The past decade has seen the ascendance of several far-right political parties across Europe. These groups, many of whom have been roundly criticized for their antisemitic, xenophobic, racist rhetoric and policy proposals, have seen huge gains in recent European Parliament and national elections.
Looking at Europe as a whole, far-right parties have had a mixed track record. Marine Le Pen’s Front National won 25 percent of the vote in March’s departmental elections; the party has seen a 20 percent increase in electoral support over the past eight years as Le Pen works to soften her party’s image. In Hungary, the racist Jobbik Party won a parliamentary district for the first time in a by-election this weekend, clearly establishing itself as the second strongest party in that country. Greece’s virulently antisemitic Golden Dawn remains a potent political force, continuing to win parliamentary seats despite its entire leadership being under indictment for a string of racist and politically-motived murders and other attacks. Meanwhile, support for extremist parties has recently decreased in Italy, Slovakia, the Netherlands and Bulgaria.
Human Rights First is concerned that the ascent of extremist parties will corrode from within respect for the fundamental principles of democracy, human rights and protection of minorities on which the European Union was founded, and the TransAtlantic Alliance is based. The United States government should take special note of Jobbik, the National Front and Golden Dawn. These and other extremist parties espouse policies that are a danger to human rights. They also receive support from and have supported closer ties with Russia, e.g. voting against a European Parliament resolution condemning Russia’s invasion of Crimea.