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Independent: Rise of Europe's extreme politics

From Stockholm to Sardinia, Waterford to Warsaw, a noisy and eclectic band of nationalists and eurosceptics are on the campaign trail hoping to unseat their mainstream rivals in the European Parliament.

Dutch anti-Islamists, Hungarian nationalists, Italian separatists and an Irish-backed anti-Lisbon Treaty party are all clamouring for seats when Europe goes to the polls between 4 and 7 June. And a combination of dismally low voter turnout and the economic downturn looks set to play into their hands in the vote.

by Sassafras on Tue May 19th, 2009 at 01:44:07 PM EST
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First let me sound sceptical: whenever people talked about a "rise" of (far-right) extremists in Europe over the past decade, they were focusing on the rise of far-right parties in some countries, while forgetting about the collapse of the far-right in others. This time, too: if I am not mistaken, the Polish far-right will be cut down, so will be the Bulgarian one, the Romanian is already gone.

Still, the rise of the Dutch, Austrian, British, Hungarian far-rights is very worrying.

"It's really very ironic that these groups have decided to go European, given that they are all basically campaigning against the EU," says the Green Party's co-president Monica Frassoni. But she points out that these parties are so rooted in domestic politics that Romanian and Hungarian groups campaigning on an anti-Roma gypsy ticket are unlikely to get into bed with, for instance, the Vlaams Belang, which wants independence for Flanders. "I can't see how they will organise themselves into a credible new faction given the complete disarray and isolation they've faced before."

She is too optimistic, and apparently uninformed. The far-right parties have long sought alliances, and failures weren't down to such minor issues as differing enemies. For example, just the Vlaams Belang was at the forefront of an attempt to team up with the (then current) Central European colleagues at a conference in Austria a few years ago, and failure was more because they found the Eastern colleagues more extreme (or, more to the point, more explicit) than themselves.

Direct nationalist conflict, as with the Italian vs. the Romanian far-right over the anti-Romanian xenophobic campaign in Italy, can be a real disincentive. (That will prevent any Hungarian-Romanian far-right cooperation even on a joint anti-Gipsy platform, for example.) However, that doesn't mean that a subset of the far-right parties, ones without direct nationalist conflicts, can't form a block.

Finally, what I am speaking about is not hypothetical but finished fact. The BNP, Fiore and Hungary's Jobbik are closely cooperating for a year now (I reported before, first time last October), visiting each others' events at top level, holding a top level meeting on EP election strategies. There is even a Jobbik representant in London who keeps in permanent touch with BNP.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Wed May 20th, 2009 at 03:59:22 AM EST
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What's ironic is that the far-right is doing a much better job of organising itself across Europe than the complacent and disconnected establishment pseudo-left.

With the current state of rage against the establishment, the neo-nazis stand a tragically good chance of making a positive impression.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed May 20th, 2009 at 10:12:54 AM EST
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