New Report Details Rise of Extremist Parties in Europe; Recommends Steps for U.S. Government to Confront Growth of Far-Right

Washington, D.C. – Human Rights First today released a new report on the rise of violent ultra-nationalist parties in Hungary and Greece, and their impact on human rights.

The report, “We’re Not Nazis, but… The Rise of Hate Parties in Hungary and Greece and Why America Should Care,” finds that Russia has strong ties with the antisemitic, racist, homophobic, and extremist political parties Golden Dawn in Greece and Jobbik in Hungary. Along with many other far-right parties elected to the European Parliament in May, 2014, these parties see Russia, not the West, as their natural ally, supported the annexation of Crimea, and advocate pulling out of the European Union and NATO.

The report details the increasing popularity and influence of these parties, which have embraced the violence as well as the symbols of earlier fascist and Nazi movements. It documents the corrosive effect that Golden Dawn and Jobbik have already had on human rights and democracy in their own societies, and how they now threaten to erode European democracy from within.

“While the United States is focused on the tragic conflicts in Ukraine, Syria, Iraq, Gaza, and elsewhere, rising neo-fascist parties inside the European Union  are continuing to attack human rights and  undermine public support for the transatlantic alliance — just when America most needs its old friends and allies,” said Human Rights First’s Tad Stahnke, who co-authored today’s report. “Neo-fascist movements in Europe are no longer just an E.U. problem. To the extent that they damage the stability our allies, they are an American problem, too.”

Among the findings:

  • The rise of extreme far-right parties in Greece and Hungary is not simply the result of economic crisis. It represents a failure of governance.  The governments of Greece and Hungary, for different reasons, allowed Jobbik and Golden Dawn to put down deep roots, which will be difficult to eradicate. These movements are unlikely to fade away on their own when the economy improves.
  • Both parties have already had corrosive effects on their own societies, including the ruling parties that must compete with them for votes. In Hungary, Jobbik has helped Prime Minister Viktor Orban to become more authoritarian, pursue historical revisionism, violate European norms of constitutional democracy and human rights, and most recently, declare that Hungary rejects liberal democracy and will become an “illiberal state.” In Greece, Golden Dawn infiltrated the police and weakened the Greek government, which waited far too long to begin prosecuting its leaders for running a criminal organization and to purge police officials who enabled their crimes.
  • The United States should investigate the Russian connection to European extremist parties and whether Moscow is cultivating ties as part of a strategy to blunt anti-Russian policies in the E.U or to prevent further expansion of NATO. There are allegations that Jobbik has received financial support from Russia and Iran. These concerns deserve full investigation.

Human Rights First urges the U.S. government to work, with its E.U. partners and bilaterally, to take a number of steps to help restore the rule of law and fundamental rights in both countries. The United States needs a high-level strategy to reverse Hungary’s backslide on democracy and human rights and support Greece’s efforts to follow through on credible prosecutions against Golden Dawn leaders and their accomplices in the security apparatus.  The organization calls on President Obama to refute Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s notion that “illiberal” states will be better off economically and politically than liberal democracies.

“The United States cannot rely on self-correcting democratic institutions in either country to confront political extremism and hate violence,” said Stahnke. “It needs a strategy to promote universal values.”


Published on August 14, 2014


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