We’re not Nazis, but…The Rise of Hate Parties in Hungary and Greece and Why America Should Care

Greece’s Golden Dawn and Hungary’s Jobbik represent the bloody tip of the far-right spear in Europe. In the May elections for the 751- member European Parliament, voters from at least 14 of the European Union’s 28 countries elected representatives from far-right parties that espouse values that undermine human rights. In all, they won 59 seats.

The leaders of these 14 parties express a wide range of political views, from finely nuanced bigotry to misogyny to adoration of fascist heroes of World War II. At least eight of them are pro-Russian. All have expressed either antisemitic, xenophobic, racist, homophobic, anti-Muslim, or anti-Roma sentiments. Golden Dawn is by far the most violent and has directly threatened the Greek state. Jobbik has been the most successful in advancing authoritarian and discriminatory policies, and it has sponsored paramilitary activity. Both have had enormous impacts on their societies.

Golden Dawn is a purely Nazi party, led by a man who was imprisoned for the attempted bombing of a movie theater and has for three decades associated with Nazi collaborators who ruled Greece from 1964-74 during the “Regime of the Colonels.” Jobbik officials have described Roma as animals and insects, and told Jews to start looking for a place to hide. Leaders of both parties have used their position in their national parliaments to deny the Holocaust and rehash ancient canards against Jews. The hatred these two parties promote has inspired waves of violence against minorities—including, in the case of Golden Dawn, murders.

On the geopolitical level, the rise of neo-fascist parties poses a challenge to the United States, and not only because Americans are horrified by the specter of barbarism within the European Union. At least eight of the 14 far-right parties have adopted a pro-Russian stance. Given rising tensions with Russia over Ukraine, the Transatlantic Alliance is more important than ever. Greece and Hungary are strategic NATO allies, but Golden Dawn and Jobbik want to pull out of the E.U. and NATO. Both see Russia, not the E.U. or the United States, as their ally.

The situation is not Europe in 1936, but neither are these parties the mere political fringe of the neo-Nazi skinhead movement. The European elections were a wake-up call, or should have been. The United States needs a strategy to defend human rights and the rule of law inside its old friends and democratic allies in Europe.


Published on December 8, 2014


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