The Politics of Fear: What Right-Wing Populist Discourses Mean


Ruth Wodak

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    For Jakob





    Every day, when opening the newspapers in the morning, big headlines catch my eye, the most recent galvanizing provocation by a particular right-wing populist party or yet another success of such a party at recently held European, national or regional elections is discussed – the rise and, indeed, discursive prominence of right-wing populist parties currently seems to be without end. Thus, at some point, I had to take a difficult and deliberate decision: to stop collecting data and to finish this book. Other books will no doubt pick up the challenge and continue documenting the development of the European Union, the 28 EU member states and their political systems as well as follow the US primaries and the potential success of Tea Party candidates in various regional and national elections. In any case, it is undisputable that right-wing populist parties have moved away from the margins in many EU member states and beyond; that they have indeed become mainstream parties and movements. Many people react to this with surprise, asking themselves, how could this happen? And why is it happening now?

    No simple explanations seem viable – this book therefore presents an attempt to trace, understand and explain the trajectories of such parties from the margins of the political landscape, transformations from fringe parties originally ridiculed and made light of, to the centre, manifesting a general move to the right in their figurative wake. Currently, we observe a normalization of nationalistic, xenophobic, racist and antisemitic rhetoric, which primarily works with ‘fear’: fear of change, of globalization, of loss of welfare, of climate change, of changing gender roles; in principle, almost anything can be constructed as a threat to ‘Us’, an imagined homogenous people inside a well-protected territory. Post-war taboos such as the expression of blunt racism and antisemitism in public have been breached in the course of these changes and, frequently, we are left with the impression that the political arena at present follows the dictum ‘Anything goes!’ and that few, if any, alternatives to such a stance exist, because mainstream parties have incorporated many of the previously rejected proposals into their policy preferences and, indeed, effective legislation.

    In 1989, at the momentous occasion of the fall of the so-called Iron Curtain which had divided Europe into West and East, nobody expected that the immigration from the former Communist countries, Turkey and the Middle East would entail a rise in xenophobia and fear of losing jobs, and cause a division into ‘Us’ and ‘Them’, into the real ‘Austrians, Brits, Swedes, Germans or Danes’ and the ‘Others’, that is, foreigners. Old borders were dismantled and new borders were erected: via visas, language and citizenship tests, a veritable multitude of rules and regulations.

    Of course, immigration from the East is not a new phenomenon; before 1989, however, these migrants were refugees fleeing a totalitarian system; or they were so-called ‘guest-workers’ who were welcomed and, indeed, often fetched in the 1960s and 1970s in order to help out with jobs which nobody else wanted to take on. Many such guest-workers stayed in Scandinavia, Germany or Austria and have since acquired a new citizenship and belonging. After 1989, however, people leaving Eastern European countries were perceived as ‘economic’ migrants who voluntarily left their homes, in most cases legitimately searching for better lives. These new fears merged with traditional racist and antisemitic beliefs and discrimination against minorities that had already lived for many decades (and, in many cases, centuries) inside Western EU member states, for example, against the guest-workers, against Roma, Jews and other ethnic and religious, autochthonous minorities. ‘Modern strangers’ (to borrow Georg Simmel’s term) or ‘post-modern strangers’ (in the words of Zygmunt Bauman) were constructed as a ubiquitous threat to welfare, the economy and culture, even to ‘civilization’ as a whole.

    The horrendous events of 9/11 were another tipping point in this development: Muslims were suddenly perceived as an acute danger to security in many Western countries. More restrictions for immigration were quickly legitimized via security measures presented as necessary and therefore rarely challenged. Turkey’s potential accession to the EU triggered even more debates and evoked old collective memories of the victory of the Habsburgs against the Ottoman Empire in the 16th and 17th centuries, thus defending the ‘Christian Occident’ against ‘Islam and the Orient’. And, finally, EU enlargement in 2004 led to a merging of the concepts of refugees, migrants and asylum seekers: an enemy image of the ‘Other’ started to dominate political struggles and debates. This image has taken many local forms and shapes; it is a floating signifier, indeed an empty signifier which anybody can articulate for their political interests. In the US, moreover, the election of Barack Obama to President triggered the rise of the Tea Party movements in opposition to the government’s economic, security and health care policies – most probably also in reaction to a ‘black man’ sitting in the White House.

    As will be elaborated throughout this book, however, there exists no one-size-fits-all explanation for the continuing rise and success of right-wing populist parties. Many factors contribute to this success, such as renationalizing nativist tendencies, border narratives and ideologies, economic fears, and the many dramatic pasts – revealing similarities and differences between countries. Regarding the latter, for instance, countries with fascist and national-socialist pasts differ significantly from countries without such pasts. The scapegoats constructed by rich countries differ from those constructed by poor countries that have been vehemently struck by the economic and Eurozone crises since 2008. It is a notable, though far from coincidental, fact that many frequently violent and polemical debates are conducted over the regulation of female bodies – gender roles have changed, and it seems as if the ultimate ‘Other’ is currently personified by and identified with the headscarf and burqa, with the ways Muslim women choose to dress (or are sometimes forced to dress).

    Charismatic leaders and aggressive rhetoric are also important factors; indeed, for a long time, right-wing populist parties were primarily identified with and recognized by their rhetoric, argumentation schemes and aggressive debate mode. However, these factors per se do not suffice as salient characteristics; they do not suffice at all in defining the complex phenomenon of right-wing populism. It is the contents, that is, the ideologies and beliefs, the proposals and imaginaries conveyed by such rhetoric, that have to be observed, analysed and understood; only in conjunction do they provide insights into the many facets of right-wing populism on the rise. Meaning is constructed by form and content, to be understood and explained via many layers of contextual knowledge – historical, socio-political, intertextual and interdiscursive, as well as situative.

    In 2010, at the occasion of one of my public lectures on right-wing populist rhetoric and ideologies – this time in the town hall in Örebro, Sweden – my son, Jakob, who was present, challenged me on the point of possible similarities and differences with the US Tea Party, which, as mentioned above, had been launched as a vocal opposition to Barack Obama’s Presidency in 2008. He urged me to write a book that would also compare European right-wing politics and policies with the American political movement, which is absorbed largely in the Republican Party. Hence this book is ultimately an attempt to understand and explain at least some of these recent developments and to provide manifold examples intended to trace the micro-politics of right-wing populism, performing the many discourses, genres, images and texts in various more formal and also informal contexts. Fifteen vignettes serve this end throughout the book, approximating in-depth analyses of what we might consider snapshots of the political situation taken in Austria, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Switzerland, the Netherlands, the Ukraine, the UK and the US. The analyses of right-wing populist micro-politics are embedded in much contextual knowledge, in some facts and figures from various national and EU elections, and in important theoretical discourse-analytic, sociological, historical and political science theories. As a framework, they guide the fine-grained linguistic, pragmatic, rhetorical and argumentation analysis. Nevertheless, this book also and primarily addresses readers outside of academia pure – this is why I have made a point of employing a more popular, comprehensible style of writing while still doing justice to the requirements of systematic linguistic analysis.

    I start out in Chapter 1 by introducing readers to the complex phenomenon of right-wing populism, to the many contradictions posed by their programmatic statements, and to the – obviously successful – construction of fear throughout our societies. In Vignette 1, I present one of many examples of the ‘politics of denial’ and the blame-game: how the current leader of the Austrian Freedom Party (FPÖ) Heinz-Christian Strache (brand name HC Strache), speaking in an interview on prime-time Austrian television, continually denies having intentionally posted an antisemitic cartoon on his Facebook page. In Chapter 2, I provide some factual background (election results on the European and national levels from the 1980s to the present, in 2014) as well as a brief (and necessarily incomplete) review of important sociological and political science literature on right-wing populism. Two vignettes illustrate two important aspects of these ideologies: Euro-scepticism and the long and difficult search for European identities; and the rewriting of narratives of the past manifesting the need for national foundational myths, that is, historical revisionism. Chapter 3 elaborates important aspects of the discourse-historical approach (DHA) to critical discourse studies, and focuses on some salient linguistic phenomena and devices as well as specific discursive strategies, rhetorical tropes, argumentation schemes and the notion of topos: the topoi of urgency, threat, the saviour and history occur throughout right-wing populist rhetoric. Moreover, discursive strategies of justification and legitimation are frequently employed in the recurring ‘politics of denial’. Vignette 4 is dedicated to the in-depth deconstruction of discourses about security, analysing a speech by the Dutch right-wing populist politician Geert Wilders. The illustrated strategies can, of course, be applied to many other instances of security debates. Vignette 5 focuses on one of the key concepts used throughout this book: ‘calculated ambivalence’, the strategy of addressing multiple and contradictory audiences via a single, cleverly layered message. Indeed, Jörg Haider, the former leader of the FPÖ, took this strategy to new heights. Vignette 6 identifies another important discursive strategy amply used in right-wing populist (and exclusionary) rhetoric: the strategy of victim/perpetrator reversal. This strategy is part and parcel of the justification discourse and the many attempts of shifting blame, creating scapegoats and blame avoidance. A summary of the most relevant contents as well as rhetorical and discursive strategies is provided at the end of this chapter, addressing readers who might have only a passing interest in linguistic details.

    Chapter 4 is dedicated to the first of five topic-oriented chapters, tackling discourses about nationalism. Here, I argue that right-wing populism is characterized by renationalizing tendencies that go far beyond the commonly used ‘family and house metaphors’: body and border politics are emphasized in ethno-nationalist discourses drawing on traditional racist and indeed fascist ideologies. In this chapter, I further argue that we are currently experiencing a normalization of exclusionary rhetoric and illustrate this claim with two vignettes (8 and 9) from mainstream politics in the UK: the so-called ‘bus incident’, that is, ‘Operation Vaken’ during which London buses carried posters asking ‘illegal migrants’ to leave the country; and several political speeches by protagonists of the UK coalition government on restricting immigration. Furthermore, Vignette 7 exemplifies the above-mentioned body politics by analysing a poster series from Switzerland, Germany and Italy; Vignette 10 elaborates the new policies of gate-keeping via the emphasis on the ‘mother-tongue’, language and citizenship tests. Chapter 5 discusses the rise of antisemitism across Europe and traces significant differences in this respect between Western and Eastern European countries. I decided to restrict myself to analysing two instances of Holocaust denial, one each in Austria and in the UK, by way of two respective vignettes as case studies: Vignette 11 traces the 2010 election campaign for Austrian Presidency and the candidacy of the FPÖ MP Barbara Rosenkranz. Vignette 12 focuses on the BNP’s leader Nick Griffin and his participation – for the first time in the history of the BBC – in the well-known Thursday evening discussion programme Question Time. Both protagonists employ variants of coded Holocaust denial which have to be deconstructed in systematic qualitative ways. This chapter illustrates very clearly that antisemitism and anti-Muslim sentiments can occur simultaneously; Islamophobia has thus not substituted traditional antisemitism. It also reveals that old and new antisemitic stereotypes occur in parallel or are even merged, via a strategy I label as the ‘Iudeus ex Machina’ strategy, that is, whenever scapegoats are needed, the enemy image of ‘the Jews’ is readily seized and articulated in ever new variants.

    Chapter 6 presents the many ‘faces’ of right-wing populist leaders and politicians, their performance across the social and more traditional media, be it on Facebook, in comic books or in backstage speeches. Here, I also draw on some fieldwork in Washington, DC, conducted in the spring of 2012 during the Republican primaries for the November 2012 US presidential election. The concept of ‘authenticity’, that is, what it means to be a ‘real American’, is discussed with the example of the polarized debate surrounding Barack Obama’s presidency. Moreover, I introduce some aspects the US Tea Party and, more specifically, the underlying ideology of Sarah Palin’s ‘frontier feminism’. Vignette 13 presents a case study of one right-wing populist leader, HC Strache of the Austrian FPÖ, as an example of the media-savvy young and demagogic, successful and charismatic male leaders of right-wing populist parties.

    Chapter 7 confronts a rarely discussed and controversial phenomenon: the gender ideologies and the discourses that seek to discipline and regulate women’s bodies in right-wing populism. It is, as a matter of fact, somewhat surprising that the debates about the ‘burqa and headscarf’ as well as about ‘abortion and contraception’ have not been noted as salient for both European and US right-wing populist ideologies. Indeed, I claim that these debates function as litmus tests between conservative values and progressive values. Political struggle has shifted from focusing on social class to focusing on values that cut across the traditional left/right cleavage. New frames are adopted by politicians from all parties and by both women and men. Vignette 14 illustrates the fear that is strategically and intentionally triggered by the constructed danger to ‘our’ Western culture through Muslim dress conventions. Vignette 15 elaborates on the debate about abortion, usually carried by male politicians, throughout US politics. The final Chapter 8 brings the many aspects discussed throughout this book together and poses the pertinent question about alternative politics: How can we all avoid falling into ‘the trap’ cleverly constructed day-in and day-out by right-wing populist ideologies and its rhetorical manifestations? While a ready-to-go recipe or check-list to this end is clearly beyond the scope of any single book, prospective critique implies not taking anything for granted and opening up alternatives. The glossary provides facts and figures of the most important right-wing populist parties across Europe and beyond, thus aspects of the necessary socio-political context for the various analyses throughout this book.

    Many friends and colleagues have contributed immensely to this book over the past three years of intensive research and writing (although this topic has continuously occupied my research agenda and thoughts since 1989 and our first research project on media reporting about immigration from 1990, after the fall of the Iron Curtain, resulting in articles and books in the 1990s). Rainer Bauböck, Rudolf de Cillia, Helmut Gruber, Franz Januschek, Tony Judt, Katharina Köhler, András Kovács, Verena Krausneker, Theo van Leeuwen, Jay Lemke, Bernd Matouschek, Anton Pelinka, Alexander Pollak, Martin Reisigl, Maria Sedlak-Arduç and Teun van Dijk were all part of discussions and research about the Austrian Freedom Party FPÖ, its then leader Jörg Haider and his ‘infamous’ rhetoric in the 1990s and early 2000s. Without these important discussions and our teamwork in various projects, the interdisciplinary foundations for these new and unexplored research agenda would not have been established. Debates on many occasions at Civil Society events (with Ernst Berger, Walter Manoschek, Rubina Möhring, Doron Rabinovici, Heidi Schrodt, Peter Weinberger and many others) after 2000 and the instalment of the so-called ‘black and blue’ government in Austria (a coalition comprising the Austrian People’s Party ÖVP and the FPÖ) also contributed to the understanding of the enormous and unforeseen impact of changes implemented by this government, acknowledging that this was the first time the European cordon sanitaire was breached: a right-wing populist party with frequently coded racist, nativist, revisionist and antisemitic utterances became part of a government in the EU. These activities lastly formed my ethnography; I was able to experience the effects of such policies first-hand.

    From 2003 to 2005, I participated in a European Fifth Framework Project with the acronym XENOPHOB (‘The European Dilemma; Institutional Patterns and Racial Discrimination’, as Principle Investigator of the Austrian team, together with Michał Krzyżanowski and Fleur Ulsamer. In this project we were able to conduct focus groups and thus record and analyse ‘voices of migrants’ in systematic detail, documenting many narratives about traumatic experiences. Via my work as Director of the Austrian National Focus Point, of the then European Monitoring Centre against Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC; under the leadership of Beate Winkler) from 2000 to 2002 (and later on as Vice-Director), I had the privilege of meeting many European experts and attending important workshops on developments after 9/11. Apart from Michał and Fleur, I am indebted to Brigitte Beauzamy, Tom Burns, Gerard Delanty, Helena Flam, Paul Jones, Jens Rydgren and Nicos Trimikliniotis, for inspiring discussions and their many exciting ideas.

    When I moved to Lancaster in 2004, I continued with this work, for example in the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)-funded project RASIM (, together with Paul Baker, Costas Gabrielatos, Majid Khosravinik, Michał Krzyżanowski and Tony McEnery. This media study opened new horizons, both methodologically and theoretically. We were able to analyse substantial amounts of data via corpus linguistic tools and then analyse a smaller corpus using qualitative discourse analysis; we provided much evidence for the continuous production and reproduction of exclusionary rhetoric via print media. During my time at Lancaster and in the UK, I had the great pleasure of working and publishing extensively with John Richardson on related topics – a truly wonderful experience. Many conversations at Lancaster, with David Barton, Paul Chilton, Jonathan Culpeper, Anne-Marie Fortier, Neil Foxlee, Bob Jessop, Maureen McNeil, Greg Myers, Lynne Pearce, Andrew Sayer, Jacky Stacey, Ngai-Ling Sum, John Urry and Sylvia Walby proved extremely fruitful. The ‘Dynamics of Memory’ Research Group, including Mercedes Camino, Agata Fialkowski, Patrick Hagophian, Aristotle Kallis, David Seymour, David Sugarman and Naomi Tadmor, contributed many insights through the comparison of right-wing populist politics with the past experiences of totalitarianism in many other European countries and beyond. I was extremely lucky to receive much feedback at various stages of my research. In 2010, I was able to fund and organize an international and interdisciplinary symposium with Brigitte Mral and Stig-Arne Nohrstedt at the University of Örebro where I had been awarded the Kerstin Hesselgren Chair of the Swedish Parliament in 2008. The interesting discussions in a wonderful Swedish lake environment provided the opportunity to address the many contradictory aspects, both general and specific, of right-wing populism with prominent international experts. During my semester at Georgetown University, Washington, DC, in spring 2014, as Davis Chair for Interdisciplinary Studies, I was able to spend much time with close friends and colleagues, with Deborah Tannen, Paul Portner, Anna de Fina, Marilyn Merrit and Heidi Hamilton. While walking through the woods, Deborah and I discussed, amongst many other topics, the gender politics of the Tea Party as well as the linguistics of apologies and disclaimers.

    Most importantly, however, I am extremely grateful to my former and current PhD students: it was and continues to be a great pleasure and challenge to work with them, to discuss not only their research but also mine; I owe many insights to their critical, inspiring and knowledgeable questions and comments: Ana Tominc supported me in my research on the Tea Party, transcribed the Question Time episode analysed in Chapter 5 and became an expert in drawing diagrams; Salomi Boukala helped in collecting the complex and diverse facts about the various European right-wing populist parties and discussed the ongoing crisis in Greece as well as the rise of the Golden Dawn Party with me; Sten Hansson provided much insight on blame avoidance and found many websites and documents about the UK and UKIP; Federico Sicurella told me about the peculiar role of nationalistic intellectuals in post-Yugoslavia, Johnny Unger about the impact of social media for political movements, Bernhard Forchtner and Karin Stögner about the intricacies of the Frankfurt School, Kristof Savski about ‘Slovenian language-only’ movements, Can Küçükali about recent political developments in Turkey and José Manuel Ferreiro Gomez about past and present in Chile. I am also very grateful to Shaimaa Zaher, Soudeh Ghaffari, Zoe Arezoo and Taira Amin who all taught me a lot about the complexities of Islam and the various Muslim communities. Tony Capstick traced the difficult journey for Pakistani immigrants to Lancashire in the UK, and thus documented the many obstacles facing migrants in our globalized world. Reaching the end of this list, I have come to realize that there would be much more to say! Let me conclude, therefore, with a summary ‘Thank you’ to the many students, colleagues and friends who have also played an important role in conceptualizing this book.

    Finally, I am extremely grateful to Andrew Sayer, who commented on the draft manuscript of this book and provided very useful comments, and to the anonymous reviewers of the book proposal and manuscript who detected important gaps and inconsistencies. Of course, this book would not have been finished without the support of Markus Rheindorf. Markus read many drafts of the chapters, revised my English, and frequently detected inconsistencies, redundancies and contradictions. I am very grateful to him for his patience and his loyalty. I am also indebted to SAGE Publications and specifically to Mila Steele, who always managed to heave me out of black holes whenever I fell into them during my writing, as well as to Imogen Roome and Solveig Gardner Servian who were both responsible for the careful copy-editing of the book manuscript.

    My son Jakob not only triggered the idea for this book, he also had to listen to my worries and fears, and commented on my final draft chapters. I have learnt so much from his profound intellectual critique, from his differentiated views about politics, and from his informed questions and comments. This summer, Jakob spent a month in Vienna and we shared the same office – Jakob working on his PhD thesis and I on this book. Sometimes, we interrupted each other, though meaningfully; Jakob was always ready to listen, to read and to discuss. My loving partner Georg frequently had to live without me during the writing of this book: literally, because we commuted between Lancaster and Vienna; and metaphorically, because I sometimes vanished into my study – into the self-imposed isolation of writing – when focused entirely on finishing the last chapters. Our many discussions at dinner, on the phone, in the holidays, in the range of everyday situations in recent years were dominated by aspects of this book. His contributions are invaluable, his patience endless, and his support was always forthcoming. I am so grateful to both of you, thank you!

    Ruth Wodak


    I am indebted to:

    Salomi Boukala and Ashgate, for the reuse of some parts of Geert Wilder’s speech and parts of our analysis of this speech (Wodak and Boukala, 2014)

    Jakob Engel and Routledge/Taylor and Francis, for the reuse of parts of the analysis of the ‘Rosenkranz Affair’ (Engel and Wodak, 2013)

    John E. Richardson and Controversies, for the reuse of Image 7.2 and parts of our analysis of this image (Richardson and Wodak, 2009a)

    Martin Reisigl and Wiley-Blackwell, for the reuse of Image 6.10 and parts of our analysis of this image (Wodak and Reisigl, 2015; in press)

    Journal of Language, Identity, and Education, for the reproduction of two images (Images 4.6 and 4.7) and parts of the analysis of these images (Wodak, 2013c)

    Nicole Doerr, for the use of Image 4.4

    All the respective parts of analyses mentioned above have been shortened and also partly changed, refocused and rewritten. All the co-authors mentioned above have given me their explicit written permission for such use in this book.

  • Glossary of Right-Wing Populist Parties1

    The FPÖ was founded in 1956, 30 years before Haider became the party’s leader; it was a successor to the Federation of Independents, which gathered former NSDAP members after the end of World War II. The party saw an electoral comeback under the leadership and populist, xenophobic, revisionist and antisemitic rhetoric of Jörg Haider (Wodak and Pelinka 2002). In the 1999 national election, the FPÖ won 26.9 per cent of the vote and became the second strongest party in Austria. This electoral success led to a coalition government between the Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP) and the FPÖ, accompanied by the introduction of sanctions from the EU claiming that participation of the FPÖ in a coalition government ‘legitimized the extreme Right in Europe’ (Krzyżanowski and Wodak 2009; Meret 2010). Under Haider’s leadership, the party transformed into a far-right populist party claiming that its intention was to protect ‘Austrian culture and national identity’ and to safeguard Austrian people’s rights and prosperity. The issue that continues to dominate the political agenda of the party is immigration. In 1993 the party launched a petition to collect signatures in favour of a popular referendum on the control of immigration in Austria. While this caused a political crisis within the party (Meret 2010), it did not put a halt to the anti-immigration discourse of the party’s leadership. Its plans for restrictive amendments to the country’s migration policy were accomplished during its participation in coalition government (2000–2006). The FPÖ adopted a more radical, anti-immigrant and especially anti-Muslim agenda under HC Strache. The party now presents itself as guarantor of Austrian identity, social welfare, and social and financial stability through the prism of its Heimat (homeland) profile and has developed a Eurosceptic rhetoric (McLaughlin 2013). During the 2013 national election campaign, HC Strache used strong anti-immigration or racist discourse that increased the party’s popular support; the FPÖ is now openly described as far-right and xenophobic (McLaughlin 2013).

    Vlaams Belang (VB), which originates from Vlaams Block – which was forced to disband in 2004 due to its xenophobic, antisemitic and discriminatory discourse (Mudde 2003; Osborn 2001) – is a Flemish nationalist party that advocates independence for Flanders and the establishment of a Flemish Republic. Immigration and security issues still dominate VB’s political agenda. The party opposes multiculturalism, claims that strict limits on immigration are necessary and that immigrants should be obliged to adopt the Flemish culture and language (Coffé 2005). Although the new party’s members have attempted to moderate the ‘radical’ character of VB’s political programme, the leader of the new party and former chairman of Vlaams Block, Frank Vanhecke, soon maintained that ‘the party changed its name but not its tactics or programme’ (Coffé 2005; Erik 2005). Hence, the leadership of the party adopted anti-Muslim rhetoric on the basis of Islamist terrorism and emphasized the threat of ‘immigrants’ criminality’ in general (Coffé 2005). In 2009 VB participated for the first time in the European Parliament election and began an alliance with other Eurosceptic nationalist parties. All other Flemish parties in Belgium have agreed not to participate in a coalition with Vlaams Belang, forming a cordon sanitaire (Coffé 2005).

    ATAKA is an example of political-media links, in so far as a popular television talk-show presented by the journalist Volen Siderov evolved into a political party in 2005. ATAKA can be defined as an ultra-nationalist party that views Bulgaria as a one-nation state and claims that ‘differences of origin or faith have no priority over nationality’ (ATAKA 2014). The country’s Muslim minority was presented as ‘evil’ by the party’s leadership (Pencheva 2009). Moreover, the party emphasizes Bulgarian culture, language and the Orthodox religion, and opposes Bulgaria’s participation in the EU and NATO, attacking those who signed Bulgaria’s membership of the EU as ‘national traitors’. Furthermore, the party presents itself as fighting for the spiritual, social, educational and financial prosperity of the Bulgarian nation via the party’s main slogan: ‘Let’s regain Bulgaria for the Bulgarians’ (ATAKA 2014). The party blames the Roma for an increase in criminality in Bulgaria, and Jews and the EU for the financial and humanitarian crisis in the country (Rensmann 2011). The party also opposes the accession of Turkey to the EU as a ‘Turkish threat’ that intends to recolonize the Balkan region. ATAKA became the fourth largest party in Bulgaria by blaming both the colonial West-EU and Muslim Turkey (Tsolova 2013). ATAKA saw a sharp fall in its electoral percentages in the 2014 European Parliament elections.

    The National Popular Front (ELAM) was approved by the Greek Cypriot Authorities as a legal political party in May 2011. Prior to its official formation into a political party, ELAM was a nationalist movement that was established in the late 2000s and led by Christos Christou, who was an active member of the Golden Dawn far-right party in Greece and still remains ELAM’s leader (Katsourides 2013). He had already organized the political satellite of Golden Dawn in Cyprus under the name ‘Golden Dawn-Cypriot Kernel’, whose registration was rejected by the authorities, and then adopted the name ELAM (Kosmas 2013). The links between Golden Dawn and ELAM go beyond the party’s name or leader in the form of support for their ‘brother’ or ‘sister’ movement (Katsourides 2013). ELAM identifies itself as an antisystemic, nationalist movement that supports the interests of the Greek Cypriots and fights illegal immigration. The party has been accused by the Cypriot media of promoting racism and being involved in acts of violence against immigrants, Turkish Cypriots and students.

    The Danish People’s Party (DPP) was founded in 1995 after the split of the Danish Progress Party. It is a nationalist party that seeks to protect the monarch, the Church of Denmark and the rights and cultural heritage of the Danish people. The party’s leadership opposes the transformation of Denmark into a multi-ethnic, multicultural society and adopts an anti-immigration, especially anti-Muslim, stance (Rydgren 2004). According to the former leader of the party, Pia Kjærsgaard, ‘a multiethnic Denmark would be a national disaster’ (DPP statements 1997). In 2001, after its electoral success, the party participated in the conservative-liberal coalition government (2001–2011) and implemented stricter policies on immigration. The DPP is responsible for establishing Europe’s strictest law on immigration in 2002 (see BBC News 2005). In response to criticism from the Swedish government regarding its strict immigration rules, Pia Kjærsgaard maintained that ‘[i]f they want to turn Stockholm, or Malmö, into a Scandinavian Beirut, with clan wars, honour killings and gang rapes, let them do it. We can always put a barrier on the Øresund Bridge’ (BBC News 2005). In 2010, the party proposed a complete halt to all immigration from non-Western countries and justified this on the basis of the party’s moral responsibility to ‘keep Denmark Danish’ (DPP 2002).

    The Finns Party was founded in 1995 after the dissolution of the Finnish Rural Party. Supporting the ideological and political pillars of its predecessor, the Finns Party is described as a populist, nationalist party that currently forms the main opposition in the Finnish Parliament, after its electoral success in 2011 (Mars 2011). The party developed its rhetoric on the basis of Finnish nationalism, authoritarianism and Euroscepticism. It opposes Finland’s membership of the EU and NATO, criticizes globalism, attempts to minimize the Swedish influence in Finnish society by removing the obligatory character of Swedish as national second language in all levels of education, and promotes ‘Finnish identity’ (Arter 2010). The Finns Party supports limitations on and strict rules for immigration. It also demands that immigrants to Finland accept and adopt Finnish culture, emphasizing the threat of ‘immigrants’ criminality’ (Arter 2010; Mars 2011). The Finns Party is typical of Scandinavian populist, far-right parties that often justify their anti-immigration views on the basis of ‘welfare chauvinism’ rather than racism; their nationalism is milder and connections with extreme groups weaker than the right-wing populists of central Europe (Kitschelt and McGann 1995).

    The National Front was founded in 1972 in an effort to unify the different French nationalist movements of that period (Shields 2007). Until his resignation in 2010, Jean-Marie Le Pen was the leader of the party. Its first electoral success was in the 1984 European election, where the party won 11 per cent of the vote and 10 MEPs were elected (Hainsworth 2000). In the presidential election of 2002, Le Pen won against the socialist candidate Lionel Jospin in the first round and became the first far-right leader to participate in the final round of a presidential election, although he was beaten by the right-wing candidate, Jacques Chirac. In January 2011, Le Pen’s daughter, Marine, was elected as the new leader of the FN. Under her leadership the party attempted to downplay its fascist, antisemitic and far-right pillars, moderate its discourse and construct itself as a mainstream right-wing party (Shields 2007). This new image of the FN increased its popularity and led to the party’s victory in the 2014 European elections, but principles of nationalism and populism still dominate the party and are accompanied by anti-immigration, especially anti-Muslim, and Eurosceptic ideas (Shields 2007). The party claims that it will fight ‘illegal immigration’ and suggests the deportation of ‘illegal immigrants’, a reduction in legal immigration to France, and ‘zero tolerance’ of criminality (FN Programme, 2012). The FN also considers multiculturalism a threat to French national identity and opposes the Schengen Agreement. The party opposes France’s membership of the EU and the Eurozone and argues that the EU is a supranational organization that acts against the best interests of European peoples. Instead, it suggests the formation of a ‘Europe of nations’, which would respect the national characteristics and principles of every country, and would include Russia and Switzerland, but not Turkey (FN Programme 2012). In November 2013, Marine Le Pen and Geert Wilders announced their intention to cooperate in the 2014 European election during a press conference in The Hague. As Wilders noted, their aim is to ‘fight this monster called Europe’ which, according to Le Pen, ‘has enslaved our various peoples’ (see Economist 2013). The FN won the first place in France in the European Parliament elections of 2014.

    The National Democratic Party of Germany was founded in 1964 as a successor to the German Reich Party and is a far-right party usually described as a neo-Nazi organization (Backer 2000). Members and supporters of the party are considered to participate not only in anti-immigrant protests, but also in hate crimes and attacks against immigrants, while the party’s leadership is noted for its use of xenophobic, antisemitic and homophobic rhetoric (Deutsche Welle 2013b). The federal government has attempted to ban the NPD several times, in 2003, 2011 and 2012, claiming it is an ‘anti-constitutional’ party (Deutsche Welle 2013a; Rising 2012), but has not been successful. In March 2013, the government announced that it would not try again to ban the NPD (Eddy 2013). The NPD has never been elected to the national parliament (Bundestag), though its members have sat in regional parliaments. In 2004, the party won seats in the regional parliament of Saxony, and won six seats in the 2006 parliamentary election for Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. In the 2009 municipal elections, the party saw electoral success in eastern parts of Germany (see Local 2009; BBC 2006a). In the 2014 European Parliament elections, the NPD was elected for the first time with one member to the European parliament.

    The Popular Orthodox Rally was founded in 2000 by Georgios Karatzaferis, a few months after he was expelled from the conservative New Democracy party. Like many far-right parties, LAOS emphasizes its ‘patriotic’ profile. The ambiguities and discrepancies between the party’s official programme and LAOS representatives’ daily statements and speeches illustrate, however, the leading group’s attempt to mask the extreme-right features of the party (Psarras, 2010). LAOS’ programme reveals the populist ideology of the party, based on the idea of Greekness’s superiority (LAOS 2007). At the same time, the party demands the expulsion of all ‘undocumented’ immigrants from Greece and focuses alleged migrants’ criminality, especially in addressing their voters (Psarras 2010; Tsiras 2012). In this way, the party demonstrates its nationalist and racist characteristics along with its anti-communist, antisemitic and pre-dictatorship (supporters of the Greek military junta 1967–1974) pillars. Moreover, LAOS presented itself (in the 2009 national election) as an anti-systemic party fighting against political and financial powers and supporting the Greek people’s interests. The party lost its populist, anti-system credentials by supporting the bailout agreement between the Greek government and the so-called ‘troika’ (European Central Bank, European Commission and International Monetary Fund) in 2010, and later (November 2011) by participating in a coalition government with two mainstream parties, centre-left PASOK and centre-right New Democracy (Tsiras 2012). Although the party left the coalition after a few months, its participation was a strategic miscalculation that marginalized the party’s role (see national election results in May and June 2012 as well as the European Parliament elections 2014).

    Golden Dawn was founded in 1983 by Nikolaos Michaloliakos, a supporter of both Greek military dictatorships (1936–1941, 1967–1974), who had been arrested several times (in 1974, 1976 and 1978) for his terrorist activities as a member of far-right extremist groups (Psarras 2012). The statutes of the party imply that it is a popular movement, ‘with faith in the ideology of Nationalism’ (Golden Dawn 2012, 2). However, Golden Dawn’s neo-Nazi profile is clearly visible in the party’s symbolism, with its flag resembling a swastika, Nazi salutes and chant of ‘Blood and Honour’ encapsulating its xenophobic and racist ideology. The party relies on a strict military hierarchy and includes hit squads committed to perpetrating hate crimes against migrants, leftists and homosexuals (Psarras 2012). Golden Dawn reappeared on the political landscape in 1993, in the midst of nationalist fervour due to a dispute between Greece and the Republic of Macedonia over use of the name Macedonia (Ellinas 2013; Psarras 2012). Golden Dawn members present themselves as nationalists who fight the so-called ‘enemies’ of the Greek nation, though explicit references to the ideology of National Socialism are avoided. As Michaloliakos notes: ‘Back in the 1980s we flirted with all sorts of ideas of the interwar years including National Socialism and fascism. But by the 1990s, we settled the ideological issues and positioned ourselves in favour of popular nationalism’ (Ellinas 2013). Golden Dawn’s hit squads continued to carry out hate crimes and acts of violence against immigrants and political opponents, especially after their electoral success and the entry of the party into the Greek Parliament. At the same time Golden Dawn challenged the democratic reflexes of the Greek authorities by building ties to the Greek police; these were revealed when almost 50 per cent of Greek policemen voted for Golden Dawn in the 2012 national elections (Dalakoglou 2013). The first attempt by the Greek authorities to react against the Neo-Nazi threat and stop the far-right militias came in September 2013, when an antifascist hip-hop artist, Pavlos Fyssas or Killah P, was stabbed to death by a Golden Dawn member. This time it was a Greek who was killed by the neo-Nazis, not an anonymous immigrant, and the authorities proceeded to arrest party members and MPs, including Nikolaos Michaloliakos. Golden Dawn increased its percentage of votes in the European Parliament elections in 2014 despite the jailing of its party leaders.

    Jobbik was founded as a right-wing youth association in 2002 and transformed into a political party in 2003. After its electoral success in 2010, it became the main opposition party in the Hungarian Parliament. The party is described by scholars and journalists as a far-right, ethno-nationalist, populist political group (Huggan and Law 2009; Schori Liang 2007), features that the leadership of Jobbik rejects, in so far as it presents itself as a conservative, radical-patriotic, Christian party (Jobbik 2014a). The party’s main European Parliament election slogan in 2009, ‘Hungary belongs to the Hungarians’, criticized by the European Electoral Commission, illustrates the ideological position of the party. Jobbik dedicates itself to supporting Hungarian minorities in Romania, spreading solidarity among Hungarians and fighting so-called ‘foreign financial interests’ in the country (Jobbik 2014b). The leadership of the party openly expresses antisemitic beliefs through the prism of a ‘Jewish threat’ allegedly wanting to dominate the country. The party organized a protest against the World Jewish Congress in Budapest in May 2013, and many members of the party have made explicit antisemitic statements (see BBC news, 4 May, 2013b). Although Jobbik denies allegations of racism and violence, its members and supporters have been accused of racist incidents against Roma and homosexuals (ibid.). Moreover, the party refers to alleged ‘gypsy crime’ and declares its intention to face up to it (Jobbik 2014b). In 2007, Jobbik’s leader, Gábor Vona, founded the ‘Hungarian Guard’, which soon transformed into the party’s paramilitary wing that harasses and intimidates members of the Roma community and homosexuals. Jobbik’s Euroscepticism, antisemitism and racism are also expressed in the European Parliament, where they have found partners such as BNP’s Nick Griffin, who supported Jobbik and cooperated with the party in the 2009 European Parliament election (LeBor 2009; Waterfield 2009).

    The Italian neo-fascist party Forza Nuova was founded in 1997 by Roberto Fiore and Massimo Morsello. In 1985 the founders were sentenced for being members of Armed Revolutionary Nuclei – a fascist terror group that was implicated in the Bologna bombing of 1980, which killed 85 people. They both escaped to London where they stayed for more than 10 years as political refugees. In Britain, Fiore, who identifies himself as a fascist (Pallister 1999), became a close friend of Nick Griffin (BNP); and in 1986, thanks to his friendship with the leader of the BNP, he founded, with Massimo Morsello, ‘Easy London’, a society offering help to young people living and working in London; together they set up the International Third Position, a neo-fascist organization (Ryan 2004). Although Forza Nuova was founded in 1997, its founders, Fiore and Marsello, only returned to Italy in 1999; and after Marsello’s death in 2001, Fiore, who had maintained his ties with the British far-right organizations through educational and charity activities (Cobain 2008; Pallister 1999), became the sole leader of the party. He also became a member of the European Parliament when he replaced Alessandra Mussolini in 2007. Forza Nuova has been criticized for its political campaigns and acts of violence against immigrants and homosexuals. The party seeks repeal of the abortion law and openly expresses its opposition to immigrants (FN Programme 2012). Indeed, in March 2011, Fiore led Forza Nuova protests on the island of Lampedusa against immigration to Italy. Forza Nuova didn’t participate in the European Parliament elections of 2014 in so far as the party’s supporters failed to collect and submit the necessary 300,000 signatures.

    Lega Nord was officially founded as a federal political party in February 1991. The party’s electoral breakthrough came in 1992, transforming Lega Nord into a leading political actor (Gallagher 1992b, 2000). In 1994, the party proceeded to form an alliance with Berlusconi’s Forza Italia and doubled its parliamentary representation in that year’s national election. In 1995, Lega Nord joined the National Alliance (Alleanza Nazionale), a coalition of conservative and neo-fascist parties including the Italian Social Movement (MSI) led by Gianfranco Fini, who later became the leader of the Alliance (Gallagher 2000). The National Alliance participated in the coalition government under Berlusconi and the Lega Nord was represented in five ministries in Berlusconi’s government in May 1994. That government collapsed in December 1994 (McCarthy 1995). In the 1996 national election, Lega Nord had an important electoral success (59 deputies and 27 senators), although it stayed outside party coalitions. Thereafter, the leaders of the party developed their rhetoric regarding the secession of northern Italy under the name Padania. The party’s federalist, populist ideology dominated its discourse, and federalism became a major strand of the party’s political agenda. Indeed, the official programme of the party cited ‘federalist libertarianism’ as its ideological basis. While Euroscepticism is another ideological characteristic of the Lega Nord, the party openly supports the direct election of the President of the European Commission and requests more powers for the European Parliament and European Central Bank (Lega Nord Programme 2012). The same contradictory tactics and discourses appear in the party’s strategy on migration. Although the official party rejects charges of xenophobia and Islamophobia, illustrating the leadership’s attempt to present a more moderate character to justify participation in right-wing coalitions, such as Berlusconi’s House of Freedom (2000–2007) and People of Freedom (2007–2013), many members of Lega Nord make racist and xenophobic statements when they speak to audiences that consist of party members and sympathizers (Parenzo and Romano 2009). In December 2013, Matteo Salvini was elected as the new federal secretary of the party. He took a critical view of the EU, especially of the Eurozone, and before the 2014 European Parliament elections started to cooperate with Marine Le Pen (NF) and Geert Wilders (PoVV).

    The National Alliance is a coalition of conservative, liberal and nationalist parties. It first appeared as an electoral alliance for the 2010 national election and unified the conservative party For Fatherland and Freedom with the nationalist, far-right party All for Latvia, which is considered racist and neo-Nazi (Muižnieks 2005; Nathan 2011). The alliance won eight seats in that election. In 2011 it became a party and increased its seats to 14 in the national election. It is now the fourth largest party in the Latvian Parliament and participates in the centre-right government of Latvia. The National Alliance emphasizes the importance of Latvian culture and language, opposing multiculturalism and immigration. The party, and especially its ally All for Latvia, regards Russians and Russian imperialism as a threat to the Latvian nation and calls for cooperation between Latvia and the EU (FN Programme 2012). One of the partners of the alliance, the conservative For Fatherland and Freedom, participated in the 2014 European Parliament elections and succeeded in having one MEP elected.

    The Progress Party was originally founded in 1973 as Party for a Strong Reduction in Taxes, Duties and Public Intervention by the right-wing political activist Anders Lange. Lange sought to establish an anti-tax, anti-bureaucracy protest movement, which transformed into the Progress Party in 1977 (Andersen and Bjorklund 2000). According to the party’s leadership, ‘the Progress Party is a classical liberal party that shall work for a major reduction in taxes, duties and government intervention, and for the safeguarding of the rights of the people and their freedom, as the Constitution presupposes’ (Progress Party 2013) and its ideology is described as ‘classical liberalism’ (ibid.). However, media and academics describe it as a far-right party with xenophobic agenda (Andersen and Bjorklund 2000; Mudde 2000; Nilsen 2013). Although the Progress Party purports to be based on ‘Christian and humanistic values’, to oppose discrimination and support the integration of migrants into Norwegian society, its members usually resort to anti-immigration rhetoric (Paterson 2013). In the 1997 national election the Progress Party became the main opposition party in the country, a position that it also held following the national elections in 2005 and 2009. In 2013, the Progress Party in coalition with the Conservative Party won the national election and currently participates in a coalition government. This coalition has been criticized in the international media, especially because of the alleged links between the Progress Party and the terrorist Anders Behring Breivik, who was a member of the Progress Party in his youth and only left the party in 2006 (McDonald-Gibson 2013; Paterson 2013).

    The Law and Justice Party (PiS) presents itself as a conservative party, although there are close links between the party and the far right (Ciobanu 2013). Some of its tactics and aims, however, reveal its extreme-right ideological basis. PiS was founded in 2001 by the Kaczyński twins, Lech and Jarosław. The party won the 2005 election and Jarosław became Poland’s Prime Minister, while Lech won the presidency. Since 2007, PiS has been the second largest party in the Polish Parliament. The main aims of the party are a struggle against alleged corruption and the ardent ‘de-communication’ of the country. On foreign policy, the party opposes the EU as a supranational organization; but supports economic and military integration with the EU on terms beneficial for Poland (Jungerstam-Mulders 2006). In contrast, the party supports Poland’s strong alliance with the US. In other words, PiS can be characterized as a Eurosceptic and Atlanticist party. The discriminatory nature of the party first became apparent in 2002, when Lech Kaczynski, then mayor of Warsaw, refused permission for a Gay Pride parade, stating that it would be obscene and offensive to other people’s religious beliefs. Thereafter, homophobia and opposition to homosexual rights were presented as ideological pillars of the party, together with distrust of minorities, antisemitism and nationalism (Day 2009; Traynor 2009).

    Since the ‘carnation revolution’ Portugal has not witnessed resurgence in electoral success for extreme-right parties; quite to the contrary, the post-revolution has been characterized by the electoral failure of far-right parties that brought back memories of the old authoritarian regime. Hence, there was a ‘marginalization of the far right’ (Gallagher 1992a) in Portugal that still characterizes the country’s political landscape (Zuquete 2007). The results of the recent national and European Parliament elections illustrate the marginalized role of the National Renewal Party, though the party’s ideological core and discourse cannot be ignored by analysts of far-right rhetoric. At the time of its foundation, the party appeared to be neo-fascist and pro-Salazar’s ideas. However, since then the party has transformed into a counterpart of the Western European organizations, especially after the election of Pinto Coelho to the party’s leadership in 2005 (Zuquete 2007). One of the party’s main slogans is ‘Portugal for the Portuguese’, and nationalism is proposed as the only way of solving the country’s problems (Mudde 2000). At the same time, immigration is presented as an invasion that threatens Portuguese national identity and security as well as the survival of the Portuguese people (Zuquete 2007). The party’s discourse targets immigrants and internal and external forces, such as the EU, that are considered to be responsible for the ‘decadence’ in and destruction of Portugal. The Eurosceptic ideology of the party combined with anti-systemic and populist elements, dominates the party’s rhetoric and ensures its participation in the European National Front.

    The LDPR was founded in 1991 and is led by the ‘charismatic’ figure of Vladimir Zhirinovsky, well-known to Russian and international audiences for his populist, nationalist and racist rhetoric (see BBC News 2012). The party is described as far-right, anti-communist and ultranationalist and is centred on Zhirinovsky’s controversial personality (Cox and Shearman 2000). He encourages violent action and war in the name of a ‘Greater Russia’, supports the restoration of Russia with Belarus, Ukraine and other former Soviet republics and criticizes the discrimination by Baltic countries’ leadership against Russian minorities (Dunlop 2011). The party is also opposed to both communism and capitalism, presents the West as the main threat to the Russian nation and favours a mixed economy and liberalism (Cox and Shearman 2000). The LPDR noted its first electoral success in the 1993 Duma election, receiving a sizeable minority of the vote (almost 23 per cent). In the 2011 Duma elections the party’s percentage was 11.4 per cent, making it the fourth strongest party in Russia.

    The Slovak National Party (SNS) was founded in December 1989, its ideological base being the historical Slovak National Party of Czechoslovakia (1871–1938). The SNS presents itself as a nationalist party that emphasizes Christianity (Jeffries 2002). Its members’ statements regarding Roma and the Hungarian minority in Slovakia illustrate the racist, ultranationalist character of the party (see BBC News 2006). Its former leader, Ján Slota, has received media attention because of his racist statements and violent attacks against Hungarians (Balogova 2008). Since 1990 SNS has won seats in every Slovak Parliament and participated in the coalition government from 2006 to 2010. In the 2012 national election SNS noted its first electoral collapse, failing to meet the 5 per cent electoral threshold, losing its deposit and any parliamentary representation.

    España 2000, considered to be a far-right party, was founded in 2002 in Spain. The extreme-right remains a marginal ideology linked to the Franco era and the Spanish Civil War, and this is demonstrated by the party’s weak national electoral results. However, the financial and social crisis in Spain led to an increase in España 2000 sympathizers (see Mason 2012). The party’s main slogan is ‘Spaniards first’ and its aims relate to protection of Spanish national identity and Spaniards’ social rights. The party’s leading members maintain that they fight ‘illegal migration’ and globalization and support Spain’s position in a Europe of nation-states, but not in a supranational organization such as the EU (España 2000, 2000a). Hence, the party has similarities with the French Front National, which has supported España 2000 at its national congress (España 2000, 2000b). Indeed, the decision of the party’s leading team to congratulate Marine Le Pen for her success in the 2014 European Parliament elections illustrates the links between the French Front National and España 2000. Although the party’s electoral success is limited to the districts of Valencia and Madrid, its actions extend beyond the borders of these areas, given that it has organized demonstrations against immigration from Muslim countries in various Spanish cities.

    The Sweden Democrats’ rhetoric is based on xenophobic, populist and nationalist arguments (Kitschelt and McGann 1995). There is, however, an important difference between the SD and other Scandinavian far-right parties that hinges on the ideological roots of the SD. It was founded in February 1988 as a successor to the xenophobic, racist Sweden Party and Progress Party that provided the SD with its fascist roots and connections (Rydgren 2006). During the 1990s, the SD’s leadership rejected the party’s fascist past and sought ideological identification with the French National Front, the Freedom Party of Austria and the Danish People’s Party (Rydgren 2006). Since the 2000s, different leaders have continued the party’s policy of moderation, which involves the expulsion of any extremist members and the establishment of a nationalist Eurosceptic profile (Mudde 2007; Rydgren 2006). The SD promotes ‘Swedish culture and national identity’, opposes the special rights given to the Sami population of northern Sweden and criticizes the EU and the Eurozone. Moreover, the party’s leadership claims that Swedish identity and Swedes are threatened by immigrants, and thus rejects their integration into Swedish society and multiculturalism, and seeks to restrict the number of immigrants on the basis of the Danish People’s Party political agenda (Rydgren 2006). In the 2010 national election, the SD crossed the 4 per cent threshold and entered the Swedish Parliament for the first time, and since then has increased in popularity (see the 2014 European Parliament elections).

    At the time of writing, the Swiss People’s Party is the strongest party in the Swiss Parliament and presents itself as a centre-right party for the middle classes. The orientation of the party’s electoral platform for 2011–2015 is expressed by the slogan ‘SVP – the party for Switzerland’. The SVP was founded in 1971 via a merger of the Party of Farmers, Trades and Independents (BGB) and the Democratic Party, and had become the strongest party in Switzerland by the 2000s (Stockemer 2012). According to the SVP’s programme (2011–2015), the party intends to protect the Christian culture, rights, freedom and prosperity of the Swiss people, and is committed to lower taxes and less state control and bureaucracy; it supports an ‘immigration policy tailored to the needs of Switzerland, instead of unlimited mass immigration’ and the deportation of foreign criminals. Although these aims are not directly linked to a far-right party, its xenophobic ideology is apparent in its references to immigrants; they are represented as a threat to the security of the Swiss people and Swiss national identity (Stockemer 2012). Moreover, the party alleges that 50 per cent of the crimes in Switzerland are committed by foreigners. The anti-immigrant and especially anti-Islamic character of the party is illustrated by its usage of racist posters during election campaigns (BBC News 2007; Day 2011; Mir 2011). Another threat to Swiss identity, prosperity and independence alleged by the SVP is the possibility of Switzerland’s entry into the EU, which the party vehemently opposes (Stockemer 2012; SVP Programme 2011–2015). The Eurosceptic, anti-immigration character of the party was also revealed by its role in the referendum concerning the anti-immigration law in 2014 and its leading position in the ‘Yes’ vote (Baghdjian and Schmieder 2014; Traynor 2014).

    The Party for Freedom (PVV) is based on the ‘charismatic’ figure of its founder and leader, Geert Wilders. In the 2010 national election it became the third strongest party in the Netherlands; Wilders gave the governmental coalition his support, though without having ministers in the cabinet. In 2012, the PVV withdrew its support from the government due to its opposition to austerity measures, a decision that led to a political crisis. During the difficult political situation following the 2010 national election and PVV’s support for the minority government, the party pushed for anti-immigration measures, such as the ‘burqa ban’ that was never implemented (CNN 2012). In this way, the PVV revealed its anti-immigration basis that has been further developed in the party’s programme. The PVV calls for a halt to immigration from Muslim countries and intends to forbid Islamic schools, headscarves and the Quran. Moreover, the party seeks the deportation of criminals with foreign citizenship and restrictions on immigrant labour. Simultaneously, Wilder’s party aims to protect ‘Judeo-Christian culture’ and punish any violent acts against Jews or homosexuals. It has a Eurosceptic profile, demanding withdrawal from the EU and the Eurozone, and a return to the old Dutch currency (see PVV Political Agenda 2010–2015). The anti-Muslim ideas dominate the rhetoric of Wilder, who usually emphasizes the alleged ‘Islamic threat’ to European Judeo-Christian civilization (Traynor 2008; Wodak and Boukala 2014). This anti-immigration and especially anti-Muslim ideological basis of the party have led to the PVV’s characterization as a far-right party (Art 2011). The international media usually refer to the PVV as extreme-right and anti-Muslim, although Wilders maintained he was not anti-Muslim: ‘I have a problem with Islamic tradition, culture and ideology, not with Muslim people […] I don’t hate Muslims, I hate Islam’ (Traynor 2008).

    Svoboda was originally founded in Lviv in 1991 as the Social-National party of Ukraine and was based on the collaboration of a number of ultra-nationalist movements that define themselves as enemies of communist ideology (Olszanski 2011; Rudling 2013). The name of the party was an intentional reference to the Nazi Party in Germany. Membership was restricted to ethnic Ukrainians, although the party also recruited skinheads and football hooligans (Rudling 2013). The Social-National party of Ukraine, Svoboda, was renamed the All-Ukrainian Union Svoboda, in February 2004 with the rise of Oleh Tyahnybok to party leader. Tyahnybok made significant efforts to moderate the party’s extremist character and use of Nazi symbols. The new leader, however, did not deny the nationalist, antisemitic and anti-communist tradition of the party; quite the contrary as, in 2004, Tyahnybok was expelled from the parliament for a speech calling for Ukrainians to fight against a ‘Muscovite-Jewish mafia’ and praised the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists for having fought ‘Muscovites, Germans, Jews and other scum who wanted to take away our Ukrainian state’ (Rudling 2013). Svoboda’s ideological base is (ultra-) nationalism. The party opposes ethnic minorities and languages, and its members openly express opposition to Russians, Jews, immigrants and homosexuals. In the 2012 Ukrainian parliamentary election, Svoboda won its first seats in the Ukrainian Parliament. In October 2012, Svoboda joined a formal coalition with the centre-right Batkivshchyna and UDAR parties to form the Parliament’s collective opposition. Svoboda actively participated in the pro-EU protest campaign, February–March 2014, aiming to influence regime change and integration with the EU. Five members of Svoboda held positions in Ukraine’s government following the clashes in February 2014 (Salem 2014).

    UKIP was founded in 1993 and is described by the UK media and academics as a Eurosceptic, populist party (Abedi and Lundberg 2009), although UKIP identifies itself as a ‘democratic, libertarian party’ (UKIP 2013a). In the local election of 2013 the party saw some electoral success and won several council seats nationwide; in the national election 2015, UKIP won one seat in the House of Commons. The party is characterized as a one-issue party (Euroscepticism) and by the populist rhetoric and performance of its leader, Nigel Farage (see Abedi and Lundberg 2009; BBC News 2006b), who has been a UKIP MEP since 1999. UKIP was founded on the basis of Euroscepticism and still emphasizes the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. It adopted a British anti-European stance and came second in the 2009 European Parliament election, behind the Conservatives, with 13 elected representatives (Underwood 2010). In the 2014 European elections, UKIP came first in the UK and had 24 MEPs elected. UKIP states that the UK should leave the EU and all other European organizations and institutions, such as the European Convention on Human Rights and the European Convention on Refugees and the Protection of Refugees. The party claims that as long as Britain remains under the EU’s umbrella, the immigration issue that dominates the party’s political agenda cannot be solved and the British authorities cannot ‘deport foreign criminal and terrorist suspects where desirable’ (UKIP 2013b). Moreover, the introduction to UKIP’s policy on immigration mentions that the party aims to reduce ‘uncontrolled immigration’, introduce a ‘freeze’ on immigration for permanent settlement and deal with ‘illegal immigrants’ and their deportation (UKIP 2013b).

    The British National Party (BNP) was founded in 1982 by John Tyndall, previously leader of the far-right National Front, a party with neo-Nazi ideology and links (Hill and Bell 1988). The BNP’s ideological platform is considered fascist and nationalist (Copsey 2007; Renton 2005; Richardson 2013a, 2013b). The party has never won a seat in Parliament, though it did see electoral success in the 2009 European Parliament election, when two of its leading members, Nick Griffin and Andrew Brons, were elected MEPs. From the very beginning, the BNP’s leadership has sought to distance itself from fascist and neo-Nazi groups, although the ideological pillars of the BNP are nationalism and fascism (Copsey 2007). In 1999, Nick Griffin was elected as the new leader of the party. Griffin’s main aim was to modernize the party’s image and moderate its ideological basis. An anti-immigration stance, however, remained the number one issue on the BNP’s agenda, transforming quickly into Islamophobia, especially after 9/11 in New York and the 7/7 London bombings in July 2005 (Copsey 2007). The party’s manifesto refers to freedom, security and democracy as important values of the British nation at risk. In particular, the party claims that ‘democracy is under threat from the EU and mass immigration, both of which threaten to extinguish all of our traditions and culture’ (BNP 2010). The BNP demands the deportation of all ‘illegal immigrants’ and those foreigners who are convicted of crimes in Britain (ibid.). It also demands Britain’s immediate withdrawal from the EU, which is allegedly destroying Britain’s national identity and nationhood. Moreover, the party describes immigration from Muslim countries to Britain as ‘the Islamic colonization of Britain’ and demands that ‘Islamic immigration be halted and reversed as it presents one of the most deadly threats yet to the survival of our nation’ (ibid.). Furthermore, the party opposes multiculturalism, and although it attempts to downplay its nationalist, fascist and antisemitic characteristics, it refers directly to ‘British superiority’: ‘British people may take pride from knowing that the blood of an immense column of nation-building, civilization-creating heroes and heroines runs through their veins […]. Being British is more than merely possessing a modern document known as a passport. It runs far deeper than that; it is to belong to a special chain of unique people who have the natural law right to remain a majority in their ancestral homeland’ (BNP 2010). According to the UK media, several BNP members have attempted to ‘protect’ their British rights through violent activities (see BBC News 2013a). John Tyndall himself has convictions for assault and organizing neo-Nazi activities (Human Rights Watch 1997) and Nick Griffin was convicted of hate speech (Botsford 2013). The BNP cooperates with far-right or neo-Nazi parties, such as the Greek Golden Dawn, the Italian Forza Nuova and the Hungarian Jobbik, and plays a leading role in the Alliance of European National Movements (AENM).

    1.1.United States of America2
    The US Tea Party Movement

    Many academics, political scientists and journalists describe the Tea Party as an example of corporate-funded astroturfing associated with the Republican Party (Formisano 2012). Skocpol and Williamson define the Tea Party as ‘neither solely a mass movement nor an astroturf creation, arguing for something in between: a grassroots movement amplified by the right-wing media and supported by elite donors’ (2012, 50–51). The name ‘Tea Party’ refers to the ‘Boston Tea Party’, a protest by colonists who objected to a British tax on tea in 1773 without having the right to representation, and dumped British tea taken from docked ships into the harbour (Leopore 2010). The origins of the current Tea Party movement were, on the one hand, grassroots in nature, developing outside the existing power centres in Washington, DC, and in the more remote regions where conservative politics meet a more libertarian, right-wing opposition. On the other hand, roots derived directly from elements within the Republican Party apparatus and began as proxies for the party itself (Burghart and Zeskind 2010, 15). Among the earliest moments that led to the establishment of the Tea Party movement were the events of the 234th anniversary of the Boston Tea Party, primarily directed at the libertarian part of the Republican Party and focused on the Republican Congressman Ron Paul as the intellectual ‘godfather’ of the party. His supporters held a ‘tea party moneybomb’ to raise campaign funds for his campaign in the 2008 Republican presidential primaries (ibid.). After the election of President Barak Obama (2008) and the signature of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (February 2009), which led to many protests nationwide, the first official ‘tea parties’, such as the ‘Freedom Works’, appeared and continued to emerge throughout the summer. According to Burghart and Zeskind (2010), the turning point for the Tea Parties was the Freedom Works rally on 12 September 2009 in Washington, DC, when a massive event gave Tea Party groups an opportunity to work together. Hundreds of thousands of Tea Parties met in the streets and shared their stories and their anger with the Obama government. Tea Parties had turned from periodic protests into a full-fledged social movement (ibid., 17).

    Most politicians who support the Tea Party have participated in various electoral campaigns as Republicans (since 2008); however, as Abramowitz (2014) notes, Republican primaries have been the site of competitions between the more conservative Tea Party wing of the party and the more moderate establishment wing. The Tea Party is not a typical political party as it does not have a formal structure and hierarchy, and does not promote one single political agenda. However, most of the Tea Party groups focus on budget deficits, taxes and the power of the federal government. Moreover, Tea Party groups request tighter border security, and oppose amnesty for illegal immigrants, abortion and gun control. They also emphasize issues of (nativist) nationalism: many voiced concerns regarding Barack Obama’s birth certificate and promoted the idea that the President of the US was not a ‘real American’ (Formisano 2012; Skocpol and Williamson 2012). Burghart and Zeskind (2010) studied the six main national organizational networks at the core of the Tea Party movement. They provide much evidence that the leading figures of the 1776 Tea Party (the faction more commonly known as were imported directly from the anti-immigrant vigilante organization called the Minuteman Project. Tea Party Nation seems to gather so-called birthers and has attracted Christian nationalists and nativists. Tea Party Express frequently outraged the public with the racist pronouncements of its leaders. Finally, both ResistNet and Tea Party Patriots, the two largest networks, have provided a home to well-known anti-immigrant nativists and racists (ibid., 57–65).

    Opinion poll data reveal that the majority of the Tea Party supporters are white, middle-class, conservative men who used to vote Republican. However, they are more conservative and much more politically active than other Republicans (see opinion data in Abramowitz 2011; Burghart and Zeskind 2010). The close link between the Tea Parties, anti-immigrant politics and media support can be observed, for example, in Congresswoman Michele Bachmann’s Tea Party Caucus in the House of Representatives. Founded in July 2010, the Tea Party Caucus quickly grew to include 51 representatives, all of them Republicans.


    1 I am very grateful to Salomi Boukala for helping me with the literature search and review for the glossary. Obviously all the listed parties are right-wing populist parties; however, some of them can certainly be described as Neo-Nazi or fascist parties. I have added such characteristics whenever appropriate.

    2 Because the Tea Party movement is embedded into the Republican Party, I cannot provide similar information on election results and so forth. As I have in respect to all the other parties in the Glossary.


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