Right-Wing Extremists in Europe

Article excerpt

Throughout world history, times of rapid change have stirred up antagonisms and paranoid views of either immigrants or minorities. We are witnessing the same phenomenon in Europe today - the latest of which spurred a Norwegian to commit mass murder in the name of his beliefs.

In the last 20 years, Europe has witnessed a surge in right-wing extremism. This trend is connected to the political dissatisfaction and loss of trust in government by a growing percentage of the population of European Union. These radical groups demand a strong but small government; they are in favor of strong nationalism and homogeneity, and express strong hostility towards asylum seekers and illegal immigrants. These groups oppose cultural pluralism and giving equal weight to the desires of the minority over the majority.

This trend is stronger in the northern parts of Western Europe like Austria, Denmark, Norway, Switzerland, Belgium, Netherlands, and Germany, but it is not limited to the West. Similar tendencies have appeared in Eastern European countries. The author of this paper presents a comparative analysis of several far-right organizations/parties in Western Europe as well as the characteristics of right-wing extremism in Eastern Europe.

The paper identifies the concerns that led to the popularity of these groups as well as the consequences for political stability and democracy in the European Union. The author examines the response of domestic institutions and external bodies, such as the European Union, and the attempt to stop or prevent the spread of these groups. To exemplify this trend, special attention is directed towards Germany and Russia.

An Intelligence Report from 2001 showed that resentment against immigrants is present across Europe. Here are some numbers to demonstrate this attitude, as revealed in an intelligence report (Southern Poverty Law Center 2001):

Austria - population 8 million

37% of Austrians would not shake hands with a Jew.

15 % of Austrians find people of different nationalities disturbing.

France - population 60 million.

27% believe that there are too many blacks in France

56% of French believe there are too many Arabs in the country.

Germany - population 82 million.

38% of Germans find the presence of people of other nationalities disturbing.

There are 75 extreme-right organizations.

Hungary - population 10 million.

70% of Hungarians believe that the Roma population is a threat to society.

Great Britain - population 60 million.

1 out of 5 Britons wants the expulsion of the immigrants.

Russia - population 145 million.

38% of Russians are anti-Semitic.

There are 37 ultranationalist publications.

There are 10 ultranationalists groups with a membership between 100-5000.

Slovakia - population 5.4 million.

60% believe that refugees carry diseases.

The Roma population is described as "mentally ill" (Former Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar).

The list goes on. Since this report was published in 2001 it is fair to assume that the number increased recently.

Scholars from different fields have attempted to offer explanations detailing why significant portions of the present day European population have embraced this rightwing extremism and why the popularity of these groups has increased in the last two or three decades. Some authors believe these groups are a backlash to the far-left parties which are supporting feminism, ethno-pluralism and minority rights. All these movements or concepts could be targets to be vilified by far-right groups in a world marked by economic instability and globalization.

Bolaffi, a professor in Rome, wrote that "Apparently, without the leftists, especially the Italian ones, there would be no skinheads, neo-Nazis, right-wing terrorists, or radical members of the parliament." (Schmidt 1993) Still, it is debatable if the farright groups are opposing left-wing groups or the established parties for supporting the issues of the left. …