shake-down inside the FN – now under a new name in a move aimed at pulling other key far right and fascist figures under the party umbrella – is unlikely to stop its progress.
The RN was polling neck and neck with French president Macron’s En Marche party in the run-up to the 2019 European elections and is expected to achieve another strong vote.
The FN / RN’s rise has succeeded in normalising the presence of a fascist party in public life – as viable election candidates, in town halls and parliaments and in public debate. It has completely broken the “cordon sanitaire” previously used to exclude fascists.
Even more worryingly, the RN has normalised its presence in protest movements too. Fascists and other far rightists, conspiracy theory peddlers etc have a presence within the Gilets Jaunes (Yellow Vest) movement in some areas, despite its more leftwing complexion elsewhere. In some cities antiracist and antifascist Gilets Jaunes have thrown organised fascists off the demos.
In the European elections, both Philippot’s Les Patriots and the far right Debout La France have included some Gilets Jaunes figures among their candidates in an attempt to capitalise on the wide support for the anti-government protestors.
Les Patriots and Debout La France (France Arise) will both contest the Euro elections. Les Patriots are a fascist splinter from the RN, led by its former vice president François Philippot. Debout la France is a far right nationalist party. Its leader, Nicolas Dupont-Aignan, is its only MP. Dupont-Aignan has been heavily courted by Le Pen as a possible electoral ally, but has refused to link up with her for the European poll.
Generation Identity (Génération Identitaire, GI, Les identitaires)
France is the original home of GI, a nazi organisation of hardcore ideological fascists and activist cadres whose history is intertwined with that of the FN.
As with the FN, it draws heavily on theory produced by the French New Right. But its role has always been to provide a harder, national revolutionary core to the fascist movement, whether inside or outside the broader FN / RN.
GI has been the main proponent of the “great replacement” theory – the idea that white people are being driven out or “replaced” by non-white and/or Muslim “immigrants”. GI wants to see “reverse migration” – non-white people being removed from Europe.
An even more conspiratorial version of the theory holds that Jewish people are in some way responsible for organising this “replacement”.
At the notorious white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August 2017, where antifascist Heather Heyer was murdered, chants included, “Jews will not replace us”. And the Christchurch massacre killer Brent Tarrant chose the phrase as the title for his “manifesto”.
The French group is GI’s largest, with several hundred activists, who engage in stunts and street actions, fight training and ideological education. It also operates in the social and cultural milieu, with its own bars and social centres.
In France, following the electoral successes of the Front National, GI cadres moved into key jobs in the FN / RN controlled town halls and into FN /RN party membership, allowing them to spread their ideology far more widely and wield greater influence.
GI has extended its range across Europe, with smaller cadre groups in a number of countries, of which the most significant spin-off is in Austria.
The AfD, a far right racist populist party moving in the direction of fascism has been represented in the German parliament since 2017 – the first time a far right party had achieved this in 60 years.
Alternative for Germany (Alternative für Deutschland, AfD)
This racist populist far right party has been moving in the direction of fascism, through successive splits that have seen it come under control of the most extreme rightwing and racist elements.
While Europe’s post-war fascist parties have sought to distance themselves from the Holocaust and switched their emphasis from antisemitism to Islamophobia, the AfD is doing the opposite.
Leading members have been actively seeking to rehabilitate Hitler’s Nazi era, pushing boundaries all the time in a series of statements that are often seen as provocative, but are aimed also at normalising acceptance of the Nazi era as part of a restoration of “national pride”.
The AfD took 12.6% of the vote in Germany’s 2017 general election, entering parliament for the first time with 94 seats as the third largest party – nearly three times the 4.7% it took at the last elections in 2013.
It won seven MEPs in 2014 and now has a presence in half of Germany’s 16 powerful state governments – it is the second largest party in the eastern state of Saxony-Anhalt where it took 24.2% of the vote in the 2016 state elections.
The AfD was founded in 2013 as a Eurosceptic party. It has seen two major upheavals, each time moving rightwards.
In 2015, Frauke Petry was elected party leader, focusing its politics more explicitly on anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim racism, and making overtures to the Pegida anti-Muslim street movement (see below).
Founder and former leader Bernd Lucke and his allies quit the party, claiming it had been infiltrated by racist, nationalist, antisemitic, Islamophobic and homophobic extremists.
But Petry herself quit the party two years later in a shock resignation on the day of her own election to parliament.
The AfD’s election success came after months of the most extreme right faction – that closest to fascism – pushing the party so far to the right that it left Petry behind.
The hardline elements of the AfD, centred around new co-leader and MP Alexander Gauland and Thuringia-based Björn Höcke.
Björn Höcke, an AfD member of the state assembly in Thuringia and a poster boy for the extreme wing of the party, repeatedly expresses views close to those of the nazi NPD party. Germany should stop atoning for its Nazi past, Höcke says, claiming that the country’s history was being made “appalling and laughable”.
Speaking of Berlin’s Holocaust memorial, Höcke said:
We Germans are the only people in the world who have planted a memorial of shame in the heart of their capital. These stupid politics of coming to grips with the past cripple us – we need nothing other than a 180-degree reversal on the politics of remembrance.
It is clear what a “180-degree reversal” on the politics of remembering the six million Jews and millions of others murdered during the Holocaust means.
And Jens Maier, an AfD candidate and a judge in Saxony’s state court, was reported earlier this year expressing sympathy for the Norwegian nazi mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik. He said:
Breivik became a mass murderer out of pure desperation.
Alexander Gauland is pushing at the boundaries too. Earlier this month, he was recorded on video, saying the Hitler years “no longer affect our identity”. He added:
We have the right to take back our country and our history. If the French are rightly proud of their emperor and the Britons of Nelson and Churchill, we have the right to be proud of the achievements of the German soldiers in two world wars.
Gauland has also attacked Germany’s commissioner for migrant integration, Aydan Özoğuz, who has Turkish origins, saying she should be “disposed of” in Anatolia, using a phrase usually reserved for getting rid of rubbish.
This year, the AfD was banned from a commemoration at the site of the Nazis’ Buchenwald concentration camp. The organisers said:
The Buchenwald Memorials believes that representatives of the AfD must not take part in the ceremony on its premises while they haven’t credibly distanced themselves from their party’s anti-democratic, anti-human rights and revisionist positions.
AfD MPs also walked out of an official Holocaust commemoration event in Munich, after a Holocaust survivor criticised them in a speech.
National Democratic Party of Germany (Nationaldemokratische Partei Deutschlands, NPD)
In a shock result at the 2014 European elections, Germany elected an MEP from hardcore nazi party the NPD. The party – whose leader is happy to pose in front of images of Hitler’s deputy Rudolf Hess – took just 1% of the vote, gaining the seat because Germany does not have a minimum threshold for European seats.
Pegida and street movements
Meanwhile, Pegida (Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the West) and related movements pose a real threat on the streets.
Pegida is street movement formed in 2014 and centred on anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim racism, in which NPD and other nazis mingle with fascist football hooligan gangs and softer racists.
Between 2014 and 2015 Pegida held a number of large street protests against asylum seekers. The founders of Pegida were influenced by the rise of the English Defence League in Britain.
In 2015, when the AfD made its sharp turn to the right it built its membership and support by drawing into its ranks Pegida supporters and members of nazi type groups mingling among them.
Pegida has mobilised thousands on the streets, especially in the former East Germany, hitting a high of 25,000 in Dresden in January 2015.
It had appeared that Pegida’s support had dropped off – but as with other street movements historically, support for such activity can rise and fall.
In the summer of 2018, thousands of racists – with nazi organisations active among them – staged a series of marches in the town of Chemnitz, Saxony, ostensibly in response to the killing of a German-Cuban man in a fight, after two Kurdish men were named as suspects.
The demonstrations broke into riots and pogroms that saw racists and nazis on the rampage, chasing “foreigners” through the streets. They were encouraged by AfD politicians.
AfD MP Markus Frohnmaier responded by tweeting: “If the state can no longer protect citizens, people go out on the street and protect themselves. Today it is a civic duty to stop deadly migration!”
Paramilitary style nazi grouplets have also gained the confidence to march openly, as with hundreds of members of Der Dritte Weg (Third Way), who staged a march through the town of Plauen, Saxony, on 1 May this year.
In 2016 we warned:
The combined advance of far right parties both in the electoral arena and on the streets, with organised fascists tying to pull both wings further to the right, is very alarming.
The situation in Germany has worsened substantially since then.
In the Greek general election of 7 July 2019 Golden Dawn failed to pass the 3% minimum for representation in parliament, with just 2.93%, and lost all its previous 18 MPs after the fascist / far right vote split. Newcomers Greek Solution took 3.7% of the vote, gaining 10 MPs.
While it was very good news to see the Golden Dawn MPs wiped out, the two parties together came close to the 6.9% that Golden Dawn took in the previous general election in 2015.
Golden Dawn (Chrysí Avgí)
Golden Dawn is a nazi party. It has both an electoral and a paramilitary wing. It wants to see Greece run as a dictatorship, uses Nazi imagery and is openly ethno-nationalist and racist. Golden Dawn was founded in 1983 as an antisemitic, pro-dictatorship organisation.
The party is embroiled in a long-running trial, accused of being a criminal organisation involved in a series of murders. The trial has now been running for four years.
Golden Dawn’s brutal street fighters have recently increased their level of violence, seeking to gain support and stir up a nationalist and chauvinist revival in response to Greece’s recognition of the new name of the neighbouring state of North Macedonia in January 2019.
In parliament Golden Dawn MP Constantinos Barbarousis called on the military to arrest the leaders of the government over the Macedonia deal – in effect, calling for a military coup.
Golden Dawn first emerged as a dangerous political force as a result of the 2008 economic crisis, which left 4.7 million people unemployed. It tried to portray itself as a friend of “ordinary” Greeks by distributing food to poor communities (as long as they are ethnic Greeks).
At the same time it blames migrants for Greece’s economic problems. Golden Dawn’s Youth Front has distributed fliers in Athens schools and organised a Rock Against Communism concert series .
The party has a track record of violence and terror. A Golden Dawn member stabbed to death leftwing antifascist rapper Pavlos Fyssas in September 2013.
Support for Golden Dawn is becoming entrenched in sections of the Greek police force, giving the party’s thugs a level of protection and immunity. A report published by Amnesty International noted:
Our investigation shows that the Golden Dawn debacle is only the tip of the iceberg. Entrenched racism, excessive use of force and deep-rooted impunity are a blight on the Greek police. Successive Greek governments have so far failed to acknowledge, let alone tackle, these human rights violations by police and on-going impunity.
A huge popular backlash against the Fyssas murder forced the Greek government to act. In September 2013, party leaders and MPs were arrested and jailed en masse in the wake of the murder of Pavlos Fyssas, and prosecutors charged the party with being a criminal organisation. Ten police officers were found to have direct or indirect links with criminal activities attributed to Golden Dawn members.
But despite the legal onslaught, electoral support for the nazi party did not fall. In 2015 it won 7% of the vote in the parliamentary elections, and took 18 seats in parliament.
Greek Solution (Elliniki Lisi, EL)
Greek Solution was officially founded in 2016 by Kyriakos Velopoulos, a member of the far right Laos Party. was originally supported by an MP who had been a member of fascist Golden Dawn, but he left shortly after it was formed. Greek Solution is a pro-Russian, irredentist and ultra-nationalist party.
Independent Greeks – National Patriotic Alliance (Anexartitoi Ellines, ANEL)
ANEL is a rightwing party formed in 2012 as a breakaway from the conservative New Democracy party. It opposes multiculturalism, seeks to cut immigration and wants the education system to be centred on the Greek Orthodox church.
The party took 4.8% of the vote and gained 13 MPs in the September 2015 general election – not a large figure. But it gained influence when it was invited to form part of a coalition government with the leftwing Syriza party. ANEL walked out of the government in 2019 over the recognition of North Macedonia.
Hungary is in the unenviable position of being the only country in Europe where the two biggest parties – Fidesz and Jobbik – belong in the far right spectrum.
** 2019 Euro elections: Jobbik’s vote has fallen, but Fidesz has gained seats
Fidesz (Fidesz – Magyar Polgári Szövetség, Hungarian Civic Alliance).
Fidesz began life in the 1990s as a liberal anti-communist party. Under Viktor Orbán’s leadership it has become a vile authoritarian far right, racist populist party.
Orbán used the “refugee crisis” to ratchet up anti-immigration sentiments. The Fidesz manifesto equates migrants with terrorists and claims immigrants are taking Hungarians’ jobs. It set up internment camps for “illegal” immigrants and has built a wall to block migrants entering Hungary.
Fidesz has persecuted Hungary’s Roma population, encouraging segregated schools and turned a blind eye to authorities building walls around Roma communities.
In a measure aimed mainly at the Roma minority, it has passed a law allowing government officers the right to inspect people’s homes for “cleanliness” in order for them to receive unemployment payments.
Fidesz also celebrates Hungary’s fascist and authoritarian past. Fidesz officials have attended ceremonies celebrating Miklós Horthy and have financed the erection of Horthy statues. Horthy was the leader of Hungary between 1920 and 1944 and played a part in the deaths of tens of thousands of Hungarian Jews during the Holocaust.
Orbán is also using antisemitism, with a key target the Hungarian-American billionaire and philanthropist George Soros. Fidesz uses antisemitic tropes that portray Soros – who is well known to be Jewish – as a financier trying to control Hungary’s economy in the interests of global capitalism and as a promoter of mass migration into Europe.
Fidesz is an anti-democratic and authoritarian party that has almost total control of the press and has gerrymandered the electoral system and constitution.
The Fidesz-led coalition has 133 seats – a supermajority, allowing it to pass any legislation by itself. It also has 12 MEPs.
Its style of government has been a model for other far right parties around Europe, notably in Poland.
In order to undermine the rise of the fascist Jobbik party, Fidesz has moved further and further to the right. Jobbik on the other hand has attempted to move present itself as a more moderate party in order to undercut Fidesz. The upcoming European elections will be an important test for both parties.
Jobbik (Jobbik Magyarországért Mozgalom, Movement for a Better Hungary)
Jobbik was formed in 2003 by a small group of nationalistic and religious university students. Until mass protests against Hungary’s Socialist Party government in 2006 it was a tiny, insignificant movement.
Following the upheavals Jobbik built a grassroots electoral movement and a paramilitary group, the Magyar Gárda (Hungarian Guard).
These black shirted thugs carried out violent mass parades aimed at intimidating Roma communities and oppositionists. The Guard also targets Jews, most famously in 2013 when the Guard and Jobbik held a protest against the World Jewish Congress in Budapest. They claimed the protest was against “a Jewish attempt to buy up Hungary”.
There are three main themes to Jobbik’s politics:
1. The “Third Way” – patriotic nationalism combined with an eco-social national economy.
2. Anti-Roma racism and anti-Semitism.
3. Opposition to crime – which it racialises, blaming Roma and other minorities for the increase in crime. Jobbik reintroduced the term “gypsy crime” into the political discourse.
Jobbik’s electoral breakthrough came in the 2009 European parliamentary elections, when it gained 427,773 votes (14.7%) and three MEPs. Today it has 26 MPs and three MEP’s and is now the country’s second largest party.
It is one of Europe’s largest fascist parties, a beacon of influence for the far right across Central and Eastern Europe. It also has small groups in the UK and US.
Jobbik’s popularity has enabled Fidesz to adopt ever more aggressively right wing and racist policies.
Since 2014 Jobbik claims it rejects it radical nationalist past and claims it is now a “conservative people’s party”. This declaration is mainly cosmetic, designed to increase its share of the vote.
However even these cosmetic changes have been too much for some members of the party who have either left to set up a new party or joined paramilitary groups.
In recent months there have been reports of paramilitaries patrolling the streets intimidating drug addicts, homeless people and refugees.
Mi Hazánk Mozgalom (Our Country Movement, MHM)
Antiracists also need to keep an eye on a new fascist formation the MHM, founded by László Toroczkai.
Toroczkaia is a former Jobbik vice chair and MP and was also the leader of the violent paramilitary group the Sixty-Four Counties Youth Movement. He launched the MHM with two other former Jobbik MPs.
At the press launch of the new party, he called for a “White Hungary” and “the Tricolor instead of a muddied rainbow. When asked about the Holocaust Toroczkai said, “It’s bloody monotonous listening to how everyone is guilty except the Jews.”
Toroczkai is also the mayor of Ásotthalom. There he has set up an armed privatised paramilitary group that hunts migrants. Also he has launched a poster campaign that argues Islam and LGBT+ rights pose a threat to the Hungarian way of life.
Matteo Salvini’s Lega party – which has been moving towards fascism over the past few years – is now in a coalition government and its popularity is soaring.
Lega (formerly Lega Nord – Northern League)
When we looked at Italy in 2016, we warned that the country was “seeing a revival of fascism amid a major shake-up on the far right”. The situation of the far right has been transformed since then, and the future looks worse.
The party then known as Lega Nord, originally a racist far-right party set up on a platform of separatism for Italy’s northern regions, has become a national organisation under leader Matteo Salvini.
The Lega won just 4.1% of the vote in 2013, but in the March 2018 general election it joined a rightwing coalition with corrupt billionaire tycoon Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia (FI) and the outright fascist Fratelli d’Italia (FdI), which took a total of 37% of the vote.
But within the rightwing bloc, the Lega was the largest single element, pulling in 17.4% of the vote. That put Salvini in a strong enough position to form a coalition government with the populist Five Star Movement (M5S), which had come first in the election on 32.6%. He is now in a position of power as deputy prime minister and interior minister.
Salvini has used his position to pose as the hard man of Europe, making sustained attacks especially on migrants seeking to enter Europe via the Mediterranean. He is seen a central figure among Europe’s various fascist and far right parties as they seek to organise together.
And polling ahead of the 2019 European elections shows that after just over a year in office, the Lega’s popularity has surged again in Italy, dramatically overtaking M5S, with around 30% of the projected vote.
*UPDATE* 2019 Euro election results: Matteo Salvini’s Lega has seen its vote rocket, multiplying more than five times over – from 6.2% to 34.33% – giving the party a dangerous boost. The fascist FdI, descendents of Mussolini’s party, also saw its vote go up from 3.66% to 6.46%. **
Salvini began to break the Lega out of its northern heartlands when he became leader in 2013, playing up anti-immigrant and anti-Roma racism in place of regionalism.
In 2015 he staged a joint demonstration with longstanding fascist organisations in Rome. Around 25,000 marchers came together under the banners of the Lega, the openly fascist activist group CasaPound (see below) and a third group, Fratelli di Italia-Alleanza Nazionale (the Brothers of Italy-National Alliance, FdI-NA), whose roots lie in the Movimento Sociale Italiano (MSI), the fascist organisation formed in 1946 by Mussolini’s supporters.
A brief formal tie-up between the Lega and CasaPound did not last, but the activist, streetfighting organisation has grown substantially amid the general swing to the far right.
As the Lega built in the south, away from its traditional northern heartlands, it took in members of older fascist organisations such as the Alleanza Nazionale (another descendent of the MSI) and Destra Sociale.
Fascism was never thoroughly wiped out in Italy after World War Two and it has had a stronger continuing presence than anywhere else in Europe – and a history of participation in and links with the state. Italian fascism, alongside French fascism, also plays an important role in developing fascist ideology that groups across Europe draw on.
And Salvini is keen to echo and rehabilitate the fascist era under Benito Mussolini whenever he sees a chance. In July 2018, on the anniversary of Mussolini’s birth, Salvini tweeted: “Many enemies, much honour”. The Italian words, “Tanti nemici, tanto onore” were designed to echo Mussolini’s phrase “Molti nemici, molto onore”.
In the run-up to this year’s European elections, Salvini chose to rally his supporters in the town of Forli from the balcony where Mussolini used to watch the execution of his opponents.
Brothers of Italy (Fratelli d’Italia, FdI)
This is a descendant of the old fascist MSI and uses the traditional fascist three-coloured flame symbol. It won 4.3% of the vote in the 2018 general election. It is a much smaller player in the electoral field than the Lega, but in February 2019 its candidate Marco Marsilio won 48% of the vote in the Abruzzo regional election, becoming the region’s president.
CasaPound Italia (CPI)
CasaPound – named after the American poet and dedicated fascist Ezra Pound – is quite open about its fascist ideology. Its leader Simone di Stefano has explained that Mussolini’s reign is “our point of reference, a vision of the state and the economy and the concept of sacrifice”.
The organisation projects itself as a social activist organisation, using methods more often associated with the left, such as squatting.
But leftwingers and trade unionists – along with migrants, Roma people and other ethnic minorities – have been physically attacked by the fascist gangs. CasaPound’s membership is growing and it now feels confident to establish anti-migrant “patrols” on the streets in some areas.
Its flag is a Third Reich homage, with a circular motif of black and white arrows on a red field, although the student wing prefers a huge SS-style lightning bolt.
Forza Nuova (New Force, FN)
Forza Nuova is another openly fascist party, founded by Roberto Fiore – who was convicted in 1985 for links to NAR, a fascist group blamed for the 1980 Bologna train station bombing that killed 85 people.
Its membership is estimated to have increased from 1,500 in 2001 to around ten times that number today. The FN’s streetfighters are behind many of recent fascist attacks.
In 2016, we wrote:
The danger in Italy, the original home of fascism where a continuing thread back to the days of Mussolini remains unbroken, lies in the potential to develop the classically fascist combination of electoral and streetfighting organisation.
Today, fascist activity in Italy is increasing dramatically in strength both in the electoral field and on the streets. The danger has grown immeasurably.
There are two important far right parties in the Netherlands – the Forum for Democracy (Forum voor Democratie – FvD) and Geert Wilder’s Party for Freedom (PVV – Partij voor de Vrijheid)
The FvD is one of the new far right kids on the block. Formed in 2016, it is led by Thierry Baudet, it first stood in the 2017 general election, winning two seats. However it made a significant electoral breakthrough in the 2019 provincial elections, coming first winning 86 seats.
The FvD are an aggressive racist far right populist formation.
One of Baudet’s key political messages of the last two years is the near-total decline of what he calls the “boreal world” — a term used to describe “white European culture”. It is a term used as an alternative by the extreme as a replacement for the term “Aryan”. The term was popularised by the French far right and recognised as a dog whistle to white supremacists
Baudet has also led an antisemitic campaign against the Jewish financier and philanthropist George Soros calling for a public investigation into his political influence in Dutch life. Baudet echoes the anti-Semitic tropes used by Hungarian president Orbán (whom he frequently praises).
Baudet is also a climate change denier. It is worth noting that Baudet polls very strongly among the young and students. He also stages open forums on rightwing philosophy.
The PVV is a far right racist populist party whose leader, Geert Wilders, “>is a poster boy for the European Islamophobic far right. The PVV’s political programme can be boiled down into four elements: anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant racism, opposition to the EU, and rightwing social policies.
It has 20 MPs and four MEPs and is currently the countries second largest party.
Wilders demonstrates all the features of an authoritarian leader – he is the only formal member of the PVV and is accountable to nobody in his party other than himself.
The PVV was central to forming the Europe of Nations and Freedom (ENF) grouping in the outgoing European Parliament, alongside Marine Le Pen’s Front National (now Rassemblement National) – an association with fascist parties that marked a clear step to the right for the PVV, which had previously steered clear of such links.
Like many European states the Netherlands is witnessing the splintering of the party landscape and the weakening of the main parties. The country now has 13 parties represented in its parliament.
The Progress Party (Fremskrittspartiet / Framstegspartiet, FrP)
Norway, like other Scandinavian countries, is seeing the rise of the far right. The key player is the FrP. In the 2017 general election it came third winning 27 seats and is in an influential position as part of a government coalition with the Conservative Party.
The FrP calls for a ban on burqas in public spaces and argues that elements of Islam are incompatible with Norwegian society. Since 2016 it has come out against the EU.
Launched in the early 1970s the FrP started out life as an anti-high tax party, however since the 1980s it has moved in a more rightist direction targeting migrants.
Poland has a far right party in government, also fascist organisations are able to pull large numbers behind them on the streets.
Law and Justice party (Prawo i Sprawiedliwość, PiS)
The October 2015 general election in Poland saw a lurch to the right as the far right, nationalist and anti-immigration PiS swept to power, taking 235 of the 460 seats in parliament.
The PiS is seeking to model itself on Hungary’s authoritarian Fidesz. New laws to control the public media and judiciary have been rammed through. The party is also promoting vicious homophobia.
The government has attempted – unsuccessfully – to completely ban abortion, although abortion rights in Poland are already severely limited.
President Andrzej Duda was the PiS candidate before formally resigning his membership on taking up office. He has made concessions to the fascist organisations to his right, joining last year’s fascist-led independence day march in Warsaw (see below).
National Movement (Ruch Narodowy, RN)
National Radical Camp (Obóz Narodowo-Radykalny, ONR)
All-Polish Youth (Młodzież Wszechpolska, MW)
Poland’s hardcore fascist parties – the ONR and MW – have traditionally been paramilitary and streetfighting organisations. But they launched an electoral alliance, the National Movement (Ruch Narodowy, RN) in 2012.
RN remains keen to show its strength on the streets. It organises and leads the huge Independence Day demonstrations in Warsaw, which we have witnessed.
On this year’s demo 200,000 joined their march – we reported on the march here.
Polish president Duda spoke at the demonstration. The idea that a leading government figure would address a protest led by fascists is unprecedented.
Poland’s fascist groups also include smaller paramilitary organisations, such as the NOP (National Revival of Poland, Narodowe Odrodzenie Polski).
RN did not stand under its own name in the 2015 general election. Instead five leading RN members, including leader Robert Winnicki, and five more candidates officially supported by RN were elected as MPs, sneaking in under the banner of Kukiz’15 – a populist outfit set up by former rock star Pavel Kukiz – which has a total of 42 MPs.
The RN-backed candidates had to sign a separate “National Contract” setting out political aims including “preserving the cultural and ethnic cohesion of the Nation”, rejecting “property claims of Jews on the Polish state” and supporting “militarisation of the Nation” by “universal access to weapons”.
For the 2019 European Parliament elections, RN has joined up with the Congress of the New Right (KNP), led by Janusz Korwin-Mikke – the joint alliance is called Konfederacja KORWiN Braun Liroy Narodowcy. Korwin’s original KNP party gained four MEPs in 2014.
Korwin-Mikke opposes votes for women, who he says are less interested in politics than men. He also claims that Hitler might not have known about the Holocaust, and quotes Holocaust denier David Irving on his personal website. Korwin-Mikke says:
Show me even one sentence of Hitler, that will attest to the fact that he knew about the extermination of the Jews. You will not find [it].
Poland also has a very large volunteer paramilitary militia movement – estimated to involve up to 100,000 mainly young people – which carries out regular arms training exercises. The PiS government has sought to give these volunteer units support, but wants to bring them under control of the defence ministry.
Compared with most countries in central Europe, the far right is relatively weak in Romania.
The New Right (Noua Dreaptă) is an openly fascist group. It focuses on marches and street confrontations but has no electoral support.
SlovakiaThe Slovakian parliamentary elections in March 2016 saw nazis and far right ultra-nationalist and racist parties take a fifth of the seats in Slovakian parliament.
** 2019 Euro elections: the L’SNS vote has rocketed more than ten points to 12.1%. The SNS took 4.1%
Kotleba – People’s Party Our Slovakia (Kotleba Ľudová Strana – Naše Slovenská, ĽSNS)
The L’SNS was set up by Marian Kotleba in 2010 after its predecessor, the Slovak Togetherness-National Party was banned by the state in 2006 for its violent and racist activities.
The party declares that it builds on the legacy of the leader of the Slovak Nazi state (1939 – 1945) Jozef Tiso.
Kotleba has built his party using with anti-Roma, anti-immigration and anti-corruption rhetoric. Party speakers have described the Roma as a social “parasites” and “extremists” that “steal, rape and murder”.
The L’SNS won 8% of the vote gaining the 14 MPs in Slovakia’s 150-seat national assembly. It also has ties with the Slovak Brotherhood, a paramilitary group that has attacked Roma communities and has links with many of Europe’s most virulent Nazi groups.
Slovak National Party (Slovakia: Slovenská národná strana, SNS)
“The best policy for dealing with the Roma is “a long whip in a small yard” –– Jan Slota, ex-leader of the Slovak National Party
The SNS describes itself as a national socialist party that defends Christian values. The SNS stirs up hatred towards Roma and ethnic Hungarians.
Just like the L’SNS it attempts to rehabilitate the Nazi war time leader of Czechoslovakia Jozef Tiso.
In the recent parliamentary elections, the SNS gained 8.6% of the vote winning 15 MPs. This extreme nationalist party has strong connections with fascism.
The far right VOX party came from nowhere in the April 2019 general election to take 10.3% of the vote, gaining 24 MPs. This is the first time an openly far right party has taken more than one seat in parliament since the days of dictator Francisco Franco.
VOX was formed at the end of 2013 as a splinter from the conservative Partido Popular. But while there has always been a Francoist contingent inside the mainstream conservative party, the emergence of VOX with its openly far right platform of ultra-nationalism, racism, sexism and homophobia marks a new departure in the Spanish state.
Party leader Santiago Abascal greeted the election results with glee, saying:
We started a reconquest and this is what we have done. Vox now has a voice in parliament. Welcome to the resistance.
Abascal’s statement deliberately includes the word “reconquista”, a deliberate reference to the 15th century “reconquest” of the Iberian peninsular by Christian forces, culminating in the expulsion of Muslims and Jews.
The VOX leader also cites antisemitic conspiracy theories centred on the figure of George Soros, the Hungarian-American billionaire philanthropist, who is Jewish, writing:
There is Soros redoubling his efforts to favour the Islamisation of Europe and the chaos in the continent.
VOX also has outright nazis and fascists inside it. Election candidate Fernando Paz had to resign after the media publicised his questioning of the murder of six million Jews. Paz called the post-war Nuremberg trials of Nazis a “farce”.
Another election candidate, Jorge Bonito, has previously been a member of the Aryan Brotherhood, a nazi organisation.
Sweden Democrats (Sverigedemokraterna, SD)
The fascist Sweden Democrats party saw substantial gains in the September 2018 general election, taking 17.6% of the vote – up from 12.86% at the previous election – and winning 62 MPs.
A Scandinavian far right block is also developing with the Sweden Democrats’ gains mirroring those of Norway’s racist Progress Party, the Danish People’s Party and the Finns party of Finland.
The Sweden Democrats party was formed as a white supremacist organisation in 1988, growing out of the racist Keep Sweden Swedish (Bevara Sverige Svenskt) network – it still uses this slogan. The party’s first leader, Anders Klarström was previously involved in the openly nazi Nordic Reich Party – he remained in charge until 1995.
Party auditor Gustaf Ekström was a veteran of Hitler’s Waffen-SS and in the 1940s was a member of Sweden’s own mirror to the German Nazi party, the Svensk Socialistisk Samling (formerly the Nationalsocialistiska Arbetarpartiet – the National Socialist Workers Party). The picture above shows this party campaigning in the 1936 election – note the swastikas.
In the mid-1990s the Sweden Democrats – like other European fascist parties – switched towards the modernisation strategy pioneered by Jean-Marie Le Pen’s Front National in France, cleaning up its image in a bid to win electoral respectability. Its new leader, Mikael Jansson imposed a ban on paramilitary or nazi-style uniforms and the party attempted to sweep its violent street thug supporters neatly out of sight.
In 2005, the party acquired its current leader Jimmie Åkesson who continued the modernisation and clean-up. The party replaced its old logo – a version of the British National Front’s flaming torch symbol decked out in Swedish colours – with a pretty little blue and yellow flower.
But in 2013, two of the 2010 cohort of Sweden Democrat MPs – Erik Almqvist and Kent Ekeroth – were caught on video, tooled up with iron bars and hurling racist abuse at comedian Soran Ismail and another man.
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 a conference in Malmö. Ekeroth turned up in London to speak in support of “Tommy Robinson”, the EDL’s former leader and international fascist posterboy, in July.
Immigrants and Muslims are not the only targets, however. In June 2018, Bjorn Soder, a Sweden Democrat MP and deputy speaker of the Swedish parliament declared on Facebook that Jews and members of the Sami indigenous minority were “not Swedes”.
And despite the party’s attempts to hide its deeply nazi past and present itself as a modern, electable party – following the clean-up strategy first pioneered by the Front National in France – repeated purges have still not removed all the sieg-heiling boot boys.
In the run-up to the 2019 election, the Expressen newspaper reported that a slew of former members of the violent nazi National Socialist Front were included among the Sweden Democrats candidates.
Swiss People’s Party (German: Schweizerische Volkspartei, SVP; Romansh, French: Union démocratique du centre, UDC)
The SPP is a far right populist party. In the parliamentary elections of 2015 it topped the polls with 29.4 % of the vote winning 65 seats. It is an Islamophobic, anti-migrant and anti-EU party.
It has used referendums to pursue its agenda. In 2009 it led the referendum campaign to stop the building of minarets on mosques, winning 57.5% of the vote. In 2010 it won the referendum campaign “for the expulsion of criminal foreigners” (52.3%) and in 2014 it campaigned against “mass immigration” (50.3%).
There is an active fascist grouping inside the SVP and a “New Right” study group that promotes Holocaust denial and has connections with neo-Nazi groups in Europe.
Switzerland is not in the EU, but its general election is due to take place in October 2019.
As we write (May 2019) the leader of the Conservative party, Theresa May has resigned – it is unclear whether this will lead to a general election.
UKIP (under Gerard Batten)
Brexit Party (Nigel Farage)
Tommy Robinson movement
Smaller groups, including FLA / DFLA, For Britain, Generation Identity
We have seen the rebirth of the far right in Britain, with a new far right street movement centred on “Tommy Robinson” emerging last year, after a number of significant developments in recent years.
Following the collapse of the British National Party, the country’s most successful fascist electoral party, and the later implosiion of the EDL – both descending into internal faction fights and breaking up after after sustained campaigning by antifascists – we saw the rise of the racist populist UKIP.
In the 2014 European elections UKIP topped the poll winning 24 seats, with 32% of the vote. UKIP and its then leader Nigel Farage went onto play an important role in securing the Brexit vote in 2016. Shortly after the Brexit vote Farage stood down as leader of UKIP claiming that his “political goal had been achieved”.
After going through four rancorous leadership contests in 18 months, Gerard Batten became UKIP’s leader in 2018.
But following its election victory and the Brexit vote, UKIP’s fortunes went into sharp decline – its opinion poll ratings fell to just 1% and a number of its MEPs resigned from the party. Farage quit UKIP in 2018 claiming the party was now “unrecognisable because of the ‘fixation’ with the anti-Muslim policies of its leader, Gerard Batten”.
On the other side of the spectrum, the increasing popularity of Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party – now with more than 500,000 members – also provided an alternative pole of attraction for those discontented with the centrist political mainstream.
The new far right
The rebirth of the far right in Britain has come largely through a developing street movement, made up of several constituent parts. We have produced a series of reports and analysis tracing these developments.
In June 2017 former EDL leader and longtime fascist “Tommy Robinson” – real name Stephen Yaxley-Lennon – led a march of several thousand far right supporters in Manchester.
Two weeks later a 5,000-strong alliance of football hooligan firms called the Football Lads Alliance (FLA) marched through central London. The key mobilising issues for these movements was Islamophobia and recent terrorist attacks.
After a number of regional protests the FLA split and a new rival group the Democratic Football Lads Alliance was formed. The two factions held competing protests in Birmingham in March 2018. The DFLA protest was significantly larger and it became the de facto leadership of the rightwing football movement.
While Tommy Robinson gave tacit support to these far right football movements, he also attempted to regroup Britain’s far right and fascist groups under his own leadership.
His march and rally in central London in May 2018 brought onto the streets a full spectrum of the far right – from international far right leaders to Batten’s UKIP, “alt-right” figures and hardcore fascists such as Generation Identity.
Over the next two months Robinson put even greater numbers on the streets.
At the same time UKIP, under Gerard Batten, looked to capitalise on the new movement by tying up with the street movement in the style of Germany’s AfD. This marked a break from Farage’s strategy – Farage had been keen to distance the party from known fascists and streetfighters.
The far right in Britain have also sought to exploit chaos around Brexit and the Conservative government’s failure to negotiate a deal.
2019 European elections
The Brexit Party
This new party was formed in January 2019 under the leadership of Nigel Farage. He has modeled it on the old version of UKIP (see this analysis of UKIP’s rise under Farage) and it is a far right populist party. It is an anti-EU party which plays on anti-immigration fears.
Within six months the Brexit Party has claimed 100,000 members, mostly ex-members of UKIP or the Tories. But, disgracefully, George Galloway, the former Labour and Respect MP, declared his support and said he will vote for it, as have a small number of “libertarian socialists”.
Batten’s and UKIP’s lurch to the far right and flirtation with violent street movements has had a contradictory impact on the party. It has been hard hit by the resignation in protest of many of its MEPs, and clearly Farage’s Brexit Party is winning the electoral popularity contest. But under Batten UKIP’s membership has grown and it has recently seen a modest increase in its poll ratings.
Robinson announced he would stand as an independent candidate in the north west of England. Whatever the outcome of this first-time electoral attempt, his campaign has generated more attention and funding that could increase support for his online and street-based activities.
For Britain Movement
For Britain is led by former UKIP leadership candidate Ann Marie Waters. It lent its support to Robinson in the European elections. But it stood under its own banner in the 2019 local elections and won its first two council seats – one of which was taken by former BNP councillor Julian Leppert. For Britain is tiny at present but is notable as the new home for a number of former BNP members, such as leading strategist Eddy Butler, who is now embedded in its leadership.
Ukraine is set for a snap parliamentary election in July 2019.
Right Sector (Pravy Sektor)
Azov / National Militia / National Corps
Election results do not begin to explain the huge strength of fascist organisations in Ukraine or their deep implantation in the state.
In the 2016 presidential elections, voters largely rejected the fascists, with Ruslan Koshulynskyi took just 1.6% of the vote as the joint candidate of an alliance of fascist groups, including Svoboda, C14, Right Sector, OUN and the Congress of Ukrainian Nationalists groups.
The last Ukraine general election in October 2014 returned just six MPs from the fascist Svoboda party, with another one from the Pravy Sektor (Right Sector), an alliance of nazi paramilitary groups.
But fascist batallions are now part of Ukraine’s armed forces, individual fascists are in positions of power and large paramilitary groups are abl;e to mobilise on the streets with impunity – and sometimes with official support.
It was in the “Euromaidan” protests against former president Yanukovych that the fascists made their real breakthrough in November 2013.
The vast majority of the “Euromaidan” protestors were not fascists. But Svoboda – a somewhat modernised fascist organisation originally called the Social-Nationalist Party – and the paramilitary nazi groups including the UNA-UNSO that came together as Right Sector, had a very noticeable presence and quickly won a leadership role as the protests became more militant.
These forces were able to take the initiative, setting up a paramilitary defence force, storming government buildings and police stations as Yanukovych faltered and his fellow-Oligarch backers withdrew their support.
The pro-Russian separatist groups that emerged as Ukraine slid into civil war also included fascists – from groups built on Russian nationalism, virulent antisemitism and homophobia.
When elections were held in Kiev-controlled Ukraine in October 2014, voters turned away from the fascists – leaving just seven MPs from Svoboda and Right Sector together.
But the fluid nature of Ukraine’s shell parties means individual fascists have moved, sometimes via more “mainstream” parties, into positions of power.
An example of this is Andriy Parubiy, one of the original leaders of the nazi Social-National Party of Ukraine, who led the Samooborona (“Self-Defence”) militia in the Maidan and later became head of Ukraine’s national security council. He is now chair of the Ukrainian parliament.
MP Dmytro Yarosh, the former Right Sector leader, is the commander of the Ukrainian Volunteer Army (UVA), which plays a prominent part in teh country’s eastern conflict.
Other politicians such as Radical Party leader Oleh Lyashko also have links with fascist organisations.
After the Maidan protests, the fascist-dominated Samooborona forces were introduced as battalions into the Ukrainian armed forces now involved in the war in the east of the country.
They include the notorious Azov battalion, with its open displays of nazi insignia. They are formally under the control of the state but to an extent retain their own political cohesion and organisation.
The Azov “movement” has now developed its own spin-off organisations, the National Corps party and the paramilitary National Militia, which stages large demonstrations on the streets and last year stormed a council meeting in one town, forcing councillors to pass a new budget.
Another prominent paramilitary group is C14 (“Sich”) named after the “14 words” slogan used by white power organisations internationally.
Last year, C14 members marked Hitler’s birthday in April by burning down a Roma camp in Kiev. But Kiev’s local authorities have also signed a deal to let C14 establish a “municipal guard” to opatrol the streets – similar fascist patrols operate in a number of other towns.
Ukraine’s fascist problem is not confined to the areas under contriol of the Kiev government. It would be a serious error to overlook the presence and role of fascists in the Russia-aligned separatist movements in the east of the country. The two sides in this conflict have been sponsored by the rival imperialisms of the US (with its EU junior partner) and Russia. Both sides have fascists on the ground.
Ukrainian fascism’s recent experience of gaining leadership roles and respect in conflict with the state, of entry into government and of creating full military structures tied into state forces is unprecedented in post-WWII Europe.
It offers a grim warning for the rest of Europe of the potential for fascist organisations to offer the ruling class a cohesive force that can intervene in situations of economic or political crisis.