In the days since the horrendous attacks in Norway, a long anti-Islamic screed by the attacker, Anders Behring Breivik, has been found online, explaining that Breivik hoped to start a revolution against multiculturalism.As much as the Norwegian public deplores Breivik’s hateful ideology, no one in Scandinavia can truly say that it’s altogether unfamiliar.
Breivik’s worldview is in many ways an extreme version of the populist right wing movement that exists in many European nations.
Breivik himself was once an active member of the Progress Party, an anti-immigrant party that is currently the second-largest in Norway. He left the party because it was too moderate for him.
He greatly admired Geert Wilders, the Muslim-baiting firebrand of the Netherlands. He also boasted numerous contacts within the English Defence League, a British right-wing organisation.
The European Commission Against Racism and Intolerance warned earlier this year that extremist feel that their views are legitimized when mainstream politicians such as Wilders.
If terrorists like Breivik are spurred on by more mainstream anti-multiculturalism, it might spell trouble in other European countries where the extreme right is on the rise.
While virtually all the groups included on this list have far more tolerant aims and more peaceful methods than Breivik, there is the worry that they are still tapping into the same well of discontent — and both may feed each other.
Progress Party (Framstegspartiet, FrP)
Central Figure: Siv Jensen
Ideology: The Progress party was founded as an anti-tax libertarian party, but today they are a mainstream populist anti-immigration party. They argue that immigration is the root cause of crime and strain on the very welfare state that they want to pare down. The Progress Party wants to tighten immigration policy down to only accepting a limited number of refugees. One of their more controversial campaign posters featured a dark-skinned criminal pointing a handgun at the viewer with the caption 'The perpetrator is of foreign origin!!(Quote in the press we often read.)'
They do not explicitly oppose EU membership for Norway. They would prefer to join the EU if a referendum on membership succeeds. The ruling Norwegian labour Party favours joining the EU with or without a referendum.
Power: Since 2005, the Progress Party is the second largest party in Norway. The party took almost 23% of the vote in 2009, up slightly from 2005. It has been growing in electoral success, but whether this lasts is uncertain. Recent opinion polls suggest that Progress Party voters are defecting to the even more Eurosceptic, but less controversial Høyre (Right) Party.
The ruling centre-left coalition has refused to cooperate with the Progress Party in forming a government, but there has been talk of joining forces with the Høyre Party in the future.
Front National (FN)
Central Figure: Marine Le Pen
Ideology: The FN opposes immigration, the welfare state, and the European Union. They previously advocated sending non-European immigrants back to their countries of origin, but now they reserve such treatment for foreign-born criminals.
The FN was founded by the crypto-fascist Jean-Marie Le Pen in 1972. Jean-Marie Le Pen stepped down earlier this year and handed control of the party to his daughter, Marine.
Marine is more liberal than her father on social issues such as abortion, but maintains the Front's hard stance on immigration and the threat posed to France by Islamic culture. Marine's ambition is to move the party and it's nationalist ideology into the mainstream by focusing on issues besides Islam and immigration. She is skilled at triangulation, even arguing that the rise of Islam is a threat to French Jews and gays.
Power: The FN currently holds no seats in the National Assembly, but their influence on public discourse is undeniable. Though the party was crushed in 2007, they have surged in recent local elections. In the 2011 Cantonal Election, the FN took 15% of the vote, just over one point behind Sarkozy's UMP.
This year, the Front only ran candidates in a minority of local races, but still managed to nearly match Sarkozy's UMP in share of the vote. Some opinion polls now show Ms. Le Pen leading in the presidential race. The huge gains in popularity are mostly attributed to the new leadership of Marine Le Pen. The UMP has already tried to woo the far-right with heavy-handed laws that target Muslim minorities.
Party of Freedom (Partij voor de Vrijheid, PVV)
Central Figure: Geert Wilders
Ideology: The Party of Freedom advocates closing the border to Muslim immigrants, banning the Koran, instituting a 'head rag tax,' and taking citizenship away from Dutch Muslims. They also want to place restrictions on immigrants from within Europe. Wilders and his party are Eurosceptics, wishing for greater national identity and less involvement from Brussels. They opposed Dutch participation in the Greek bailouts. Wilders staged a publicity stunt at the time, bringing a huge 'drachma' note to the Greek embassy in The Hague.
Power: The Party for Freedom is ascending. In 2006, they won nine seats in the Dutch Parliament. In 2010, they won 24 seats. They are the now the third largest party in Parliament with 15.5% of power. The PVV is anti-European Union, and they have 4 seats in the European Parliament. A court recently acquitted Wilders of inciting hatred with his invectives against Islam. Some see this as a sign of Wilders' growing popularity.
True Finns (Perussuomalaiset)
Central Figure: Timo Soini
Ideology: The True Finns have called Brussels 'the heart of darkness.' Central to their ideology is that Finns should not participate in bailing out 'wasteful countries' such as Greece and Portugal.
Given the name of their party, it is no surprise that they run on a xenophobic platform. They want to make it more difficult to acquire Finnish nationality or claim asylum in Finland. Their solution to declining birthrates is to encourage young women to study less so that they can give birth to more Finnish children. They oppose abortion and homosexuality.
Power: In this year's election, the True Finns quadrupled their share of the vote while every other party in the field lost their share. They are currently the third largest party in the Finnish Parliament. They refused to join a governing coalition that would support the European bailout. According to a recent opinion poll, a plurality of Finns support the party.
Northern League (Lega Nord)
Central Figure: Umberto Bossi
Ideology: The Lega Nord seeks greater autonomy for Northern Italy, which it calls 'Padania.' They sometimes even call for secession from Italy. Fiscal federalism is in the interest of North, which is richer than the South. Broadly, they support smaller-government and lower taxes.
The League opposes immigration from outside of Europe and from Romany (Gypsy) peoples within. They openly antagonize Muslims. One member once threw a pig's head into the future site of a mosque, thus making it unclean.
They are generally socially conservative on issues such as abortion.
Power: The League has nine members in the European Parliament, 26 in the Italian Senate, and 59 in the Italian Chamber of Deputies. Lega Nord is a part of Silvio Berlusconi's People of Freedom government. Especially now with Berlusconi's power fading, the League has considerable power in the national government. Giulio Tremonti, Italy's Finance Minister, is seen as an ally of the League.
Swiss People's Party (Schweizerische Volkspartei - SVP)
Central Figure: Christoph Blocher
Ideology: The Swiss People's Party is thoroughly against Switzerland joining the European Union. They want low taxes, a strong army, and very limited immigration. The party sent a strong message in 2009 when they sponsored a referendum against the construction of new minarets. 57% of Swiss voters approved the referendum. The four existing minarets will not be affected by the law. The SVP's next initiative would expel foreign-born criminals from the country.
Power: The SVP is by far the biggest party in Switzerland. In the 2007 elections, they received 28% of the vote, raising their ranks in the National Council from 51 to to 58 members. Opinion polls indicate that support for the SVP will increase only slightly in this October's federal elections.
Denmark People's Party (Dansk Folkeparti, DF)
Central Figure: Pia Kjaersgaard
Ideology: Their platform does not reject the norms of social democracy, supporting programs such as healthcare. What mainly sets them apart from the Liberals and Social Democrats is their obsession with border security and their feelings towards immigrants.
According to the party program, 'Denmark is not an immigrant-country and never has been. Thus we will not accept transformation to a multi-ethnic society. Denmark belongs to the Danes and its citizens must be able to live in a secure community founded on the rule of law, which develops along the lines of Danish culture.'
The Danish People's Party helped make Denmark's immigration laws the toughest in Europe. The party opposed Denmark's entry in to the European Union to begin with, and won a crucial victory this month when Denmark (controversially) reinstated border controls. This, of course, flies in the face of the Schengen Agreement that allows for easy inter-European border-crossing.
Power: The Denmark People's Party has been a crucial part of coalition governments for years, and their share of votes is growing, especially among younger voters. The party has steadily gained seats in Parliament. In 2007, they gained just one seat, increasing their representation to 25.
Source: NY Times
Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ) and Alliance for the Future of Austria (BZÖ)
Central Figures: Heinz-Christian Strache and Josef Bucher
Ideology: Both the FPÖ and BZÖ have been led by Jörg Haider, an extreme rightist widely known as a neo-Nazi and anti-Semite. Both parties campaign chiefly on an anti-immigration platform, but their party programs appeal to populists and libertarians was well. They both support low taxes, limited business regulation, and direct-democracy in the form of referenda. The FPÖ was once a pan-Germanist pro-European party. They are now increasingly nationalist and Eurosceptic. They oppose Turkish membership to the EU. Neither party endorsed the Lisbon Treaty.
The BZÖ was formed in 2005 when Haider left the Freedom Party. Their platform is similar to that of the FPÖ.
Barbara Rosencranz, the FPÖ's candidate for president in 2010 made waves when she suggested that Austria's banning of pro-Nazi speech should be repealed.
Power: Both the FPÖ and BZÖ made gains in the 2008 legislative elections. The FPÖ increased their share of the vote from 11% to 17.5%. The BZÖ nearly doubled it's representation, winning 10.7% The BZO's seats in the National Council tripled in 2008. Both parties were the only ones to gain power by share of votes and number of votes. The two right-wing populist parties together present a major challenge, it is unlikely that they could ever form a coalition government together. The FPÖ was last in a coalition government in 2000-2005.
The presidential election of 2010 was seen as a loss for the right in Austria. The FPÖ took a distant second with just over 15% of the vote. In the Vienna municipal elections in 2010, Strache broke the absolute majority of the Social Democrats. He appealed mostly to young, less educated men and older men. Opinion polls put support for the FPÖ at almost 50% among men under 30.
Central Figure: Jimmie Åkesson, Björn Söder
Ideology: The Sweden Democrats' slogan is 'Keep Sweden Swedish' and their platform does not disappoint. Like most of the right-wing populist parties in Europe, the Sweden Democrats are mostly known for anti-immigrant nationalism. They call for a 90% reduction in immigration into Sweden. Unlike other right-wing parties such as the Progress Party in Norway, the Sweden Democrats are not interested in dismantling Sweden's generous welfare state. But like the Danish People's Party, they wish to roll back the Schengen agreement and re-introduce border controls.
Power: The Sweden Democrats doubled their share of the vote and won their first seats in the Parliament in 2010. They won 20 seats with 5.7% of the vote, knocking the centre-right out of a majority. They are not a part of the Moderate-led government. With less than one year in Parliament, they have been largely ignored. Opinion polls show that support for the Sweden Democrats has remained steady.
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