Into the Abyss: The Rise of Europe’s Extreme Fringe

Calum Heaton May 12, 2014 1
Into the Abyss: The Rise of Europe’s Extreme Fringe

As Europe heads to the ballot box this month, a new and dangerous political force is on the verge of entering mainstream politics. Has this gone entirely unnoticed? 

As the European Parliament (EP) elections come closer, the major parties and media in the UK are on a crusade. One designed to discredit, maim and stigmatise the personnel representing the UK Independence Party (UKIP). This muckraking though has barely targeted UKIP policy, and as a result UKIP poll performance has peaked to 38% in recent weeks. On the continent, leaders of extreme groups, most notably Geert Wilders of the Dutch Party for Freedom (PVV) has noted the rise of UKIP and predicts they will join in with his dream of creating a far right parliamentary bloc after the elections. However, rules state Wilders must gain twenty-five willing MEPs from seven different countries. Though with a likely alliance with Marine Le Pen’s French Front National, Wilders will gain twenty-six seats. Crucially though, this will fail to meet the seven member state requirement. If UKIP do not cooperate, where else will Wilders find his political alliances?

 Italy: Lega Nord (LN)

Though polling lower than they had hoped, Lega Nord (The “Northern league”) is still predicted five seats in the parliament and for Wilders, is another member state. Though pioneering a more federal Italy, LN has a dark underbelly that fits in well with Wilder’s objections to mass immigration from Africa in particular. Though the existing Europe of Freedom and Democracy (EfD) group is partly led by LN MEP Francesco Speroni, tensions have erupted after Co-Chair Nigel Farage lambasted him for defending Norwegian mass murderer Anders Breivik. Currently, the League’s beliefs fit snugly into Wilder’s potential bloc, and their reputation within the EfD could signal a move more to the right.

Austria: Austrian Freedom Party (AFP)

Though only with two MEPs, the AFP has been pushing for greater EU influence since 2010 as it aligned itself closely with Le Pen’s Front National. Recently, Geert Wilder’s pledged that he would campaign to have fewer Moroccan immigrants in the Netherlands. Though causing outrage, Wilder’s has not deviated from such policies since founding the PVV in 2006 and argues that he is, “Preserving Dutch identity and culture”. This rhetoric falls into line with the AFP’s notion of Heimat or homeland. In the 1980s the party spoke of pan-German cultural identity and how to maintain it. In more recent years, the party now stresses just Austrian identity politics, an overtly common trait amongst the nationalist right.

Belgium: Vlaams Belang (VB)

The Dutch speaking nationalist party just across the border is an easy target for Wilders. With similar views on immigration, the “Islamification of Europe” and drug liberalisation, VB leaders have declared that Wilders is a, “spokesperson of our ideas”. However, their self-centred Flemish nationalist intentions could cause divisions, as has ever been the case with previous incarnations of extremist EP blocs. Though they changed their name in 2004, VB are still remembered as the party that desired a separate education system for immigrants and favoured mass deportations.

Slovakia: Slovak National Party (SNP)

Though on the dark fringes of Slovak politics, with not a single seat in the National Council, the SNP could be useful to Wilders. Though already sitting in the EfD with their solitary MEP, the Slovak party could be tempted to join those of similar ilk and with similar baggage. Born out of the fires of the collapse of the Eastern Bloc in 1989 and creation of an independent Slovakia in 1992, the party is riddled with accusations of racism and fascism. Rampant Hungarophobia and opposition to the Roma have led the SNS to call for the removal of the “parasites” and declare Hungarians as a “cancer”. As the EfD try to model them as an acceptable face of Euroscepticism, waving farewell to the SNS may not be lamented.

Sweden: Sweden Democrats (SD)

As the “Nordic Model” dominates the political landscape of Scandinavia, the SD proves to be the exception. Though mostly rid itself of neo-Nazi origins, the SD hopes to break through the hegemony of the traditional Nordic model in whatever way possible. Though with heavy handed political broadcasts branding immigrants as “Invaders”, the SD has undergone a “from boots to suits” transformation where they desire a strong voice in any field. With previous financial support from Le Pen, the SD could forge connections with Wilder’s group. Though with no love for the indigenous Sami people and their parliament in northern Sweden, this could draw up divisions with the autonomy focussed Lega Nord and Vlaams Belang.

Denmark: Danish People’s Party (DPP)

The DPP declares they, “love our country and feel we have a historical obligation to defend Danish culture and heritage”. Their anti-immigration stance is another common trait in the theoretical Wilder’s bloc, but their disdain towards Sweden could cause friction. Much of the DPP believe all of Sweden has failed when it comes to immigration state and claimed that Stockholm, Gothenberg and Malmö have become a “Scandinavian Beirut with clan wars, honour killings and gang rapes”. Such criticism could react badly with the Swedish SD.

As the UK media continues to target UKIP members with every weapon they have, a bigger storm is brewing in continental Europe. Parties of extreme nationalistic views combined with out and out racism are on track to bond together as a unified political force throughout all of Europe. However, the previous histories of similar groups have been short lived. Infighting has caused these blocs to self implode numerous times, only adding to the chaotic nature of the Parliament as a whole. As Wilders and Le Pen rub their hands at the thought of five other parties joining their struggle, such a fractious collection of people could become their own undoing. As the media in Britain sift through every UKIP council candidate they can find, they have failed to notice how difficult and splintered the 2014 parliament could be.

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  • Gareth Stone

    Wilders / the PVV as extreme? Really?

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