Get Red Pepper's email newsletter. Enter your email address to receive our latest articles, updates and news.

×

Far right prospects in the European elections

Graeme Atkinson on the far right parties and candidates standing in the upcoming European Parliament elections

May 27, 2009
8 min read

Member states employ a variety of voting systems so making predictions of the outcome is difficult, particularly as the electorate has become more volatile in some countries as a result of internal political factors.

The UK is a prime example. The continuing scandal over MPs’ expenses has turned many voters away from the three main parties, especially Labour, leaving the way open for other parties to benefit. At the time of writing the UK Independence Party looks to be the main beneficiary, but the British National Party still believes its chances of securing seats have never been greater.

Across Europe, far right fringe parties are very much in evidence, contesting the ballot in 23 countries, the exceptions being Cyprus, Estonia, Ireland and Luxembourg. Even Malta has the long-time nazi Norman Lowell standing under the flag of his grandly-named Imperium Europa party, in the forlorn hope of winning one of the island’s five seats.

If Lowell represented the spearhead of the far right’s intervention in the elections, there would be little to worry about. But the attempt by the far right to take up more room on the European bandwagon is taking place against a backdrop of increasingly difficult economic and social circumstances resulting from the world recession and, looming on the horizon, the spectre of massive population movements within and from outside Europe resulting from climate change.

It is hard to measure the likely impact of the right wing extremists and populists because these parties function with varying degrees of professionalism and competence. There are 57 MEPs in the outgoing parliament whose politics put them to the right of the conservative mainstream. This is more than double the 24 far right MEPs in the 1999-2004 parliament.

The more competent racist and right wing populist parties that hold seats in the outgoing parliament are the National Front (FN) in France, Flemish Interest (VB) in Belgium, the National Alliance (AN) and Northern League (LN) in Italy, the Freedom Party in Austria and the Danish People’s Party (DFP).

‘Post fascist’ rebranding

Of these the biggest single group is the AN, with nine MEPs. They are joined from Italy by two from the far-right separatist LN, the convicted fascist terrorist Roberto Fiore representing Social Alternative (AS), the fascist veteran Pino Rauti and a lone MEP from the fascist Tricolour Flame. The AN continues to rebrand itself as conservative and ‘post fascist’ but its roots lie deep in Mussolini fascism.

As for the rest, the FN had seven MEPs, now has four and looks like losing at least one more. The VB has three MEPs and is likely to lose at least one, the Freedom Party has one MEP and hopes to gain another, while the DFP also has one MEP and could make gains.

All these parties will field full lists of candidates but the FN is beset by internal financial and political crises, while the VB has seen sections of its electoral support and membership ebb away to the Dedecker List, the new kid on the Belgian populist block.

It was noteworthy that in the previous parliament even the most serious attempt to weld together the disparate right wing extremist and populist parties, under the banner of the Identity Tradition and Sovereignty (ITS) group, failed at its first test.

It blew apart when one of its members, Alessandra Mussolini, expressed her view that Romanian migrants were criminals, a move that did not endear her to her colleagues from the Greater Romania party, who promptly walked out, leaving the ITS to crumble and lose official recognition when its numbers fell below what was needed to form a group.

Away from the more professional parties, the picture of far right participation in the election is varied. In Germany, the two main far right competitors, the Republicans and the Germany People’s Union, will compete with each other for the fascist vote and guarantee that the far right will again fail to send an MEP to Brussels.

In Austria too there are two far-right parties standing, the Freedom Party and the late Jorg Haider’s breakaway Alliance for the Future of Austria, which, polls suggest might also grab a seat.

In the Netherlands, the only recognisably far right party on the ballot paper is Geert Wilders’s populist and fanatically Islamophobic Freedom Party (PVV), which might well provide the country’s first far right MEP. Interestingly, Wilders seems to want any MEPs elected for his party to plough a lone furrow and retain their independence from other far right formations. This may be attributable to the fact that Wilders is strongly pro-Israel and knows only too well that other far right parties are either overtly or latently anti-semitic.

In northern Europe, the DFP finds a little echo in Sweden where both the Sweden Democrats and its even more extreme offspring, the National Democrats, are fielding candidates. Neither holds any seats, a situation unlikely to change in this election. In Finland, the far right is represented by the bizarre anti-immigrant, anti-EU Real Finns party, which could sneak a seat under the country’s proportional representation system.

On the Iberian peninsula, the anti-immigrant Partido Popular in Portugal has two MEPs and may retain them, but the fascist National Renewal Party, which is also standing, will not be sending any MEPs to join them. In neighbouring Spain, a ragbag of five fascist parties will stand for the 50 available seats in the hope of winning one. Their prospects are not very bright. In the 2004 elections, the four fascist outfits that stood were lucky to take just over one per cent of the vote between them.

In Greece, voters will find Europe’s arguably most openly and violently nazi party, Golden Dawn, sharing the ballot paper with the other ultra-right outfit LAOS which has one MEP, Georgios Georgiou, who has a chance of re-election.

Eastern Europe

In eastern Europe too the prospects for the far right look mixed. The outgoing parliament has 16 far right MEPs, ten of them from the homophobic and racist League of Polish Families (LPF). It is difficult to forecast the performance of the far right this time because the political configuration has changed with the formation of a new party, Libertas, led by the bitterly anti-EU Irish millionaire Declan Ganley, which is swallowing up huge chunks of the far right including the LPF and even a motley crew of nazi skinheads.

Three parties will fight the election in Latvia – the ultra right Osipova Party, which is linked to Russian nazis, the nationalist All for Latvia and the right wing national conservative LNNK. LNNK had four MEPs in the outgoing parliament but is unlikely to have so many this time round and the Lithuanian Centre Party is fielding candidates in Lithuania.

Zmago Jelincic’s Slovene Nation Party (SNS) will fight for all Slovenia’s seven seats, on its strongly anti-migrant, pro-Serbia policies. The far right will also try to make an impact in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, though it is unclear to what effect.

In Slovakia, the extremist Slovak National Party, which wants the rehabilitation of Hitler’s bloodstained wartime puppet Josef Tiso, will campaign for re-election on its anti-Hungarian, anti-Roma and anti-Jewish policies. In the Czech Republic three racist and fascist parties, including the National Party led by the BNP’s friend Petra Edelmannov, are standing without entertaining much hope of election. Their ideas are reciprocated in the fascist Jobbik party in Hungary, which is also assiduously building up its own anti-democratic private army, the Hungarian Guard.

In the two newest member states, the parties that have registered to carry the torch for racism and fascism might be termed ‘the usual suspects’- the anti-Turkish, anti-Semitic Attack in Bulgaria and the racist, anti-Semitic and xenophobic Greater Romania party in Romania.

The number of far-right MEPs looks set to rise in the new parliament but whether they will succeed in forming any official groups are impossible to tell. At its biggest, the ITS was unable to command the support of even half the elected ultra-nationalists, right wing populists, racists and fascists in the parliament.

The biggest problem the nationalist right has is that it is not internationally minded and many of its protagonists would like nothing better than to slit each other’s throats. All of them might share the same xenophobic, homophobic, racist, anti-Semitic, anti-immigrant, anti-Turkish, anti-trade union, anti-EU and Islamophobic mindset and have the policies to match but they stand, largely for nothing other than idiotic ideas about racial superiority and autarchy.

The tragedy is that a few million people will be deluded into wasting their votes on them, letting them get their snouts into the EU financial trough and so make Europe a less pleasant and humane place to live.

Links:

www.searchlightmagazine.com

www.stopthebnp.com

http://action.hopenothate.org.uk/content/home/suit

The compiled researched countries’ data can be found on the UNITED website under \’projects\’

Graeme Atkinson is the European editor Searchlight

Red Pepper is an independent, non-profit magazine that puts left politics and culture at the heart of its stories. We think publications should embrace the values of a movement that is unafraid to take a stand, radical yet not dogmatic, and focus on amplifying the voices of the people and activists that make up our movement. If you think so too, please support Red Pepper in continuing our work by becoming a subscriber today.
Why not try our new pay as you feel subscription? You decide how much to pay.

Contribute to Conter – the new cross-party platform linking Scottish socialists
Jonathan Rimmer, editor of Conter, says it’s time for a new non-sectarian space for Scottish anti-capitalists and invites you to take part

Editorial: Empire will eat itself
Ashish Ghadiali introduces the June/July issue of Red Pepper

Eddie Chambers: Black artists and the DIY aesthetic
Eddie Chambers, artist and art historian, speaks to Ashish Ghadiali about the cultural strategies that he, as founder of the Black Art Group, helped to define in the 1980s

Despite Erdogan, Turkey is still alive
With this year's referendum consolidating President Erdogan’s autocracy in Turkey, Nazim A argues that the way forward for democrats lies in a more radical approach

Red Pepper Race Section: open editorial meeting – 11 August in Leeds
The next open editorial meeting of the Red Pepper Race Section will take place between 3.30-5.30pm, Friday 11th August in Leeds.

Mogg-mentum? Thatcherite die-hard Jacob Rees-Mogg is no man of the people
Adam Peggs says Rees-Mogg is no joke – he is a living embodiment of Britain's repulsive ruling elite

Power to the renters: Turning the tide on our broken housing system
Heather Kennedy, from the Renters Power Project, argues it’s time to reject Thatcher’s dream of a 'property-owning democracy' and build renters' power instead

Your vote can help Corbyn supporters win these vital Labour Party positions
Left candidate Seema Chandwani speaks to Red Pepper ahead of ballot papers going out to all members for a crucial Labour committee

Join the Rolling Resistance to the frackers
Al Wilson invites you to take part in a month of anti-fracking action in Lancashire with Reclaim the Power

The Grenfell public inquiry must listen to the residents who have been ignored for so long
Councils handed housing over to obscure, unaccountable organisations, writes Anna Minton – now we must hear the voices they silenced

India: Modi’s ‘development model’ is built on violence and theft from the poorest
Development in India is at the expense of minorities and the poor, writes Gargi Battacharya

North Korea is just the start of potentially deadly tensions between the US and China
US-China relations have taken on a disturbing new dimension under Donald Trump, writes Dorothy Guerrero

The feminist army leading the fight against ISIS
Dilar Dirik salutes militant women-organised democracy in action in Rojava

France: The colonial republic
The roots of France’s ascendant racism lie as deep as the origins of the French republic itself, argues Yasser Louati

This is why it’s an important time to support Caroline Lucas
A vital voice of dissent in Parliament: Caroline Lucas explains why she is asking for your help

PLP committee elections: it seems like most Labour backbenchers still haven’t learned their lesson
Corbyn is riding high in the polls - so he can face down the secret malcontents among Labour MPs, writes Michael Calderbank

Going from a top BBC job to Tory spin chief should be banned – it’s that simple
This revolving door between the 'impartial' broadcaster and the Conservatives stinks, writes Louis Mendee – we need a different media

I read Gavin Barwell’s ‘marginal seat’ book and it was incredibly awkward
Gavin Barwell was mocked for writing a book called How to Win a Marginal Seat, then losing his. But what does the book itself reveal about Theresa May’s new top adviser? Matt Thompson reads it so you don’t have to

We can defeat this weak Tory government on the pay cap
With the government in chaos, this is our chance to lift the pay cap for everyone, writes Mark Serwotka, general secretary of public service workers’ union PCS

Corbyn supporters surge in Labour’s internal elections
A big rise in left nominations from constituency Labour parties suggests Corbynites are getting better organised, reports Michael Calderbank

Undercover policing – the need for a public inquiry for Scotland
Tilly Gifford, who exposed police efforts to recruit her as a paid informer, calls for the inquiry into undercover policing to extend to Scotland

Becoming a better ally: how to understand intersectionality
Intersectionality can provide the basis of our solidarity in this new age of empire, writes Peninah Wangari-Jones

The myth of the ‘white working class’ stops us seeing the working class as it really is
The right imagines a socially conservative working class while the left pines for the days of mass workplaces. Neither represent today's reality, argues Gargi Bhattacharyya

The government played the public for fools, and lost
The High Court has ruled that the government cannot veto local council investment decisions. This is a victory for local democracy and the BDS movement, and shows what can happen when we stand together, writes War on Want’s Ross Hemingway.

An ‘obscure’ party? I’m amazed at how little people in Britain know about the DUP
After the Tories' deal with the Democratic Unionists, Denis Burke asks why people in Britain weren't a bit more curious about Northern Ireland before now

The Tories’ deal with the DUP is outright bribery – but this government won’t last
Theresa May’s £1.5 billion bung to the DUP is the last nail in the coffin of the austerity myth, writes Louis Mendee

Brexit, Corbyn and beyond
Clarity of analysis can help the left avoid practical traps, argues Paul O'Connell

Paul Mason vs Progress: ‘Decide whether you want to be part of this party’ – full report
Broadcaster and Corbyn supporter Paul Mason tells the Blairites' annual conference some home truths

Contagion: how the crisis spread
Following on from his essay, How Empire Struck Back, Walden Bello speaks to TNI's Nick Buxton about how the financial crisis spread from the USA to Europe

How empire struck back
Walden Bello dissects the failure of Barack Obama's 'technocratic Keynesianism' and explains why this led to Donald Trump winning the US presidency


1