Far Right on Rise in Europe, Says Report

Far right on rise in Europe, says report

The far right is on the rise across Europe as a new generation of young, web-based supporters embrace hardline nationalist and anti-immigrant groups, a study has revealed ahead of a meeting of politicians and academics in Brussels to examine the phenomenon.

Research by the British thinktank Demos for the first time examines attitudes among supporters of the far right online. Using advertisements on Facebook group pages, they persuaded more than 10,000 followers of 14 parties and street organisations in 11 countries to fill in detailed questionnaires.

The study reveals a continent-wide spread of hardline nationalist sentiment among the young, mainly men. Deeply cynical about their own governments and the EU, their generalised fear about the future is focused on cultural identity, with immigration – particularly a perceived spread of Islamic influence – a concern.

“We’re at a crossroads in European history,” said Emine Bozkurt, a Dutch MEP who heads the anti-racism lobby at the European parliament. “In five years’ time we will either see an increase in the forces of hatred and division in society, including ultra-nationalism, xenophobia, Islamophobia and antisemitism, or we will be able to fight this horrific tendency.”

The report comes just over three months after Anders Breivik, a supporter of hard right groups, shot dead 69 people at youth camp near Oslo. While he was disowned by the parties, police examination of his contacts highlighted the Europe-wide online discussion of anti-immigrant and nationalist ideas.

Data in the study was mainly collected in July and August, before the worsening of the eurozone crisis. The report highlights the prevalence of anti-immigrant feeling, especially suspicion of Muslims. “As antisemitism was a unifying factor for far-right parties in the 1910s, 20s and 30s, Islamophobia has become the unifying factor in the early decades of the 21st century,” said Thomas Klau from the European Council on Foreign Relations, who will speak at Monday’s conference.

Parties touting anti-immigrant and Islamophobic ideas have spread beyond established strongholds in France, Italy and Austria to the traditionally liberal Netherlands and Scandinavia, and now have significant parliamentary blocs in eight countries. Other nations have seen the rise of nationalist street movements like the English Defence League (EDL). But, experts say, polling booths and demos are only part of the picture: online, a new generation is following these organisations and swapping ideas, particularly through Facebook. For most parties the numbers online are significantly bigger than their formal membership.

The phenomenon is sometimes difficult to pin down given the guises under which such groups operate. At one end are parties like France’s National Front, a significant force in the country’s politics for 25 years and seen as a realistic challenger in next year’s presidential election. At the other are semi-organised street movements like the EDL, which struggles to muster more than a few hundred supporters for occasional demonstrations, or France’s Muslim-baiting Bloc Indentitaire, best known for serving a pork-based “identity soup” to homeless people.

Others still take an almost pick-and-mix approach to ideology; a number of the Scandinavian parties which have flourished in recent years combine decidedly left-leaning views on welfare with vehement opposition to all forms of multiculturalism.

Youth, Demos found, was a common factor. Facebook’s own advertising tool let Demos crunch data from almost 450,000 supporters of the 14 organisations. Almost two-thirds were aged under 30, against half of Facebook users overall. Threequarters were male, and more likely than average to be unemployed.

The separate anonymous surveys showed a repeated focus on immigration, specifically a perceived threat from Muslim populations. This rose with younger supporters, contrary to most previous surveys which found greater opposition to immigration among older people. An open-ended question about what first drew respondents to the parties saw Islam and immigration listed far more often than economic worries. Answers were sometimes crude – “The foreigners are slowly suffocating our lovely country. They have all these children and raise them so badly,” went one from a supporter of the Danish People’s Party. Others argued that Islam is simply antithetical to a liberal democracy, a view espoused most vocally by Geert Wilders, the Dutch leader of the Party for Freedom, which only six years after it was founded is the third-biggest force in the country’s parliament.

This is a “key point” for the new populist-nationalists, said Matthew Goodwin from Nottingham University, an expert on the far right. “As an appeal to voters, it marks a very significant departure from the old, toxic far-right like the BNP. What some parties are trying to do is frame opposition to immigration in a way that is acceptable to large numbers of people. Voters now are turned off by crude, blatant racism – we know that from a series of surveys and polls.

“[These groups are] saying to voters: it’s not racist to oppose these groups if you’re doing it from the point of view of defending your domestic traditions. This is the reason why people like Geert Wilders have not only attracted a lot of support but have generated allies in the mainstream political establishment and the media.”

While the poll shows economics playing a minimal role, analysts believe the eurozone crisis is likely to boost recruitment to anti-EU populist parties which are keen to play up national divisions. “Why do the Austrians, as well as the Germans or the Dutch, constantly have to pay for the bottomless pit of the southern European countries?” asked Heinz-Christian Strache, head of the Freedom Party of Austria, once led by the late Jörg Haider. Such parties have well over doubled their MPs around western Europe in a decade. “What we have seen over the past five years is the emergence of parties in countries which were traditionally seen as immune to the trend – the Sweden Democrats, the True Finns, the resurgence of support for the radical right in the Netherlands, and our own experience with the EDL,” said Goodwin.

The phenomenon was now far beyond a mere protest vote, he said, with many supporters expressing worries about national identity thus far largely ignored by mainstream parties.

Gavan Titley, an expert on the politics of racism in Europe and co-author of the recent book The Crises of Multiculturalism, said these mainstream politicians had another responsibility for the rise of the new groups, by too readily adopting casual Islamophobia.

“The language and attitudes of many mainstream parties across Europe during the ‘war on terror’, especially in its early years, laid the groundwork for much of the language and justifications that these groups are now using around the whole idea of defending liberal values – from gender to freedom of speech,” he said.

“Racist strategies constantly adapt to political conditions, and seek new sets of values, language and arguments to make claims to political legitimacy. Over the past decade, Muslim populations around Europe, whatever their backgrounds, have been represented as the enemy within or at least as legitimately under suspicion. It is this very mainstream political repertoire that newer movements have appropriated.”

Jamie Bartlett of Demos, the principal author of the report, said it was vital to track the spread of such attitudes among the new generation of online activists far more numerous than formal membership of such parties. “There are hundreds of thousands of them across Europe. They are disillusioned with mainstream politics and European political institutions and worried about the erosion of their cultural and national identity, and are turning to populist movements, who they feel speak to these concerns.

“These activists are largely out of sight of mainstream politicians, but they are motivated, active, and growing in size. Politicians across the continent need to sit up, listen and respond.”

Voting trends

As a political party, having tens of thousands of online supporters is one thing but translating these into actual votes can be quite another. However, the Demos survey found that 67% of the Facebook fans of the nationalist-populist groups which put up candidates – some are street movements only – said they had voted for them at the most recent election.

Further analysis found that female supporters were more likely to turn support into a vote, as were those who were employed.

13 thoughts on “Far Right on Rise in Europe, Says Report

  1. Dear Dorado.

    I consider myself a moderate Christian, and do not believe everything anyone says on the Internet, including Mr Spencer. Your post covers much ground yet one might say it principally concerns European populist opposition to immigration to Muslims.
    A quote from your post –

    [These groups are] saying to voters: it’s not racist to oppose these groups if you’re doing it from the point of view of defending your domestic traditions. This is the reason why people like Geert Wilders have not only attracted a lot of support but have generated allies in the mainstream political establishment and the media.”

    Now a quote from the Delta Airlines site who is a partner with a Saudi Airline.

    - While Saudi Arabia does not issue visas to citizens carrying Israeli passports, Saudi officials say an Israeli stamp in a U.S. passport is not a barrier to entry, even for a stop in transit.

    - While Saudi Arabia does not allow non-Islamic religious articles within its borders, religious identity and a passenger’s religious articles are not barriers to flights on either Delta or Saudi Arabian Airlines flights.

    So I’m contrasting populist discrimination in Europe against the Muslim faith, against actual Saudi laws discriminating against Jews or against Christians of any faith carrying a Bible or wearing a cross.
    I believe similar restrictions apply in Pakistan, Afaganistan and other Middle eastern countries.
    So how are Muslims giving other faiths the same respect and consideration you are asking of European citizens.?

    • What we should find as rubbish the notion that “they discriminate against Christians there – so let’s discriminate against Muslims here…”
      This notion that we have to discriminate against anyone of any religious faith is contray to Western values. Relgious freedom and fredom of expression is for Muslims too – who cares what they are “doing there!”

  2. I agree there is a new right movement in Europe and I’m worrying about parts of it myself. But I’ve been trying to convince people that multiculturism is not the problem. I know from my own experience that multiculturism works, but it only works without Islam, the supremacist ideology that intends to kill multiculturism as soon as it has seized power. Islam kills freedom of speech, freedom of religion, gay rights and the like and they want to impose sharia law, the most barbaric law on this planet.

    Our European politicians are afraid of calling a spade a spade. They keep talking about not wanting “other” cultures. That’s rubbish! We like Indian Hindus, Chinese Confucians, Thai Buddhists and African Animists among us, as all of them respect our laws and way of life. They’re most welcome.

    Muslims are not welcome. They don’t respect our laws, want to undermine democracy, hate Jews, we’re called “apes and pigs” in the unholy Koran. That’s an idea I don’t really appreciate, that’s why I don’t want Islam in our Europe which always rejected that perverted creed.

    • and we also cant forget how islam gave rise to the dark lord sauron and how it helped him create the one ring, and how it is bowser is able to kidnap princess peach all because of islam.

    • So aberration is the voice of moderation in the European racist crowd. ‘Oh no not all brown people, only the Mooslims!’.

      I’ve got a question for you, moron. If I’m born in Europe, I live here and I love living here, what right do you have to tell me whether I am worthy to live in Europe or not? So what if I go to a mosque on Friday and my neighbour goes to church on Sunday? We both live in the same country and are proud to be British. Neither I or the vast majority of Muslims in Europe do the things you have claimed, and don’t plan on doing them either.

      This isn’t ‘your’ Europe, it’s ‘ours’ — and that’s everyone who lives here regardless of religion, race, gender or sexual orientation. If anything, it belongs more to those people who have endured years of racism and struggled to make a living for themselves and their families here.

      One can only imagine just how much of an idiot you must be to have constructed a scale of ‘acceptable’ minorities. Newsflash: those minorities have extremists within them as well who have done things that are just as bad as the extremists within Muslim communities. But thankfully, the rest of the world doesn’t have a narrow mind like you and does not judge everyone by the actions of a few. There is NO DIFFERENCE between Islamophobes like you and the racists who believe in kicking out all black people because there is more crime in their communities.

      I don’t care if you don’t think I’m welcome in my country. That’s right — my country. There is no “going back home”, I’m here to stay. And if my mere existence bothers you, or upsets you, so fucking what? No one cares what you have to say. If anything, the thought of you losing sleep because Muslims are supposedly taking over makes my stay here even more worthwhile.

      When a society excludes a group of people simply because they hold different beliefs, then that society is no longer free. If you want to do that, then you’re in the same class of loons as those who messed Europe up in the 1930s. And being Jewish doesn’t exclude you from support right-wing ideology, in case you want to bring up that defence, just ask the Jewish councillor running for the British National Party.

    • “Muslims are not welcome. They don’t respect our laws, want to undermine democracy, hate Jews, we’re called “apes and pigs” in the unholy Koran. That’s an idea I don’t really appreciate, that’s why I don’t want Islam in our Europe which always rejected that perverted creed.”

      Ahhhh – I smell the rotten corpse of Pim Fortuyn! First of all, the one Dutch tradition that was destroyed by Fortuyn was tolerance, which was developed by the Dutch to put behind about 500 years of religious conflict. Far from being a defender of “Dutch values” – Fortuyn utterly destroyed Dutch values and now the Netherlands (now thanks to Wilders) is becoming a radicalized nation and chief trouble-maker in the EU and international community.

      It is also typical of you Fortuynites to take one obscure imam in Rotterdam and say that “this is the way all Muslims in the Netherlands think.” This is infantile rubbish and also serves to dehumanize Muslim people who are of different religious viewpoints. “Dutch Muslims” are starkly divided between Moroccan and Turkish communities – and they have their own communities and find no commonality from “being Muslim.”

      Second of all, “islamisering” of the Netherlands is not happening or occurring. There is NO call from anyplace to “Islamize the Netherlands.” For one thing, “Dutch Muslims” are starkly divided between Moroccan and Turkish communities – and they have their own communities and find no commonality from “being Muslim.”

      I don’t know about presenting links to studies to post here on Spencer Watch, but I can post many links to studies that not only prove that “Muslims” don’t think this way, but that “islamisation” is not happening and those that believe that it’s occurring are either stupid, crazy or plan old bigots!

  3. aberration: Islam kills freedom of speech, freedom of religion, gay rights and the like and they want to impose sharia law, the most barbaric law on this planet.

    Don’t forget that Islam was also responsible for killing Harry Potter’s parents and the 2008 financial crisis and the Greek debt crisis and the high unemployment in the US and global warming, etc.

  4. As for the Greek financial crisis, the Ottomans exploited the Greek people for more than 500 years. So they are responsible, but Muslims never, ever apologise.

    • Wow, you are so stupid. An invasion 500 years ago is responsible for the Greek governments irresponsible overborrowing in the past 50 years? As well as exploiting the Eurozone to borrow huge amounts of money at low interest rates, there is the Greek government’s inability to properly tax its people, the Greek people’s refusal to pay those taxes and their resistance to any austerity measures and that’s why you have a financial crisis.

      So it seems like the Greeks have screwed their own country not the Turks.

    • so enlighten me on how in the hell something that happend 500 years ago is responsible for the current financial crisis that greece is going thru because I would like to know because as mosizzle says this seems to be the result of somethng the greeks did not the turks.

    • Your stupidity is overwhelming, @aberration. Greeks have been independent of the Turks since the 1830s. Other European countries such as Italy aren’t doing too well either–I suppose you attribute that to Muslims also? You’re simply confirming that ignorant Islamophobes such as yourself like to use Muslim as scapegoats for everything that goes wrong. Funny thing is that IbnAbuTalib was mocking you for that, and you fell for it like the bumbling clown you are.

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