<html><head /><style type="text/css"> <!-- .style1 {font-family: Verdana} --> </style> <body> <META http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=UTF-16"><title>Extremism from the Right</title><meta name="keywords" content="politics,right,asylum,austria,belgium,blok,britain,christopher,denmark,europe,extreme,extremism,extreme-right,far,france,front,germany,husbands,immigration,kingdom,national,nationalism,neofascism,norway,party,seekers,switzerland,uk,united,vb,vlaams,wing,"><table style="font-family:Verdana; font-size:larger; " align="center" border="0" width="50%"><tbody><tr> <td style="background-color:silver; border-color:white; border-left-style:none; border-style:none; " width="730"><span style="font-family:Verdana; font-size:larger; ">Extremism from the Right</span></td> </tr> <tr> <td height="26" width="730"><span style="font-family:Verdana; ">From: </span><span style="font-family:Verdana; font-size:x-small; ">London School of Economics and Political Science</span></td> </tr> </tbody></table><br><table style="font-family:Verdana; font-size:medium; " align="center" bgcolor="white" border="0" width="50%"><tbody><tr> <td height="131" width="669"><p><span style="font-family:Verdana; font-size:medium; ">Editors Introduction</span><span class="style1"> </span><span style="font-family:Verdana; font-size:x-small; ">The threat from the European far right is a palpable one. The swift rise to power of J&ouml;rg Haider's ultra-nationalist, xenophobic FPV party in Austria and similar right-wing parties in Norway, Switzerland and Belgium capturing nearly a quarter of the vote cannot be ignored as blips of discontent. Will the twenty-first century usher in a far-right renaissance? Christopher T. Husbands (right), reader in the Department of Sociology at the London School of Economics and Political Science and an expert on the European far right, provides an overview of the extreme right in Europe and attempts to explain the concerns that ground and build their support.</span><br> <br> <span style="font-size:medium; ">Extremism from the right: a threat to Europe?</span><br> <span style="font-family:Verdana; font-size:x-small; ">During the postwar period, the extreme right in Great Britain has never been more than a political irritant, even if there was a very brief period during the mid-1970s when even some sober and rational observers felt that it, in the form of the National Front (NF), was on the point of making a serious breakthrough in local and national politics. As it was, the extreme-right threat did not materialize, despite the moral panics about immigration that have been an intermittent feature of British politics during the later twentieth century.</span><br> <br> <span style="font-family:Verdana; font-size:x-small; ">From the late 1970s into the early 1980s the NF dispersed into different factions and groupings, all ultimately ineffectual and marginal. In recent years the previous public hostility towards immigration in general has been replaced by an equivalent concern about asylum seekers and illegal immigrants. The numbers of asylum applicants during 1999 and 2000, and the government's struggle to process these along with the backlog of undecided cases inherited from its Conservative predecessor, led to some modest electoral successes in a small number of local contests by the extreme-right British National Party (BNP) in the May 2000 council elections. However, these were short-term victories in a climate of paranoia about asylum seekers; they have been of no political consequence and are unlikely to be, given the public's well-developed superciliousness towards the BNP and the marginality, dubious competence and unsavoury background of its leadership over the years. Elsewhere in Europe, however, matters have not been as sanguine. Parties that by the standards of any political scientist would be classified as extreme right, even neofascist, have achieved substantial mass support in elections. In other cases, parties that may be only slightly more ambiguously classified as extreme right but which by any definition have right-wing, authoritarian, neopopulist and ethnically exclusionist features have emerged with the prospect of governmental participation or, as in the case of Austria, with the certainty of this.</span><br> <br> <span style="font-family:Verdana; font-size:x-small; ">In France since the early 1980s, in Belgium since the late 1980s, in Germany (albeit only intermittently) since the late 1980s, and (to a lesser extent) in the Netherlands periodically since the 1980s, extreme-right political parties have found their way into national, regional or local and municipal legislatures through success at the ballot box--largely through mobilizing voters against immigrants or foreigners. In other countries, sometimes in Denmark, Norway and Sweden and more inexorably in Austria and Switzerland, anti-immigrant neopopulist authoritarian parties that many would also label as extreme right have emerged in order to participate in actual government or to be in a position to threaten to do so.</span><br> <br> <span style="font-family:Verdana; font-size:x-small; ">Moreover, in Germany (though mostly in east Germany, the former German Democratic Republic) a different and more immediately threatening form of extreme-right racism has occurred, one not tied to politics in the traditional electoral sense but concerned with territorial control against foreigners and other outside groups such as gays and punks through street violence perpetuated by skinheads. Attached to this phenomenon is a well-developed subculture of right-wing extremist music appealing to skinhead youth. This German pattern is exceptional among Western European countries, since this on-the-street right-extremist phenomenon has no clear analogue in the level of electoral or opinion-poll support of the three principal mainstream extreme-right political parties in Germany: die Republikaner, the Deutsche Volksunion and the Nationaldemokratische Partei Deutschlands. Indeed, the last has more or less metamorphosed into the organizational vehicle of east-zone skinhead activism and, in the light of critical reports by the German constitution-protection authorities about the danger of its activities, it faces likely proscription by the Federal Constitutional Court.</span><br> <br> <span style="font-family:Verdana; font-size:x-small; ">This present review has to be succinct and circumspect, selecting the most important or distinctive country examples. We start with France, where many consider that the late-twentieth-century extreme-right phenomenon had its origin.</span><br> <br> <span style="font-size:medium; ">France: populism and prejudice</span><br> <span style="font-family:Verdana; font-size:x-small; ">France offers the case of perhaps the most sustained mass extreme-right politics in the postwar period. How France emerged from the Vichy experience and its slowness to confront questionable aspects of its wartime history have in recent years been revealed, as for example in the Klaus Barbie and Paul Touvier trials. During the 1950s, France experienced a hugely significant, if short-term, right-wing populist electoral movement associated with Pierre Poujade. In 1965, during the political furor in France after the end of the Algerian War of Liberation, an extreme-right candidate won more than 5 per cent of the national vote in the presidential election.</span><br> <br> <span style="font-family:Verdana; font-size:x-small; ">Thereafter, electoral right-wing extremism was in abeyance till the emergence in 1983 and 1984 of Jean-Marie Le Pen's Front National (FN). Le Pen's party was represented in the European Parliament, and in the French National Assembly until it was excluded by a change in the voting system, but with some ebbs and flows he consolidated his electoral base until in 1995 he attracted the support of more than 15 per cent of the French electorate in the first round of the presidential election. Yet, during the past two years, his party has been weakened almost to the point of irrelevance after a split and the establishment of a competing party under one of his former lieutenants.</span><br> <br> <span style="font-family:Verdana; font-size:x-small; ">Both groupings are now busted flushes, and their support is seen as electoral pickings for parts of the more mainstream French right. Jean-Marie Le Pen was recently deprived of his membership in the European Parliament. It is perhaps a salutary lesson that the extreme right is not always the beneficiary of inexorable growth, if nonetheless the French extreme right's crisis has been, in substantial part, of its own making.</span><br> <br> <span style="font-size:medium; ">Belgium divided</span><br> <span style="font-family:Verdana; font-size:x-small; ">Belgium is a special case, because the breakthrough of the extreme-right Vlaams Blok (VB) in Flanders has been assisted in part by the increasingly hostile division between the country's two linguistic communities. The VB undoubtedly benefited from the fallout of frustration and anger between these two parts of the country, because it was able to accuse the more centrist Flemish political parties of selling out because of their willingness to co-operate in coalition government. The VB is fervently Flemish-nationalist, wanting an independent Flemish state with Brussels as its capital.</span><br> <br> <span style="font-family:Verdana; font-size:x-small; ">However, the VB also has the more mundane trappings of an extreme-right political party. Most particularly, it has been one of the most xenophobic, anti-immigrant and (significant in the Belgian context) anti-Muslim parties of any in Western Europe. Indeed, one of its principal slogans translates simply as "Own People First!" The VB emerged to electoral significance from the mid-1980s, after seeing the electoral impact of the anti-immigrant rhetoric of the French FN. By 1988 it was winning seats in local councils, and it has held blocks of seats in the national legislatures. The epicentre of its support is the city of Antwerp. The VB has long won up to 25 per cent of the vote there and in municipal elections in early October 2000 it increased this figure to a third. Yet it remains excluded from municipal government by a coalition of other parties. It had previously been assumed that VB support was in decline because of the lessons purportedly taught to the Belgian electorate by the example of Austria's ostracism when an extreme-right party entered government. The lesson, apparently, was only imperfectly learned.</span><br> <br> <span style="font-family:Verdana; font-size:x-small; ">One should mention that, although extreme-right support in Wallonia is less, a Belgian Front National has attracted some support there in certain localities, especially working-class parts of Brussels such as Anderlecht.</span><br> <br> <span style="font-size:medium; ">Austria: a far-right renaissance</span><br> <span style="font-family:Verdana; font-size:x-small; ">The Austrian case has attracted the attention of all Europe since the Freiheitliche Partei &Ouml;sterreichs (FP&Ouml;) entered a coalition government with the &Ouml;sterreichische Volkspartei (&Ouml;VP) in early February 2000, after the latter's negotiations with the Sozialdemokratische Partei &Ouml;sterreichs (SP&Ouml;) to continue their mutual coalition had broken down. The attempt by the European Union to sanction Austria for allowing a party regarded by many as extreme right into the government of a member state collapsed in a transparent fudge because of the lack of consensus about enforcement and doubts about its ultimate legality. J&ouml;rg Haider, the FP&Ouml;'s leader until his purported recent resignation in favour of a figurehead alternate, has clearly outbluffed his opponents outside Austria, and he continues indulging in the sort of behaviour that led to his controversial status in the first place, such as expressing sympathy for Waffen-SS veterans.</span><br> <br> <span style="font-family:Verdana; font-size:x-small; ">It is instructive to see how Haider and the FP&Ouml; managed to achieve this notorious status. Back in the mid-1980s, the FP&Ouml; was in the doldrums, facing political extinction with less than 5 per cent of the national vote and an ageing electorate. Haider, emerging from his provincial power base in the southern region of Carinthia, captured the leadership of the FP&Ouml;, hitherto a party with a strongly nationalist wing but also a social-liberal wing. The latter was progressively purged and its residual members were left to establish a separate party in 1993, but Haider, emphasizing Austrian nationalism and increasingly xenophobic in his appeal, built up the FP&Ouml;'s electoral support until it fluctuated between 25 and 30 per cent of the electorate, despite the loss of the votes of the social-liberal breakaway grouping. However unsavoury the reasons for this, it is an undoubted political achievement.</span><br> <br> <span style="font-family:Verdana; font-size:x-small; ">Perennial fears: xenophobia and asylum Switzerland and some of the Scandinavian countries, especially Denmark and Norway, offer a slightly different scenario--mainstream right-wing or right-wing populist parties that have increased their support largely on the basis of undisguised xenophobia, especially against asylum seekers. Switzerland had long had several small parties explicitly based on fears of so-called <I>&Uuml;berfremdung</I>, excessive foreign influence; occasionally they emerged into political significance but never made much difference to the status of Switzerland's four-party corporatist governing coalition, in post since 1959.</span><br> <br> <span style="font-family:Verdana; font-size:x-small; ">However, it was rather a different matter when the mainstream right-wing political party, the Schweizerische Volkspartei (SVP), one of the parties forming the Swiss governing coalition, turned to anti-asylum-seeker rhetoric in order to increase its support. This strategy was not universally supported by all sections of the SVP but was aggressively led by the Z&uuml;rich local section; whatever tensions it may have introduced within the SVP, it propelled the party in the 1999 Swiss general election to its highest level of political support, with 23 per cent of the national vote.</span><br> <br> <span style="font-family:Verdana; font-size:x-small; ">Denmark and Norway have since the 1970s offered political science the Progress Party phenomenon, and there has been a similar, if less successful, equivalent in Sweden. Early on, the Norwegian version had a name different from Progress Party, but the emphasis of both was originally anti-taxation and anti-statist. Later, however, these parties moved much more towards characteristics associated with, though not exclusively the property of, the extreme right, especially xenophobic appeals against asylum seekers. This change has brought dividends especially to the Norwegian Progress Party, which has the potential to become a party with an irrepressible claim to be in a national coalition.</span><br> <br> <span style="font-family:Verdana; font-size:medium;">Lessons for the future</span><br> <span style="font-family:Verdana; font-size:x-small; ">Some lessons for the future may be drawn from the success of the extreme right in various countries, and it is useful to emphasize several explanatory factors. Some of these matters have depressing implications, but are nonetheless true for all that. There is no question but that moral panics about asylum seekers, and the manner in which this issue was dealt with by sections of the mass media of the countries concerned, are associated with surges in extreme-right support in several countries.</span><br> <br> <span style="font-family:Verdana; font-size:x-small; ">This factor does not explain every example of extreme-right support, but, since the late 1980s, the coincidence between rises in asylum-seeker numbers and extreme-right voting in Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Norway, for example, and also on a lesser scale in Great Britain, is too clear to be explained away as arising from chance or some other common cause. Perhaps more significant for the long-term future of the political systems of the respective countries, extreme-right parties in countries such as France and Austria, and even Belgium and Scandinavia, have taken advantage of, indeed contributed to, a crisis of social-democratic politics. Both the FN and the FP&Ouml; drew their later support increasingly from the social strata that had formerly been strongly social-democratic in orientation.</span><br> <br> <span style="font-family:Verdana; font-size:x-small; ">Although the French left recovered well in 1997, the Austrian mainstream left is a skeleton of what it was in the 1950s and 1960s. The "natural" link between social-democratic politics and a monolithically left-leaning working class has probably been broken forever in the politics of most Western European countries. In times of adversity or uncertainty, particularly when these affect the "left behind" strata of the electorate, extreme-right parties are likely to be there to attempt to take advantage of this situation.</span><br> <br> <span style="font-family:Verdana; font-size:x-small; font-style:italic; ">Copyright The London School of Economics and Political Science.</span> </p> </p> </td> </tr> </tbody></table> </body></html>