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.
Share this article  
  share on facebook     share on twitter  

Labour Party laws are being used to quash dissent
Richard Kuper writes that Labour's authorities are more concerned with suppressing pro-Palestine activism than with actually tackling antisemitism

Catalan independence is not just ‘nationalism’ – it’s a rebellion against nationalism
Ignasi Bernat and David Whyte argue that Catalonia's independence movement is driven by solidarity – and resistance to far-right Spanish nationalists

Tabloids do not represent the working class
The tabloid press claims to be an authentic voice of the working class - but it's run by and for the elites, writes Matt Thompson

As London City Airport turns 30, let’s imagine a world without it
London City Airport has faced resistance for its entire lifetime, writes Ali Tamlit – and some day soon we will win

The first world war sowed the seeds of the Russian revolution
An excerpt from 'October', China Mieville's book revisiting the story of the Russian Revolution

Academies run ‘on the basis of fear’
Wakefield City Academies Trust (WCAT) was described in a damning report as an organisation run 'on the basis of fear'. Jon Trickett MP examines an education system in crisis.

‘There is no turning back to a time when there wasn’t migration to Britain’
David Renton reviews the Migration Museum's latest exhibition

#MeToo is necessary – but I’m sick of having to prove my humanity
Women are expected to reveal personal trauma to be taken seriously, writes Eleanor Penny

Meet the digital feminists
We're building new online tools to create a new feminist community and tackle sexism wherever we find it, writes Franziska Grobke

The Marikana women’s fight for justice, five years on
Marienna Pope-Weidemann meets Sikhala Sonke, a grassroots social justice group led by the women of Marikana

Forget ‘Columbus Day’ – this is the Day of Indigenous Resistance
By Leyli Horna, Marcela Terán and Sebastián Ordonez for Wretched of the Earth

Uber and the corporate capture of e-petitions
Steve Andrews looks at a profit-making petition platform's questionable relationship with the cab company

You might be a centrist if…
What does 'centrist' mean? Tom Walker identifies the key markers to help you spot centrism in the wild

Black Journalism Fund Open Editorial Meeting in Leeds
Friday 13th October, 5pm to 7pm, meeting inside the Laidlaw Library, Leeds University

This leadership contest can transform Scottish Labour
Martyn Cook argues that with a new left-wing leader the Scottish Labour Party can make a comeback

Review: No Is Not Enough
Samir Dathi reviews No Is Not Enough: Defeating the New Shock Politics, by Naomi Klein

Building Corbyn’s Labour from the ground up: How ‘the left’ won in Hackney South
Heather Mendick has gone from phone-banker at Corbyn for Leader to Hackney Momentum organiser to secretary of her local party. Here, she shares her top tips on transforming Labour from the bottom up

Five things to know about the independence movement in Catalonia
James O'Nions looks at the underlying dynamics of the Catalan independence movement

‘This building will be a library!’ From referendum to general strike in Catalonia
Ignasi Bernat and David Whyte report from the Catalan general strike, as the movements prepare to build a new republic

Chlorine chickens are just the start: Liam Fox’s Brexit trade free-for-all
A hard-right free marketer is now in charge of our trade policy. We urgently need to develop an alternative vision, writes Nick Dearden

There is no ‘cult of Corbyn’ – this is a movement preparing for power
The pundits still don’t understand that Labour’s new energy is about ‘we’ not ‘me’, writes Hilary Wainwright

Debt relief for the hurricane-hit islands is the least we should do
As the devastation from recent hurricanes in the Caribbean becomes clearer, the calls for debt relief for affected countries grow stronger, writes Tim Jones

‘Your credit score is not sufficient to enter this location’: the risks of the ‘smart city’
Jathan Sadowski explains techno-political trends of exclusion and enforcement in our cities, and how to overcome this new type of digital oppression

Why I’m standing with pregnant women and resisting NHS passport checks
Dr Joanna Dobbin says the government is making migrant women afraid to seek healthcare, increasing their chances of complications or even death

‘Committees in Defence of the Referendum’: update from Catalonia
Ignasi Bernat and David Whyte on developments as the Catalan people resist the Spanish state's crackdown on their independence referendum