- 07 05 19

In the 2019 European Parliament elections radical right and far-right parties are projected to gain more influence than they’ve ever had before.   On this page, you can find all of HOPE not hate’s coverage of the far right in Europe ahead of the elections. It will be updated throughout the election period with research looking at specific parties and the threats they pose to protections against discrimination and the upholding of equality and democracy in the EU.   We will also publish resources on everything you need to know about the main Islamophobic parties in three EU countries, so that you can help us spread the word and fightback against them.

CHAPTERS: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12


What Would A Far-Right European Parliament Mean For Europe?

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Chapter 1: What Would A Far-Right European Parliament Mean For Europe?

Elections for the European Parliament have historically attracted relatively little enthusiasm from the electorate. Voter turnout is routinely low despite it being the only EU institution where citizens can directly elect their representatives. The 2019 election will, however, take place in a significantly different context from previous elections. The political landscape both globally and within the EU has changed considerably since 2014. From Trump’s victory in 2016, to Bolsarono’s in 2018, there are continued indications of how anti-globalisation and nativist ideas are an increasingly powerful force internationally. In Europe, Brexit and similar calls for exiting the EU have shown how Euroscepticism has surged as a an effective topic to mobilise around.

It now looks as if the centre-left and centre-right blocs are likely to lose their joint control of the Parliament for the first time in 25 years. 23 out of 28 member states now have populist radical right, far-right or hard Eurosceptic parties in their national parliaments. After the recent Spanish elections, the far-right Vox party is set to enter parliament and are polling at around 10% in the EU elections. The Conservative People’s Party of Estonia more than doubled its vote share in the national elections in March and Salvini’s League is polling at 33% at the time of writing; a rapid rise from 6.2% back in 2014 which could give the far-right party 25 chairs, making it the largest party in the Parliament and giving it more seats than most other member states have in total. The rise of the League in Italy coupled with even modest gains by the far-right in populous states like Spain and Germany would meaningfully influence the makeup of the European Parliament.

The effects could be far reaching. Radical and far-right parties in the European Parliament are not only a challenge to the institution itself but also come with significant risks for the citizens of the Union and those seeking entry to it. While the Parliament shares its role as legislator with the Commission and cannot propose new legislation itself, it has many possibilities to exert influence over other institutions. For example, it approves the commissioners of the European Commission and it has significant power to control budgets, structure and staff of other institutions.

Stalling and reversing progress

A yearly survey by the European Commission found that citizens in all EU countries saw immigration as the most important issue facing the EU in every member state in 2018. This was a stark contrast to 2014 when the most salient issues in almost all member countries were related to economic questions. Not a single country had immigration as their main issue then. By 2016 this had changed, a result of the increase in immigration in 2015 and 2016 and, likely more importantly, the coverage of it by media and politicians. That immigration levels are now down to previous numbers doesn’t seem to have had much impact.

Although there are issues that separate them, among other things their stance on Russia, migration remains the most important issue uniting the radical and far-right parties in Europe. Viktor Orbán indicated this sentiment when he said in January that “the conventional division of parties into those of the right and of the left will be replaced with a division between those which are pro-immigration and those which are anti-immigration.” Over the last few years, mainstream parties across the EU have increasingly adopted nativist policies and made reception of immigrants less and less humane. Considering that politicians across the continent have been quick to adopt anti-immigration stances in their national parliaments, it would be naive to think that it would work differently in the European Parliament, which has long fought the perception of being undemocratic and detached from its electorate. In institutions where national governments have direct influence, such as the European Commission and the Council of the European Union, the effect will be even more tangible.

An indication that the EU’s approach to immigration is already worsening as a direct result of the rise of radical and far-right parties across the continent and separate from their potential influence in the European Parliament, is the recent decision to stop ‘Operation Sophia’, the sea patrols in the Mediterranean aimed at preventing the death of migrants coming in boats from North Africa. The decision came after Salvini’s government threatened to veto the operation completely.

Migration is an area where the European Parliament does not have direct legislative power but has increasingly made non-binding, pro-migrant resolutions about. A larger proportion of anti-immigrant MEPs could effectively hamper this, limiting the capacity of member states and the council to take a humanitarian approach to immigration. Furthermore, the EU, according to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, “is required to prevent and reduce irregular immigration”. There are also several other ways the European Parliament can directly and indirectly influence the ability for people to migrate to the EU and the safety of those attempting to do so. It can, for example, make changes to the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, also known as Frontex, through pressure on the Commission and through control of its budget and in limiting spending on aid.

Anti-discrimination legislation is another area where far-right parties can meaningfully disrupt and worsen the lives of large groups of EU citizens by making the institution lose its edge. EU directives prohibit discrimination on racial and ethnic background in employment, social protection, education and public services such as housing. Further improvements to expand equality legislation are currently being debated. For example, discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, disability, age, religion or belief are currently only protected in the context of access to employment. These and many other areas for expansion of protection could be under threat if a more socially conservative parliament with a strong far-right bloc were to gain power.

A weakened institution

Much of EU’s power to influence member states in the areas of migration and anti-discrimination are of a consultative and non-binding nature. Non-binding agreements are a common way to exert pressure on member states but their efficacy is dependent on the legitimacy and relative unity inside the institutions. This tool will be seriously hampered by a rise in radical and far-right parties in the European Parliament and in national governments. Non-binding measures exerted on questions of, for example, migration, will be less effective if backed by a disunited EU. Especially so if large member states, such as Salvini’s Italy oppose a more humanitarian centred position on migration.

Also potentially undermined by this bloc could be the concrete capacities of the EU to sanction member states that do not follows their obligations under EU law. For example, Article 7, which can be used to suspend privileges of members if they violate the EU’s founding values (i.e. respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights), requires a supermajority in the European Council, something that is looking more and more difficult to achieve. This can have consequences for the rights of already vulnerable minorities, such as the Roma population. Currently, Article 7 proceedings are currently open against Poland and Hungary but little tangible action has been taken and a stronger bloc of far-right parties would make such action even less likely.

The effects of a large growth of radical and far-right parties in the European Parliament would undoubtedly tie the hands of the EU. It will incur a clash between the internationalist and the nationalist cohorts, the latter of whom are seeking to either use the EU to advance their national, nativist agendas, or undermine the institution itself. Through obstruction tactics even a minority bloc of radical and far-right parties will be able to undermine the possibility of the EU to support humanitarian and anti-discriminatory projects, and make it significantly less effective in dealing with breakage of EU law and treaties (something already occurring in some member states).

At a deeper level it will cause the paralysis that anti-EU parties across Europe are already blaming the EU for. The common argument that the EU is inefficient, disconnected from the electorate and incompetent will thus be only encouraged in practice. This jeopardises the European public’s relatively favourable stance towards the EU and provides further possibilities for far-right parties to mobilise around a nationalist agenda in opposition to the EU, which we area already seeing.


EU Elections - Country by Country

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Chapter 2: EU Elections - Country by Country


Party to watch: Freedom Party (FPÖ)

Domestically, the far-right Freedom Party is currently part of a ruling coalition government alongside the conservative Austrian People’s Party and their Chancellor Sebastian Kurz. Polling indicates that they have remain popular while in government and the Financial Time’s poll tracker shows the FPÖ on 21.1% of the vote which would be a rise from the 2014 European elections when they received 19.7%. 


Party to watch: Vlaams Belang (VB) 

VB are a populist radical right party which seeks an independent Flemish state. At the 2014 European elections they received 4.26% of the vote with the recent Belgian polls showing they have risen to 9.3% this time around, a result that should they achieve it would give them 1 seat. In addition to the European election, Belgian voters will also have simultaneous federal and regional elections. 


Party to watch: United Patriots (Bulgarian National Movement (IMRO); the National Front for the Salvation of Bulgaria (NFSB); Attack (ATAKA))

The United Patriots is the ultra-nationalist, far-right electoral alliance formed by three political parties: the Bulgarian National Movement (IMRO), the National Front for the Salvation of Bulgaria (NFSB) and Attack (ATAKA). They finished third in the parliamentary elections and were invited by the Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borissov to become the minority partner in the coalition government. But for months now, the leaders of the United Patriots have been infighting over who should run on the list for the European elections and in what order. As a party, on average, they were ranked 4th in the polls, on 6% of the votes. Standing together would have been the only chance they had to win seats at this election. However, the leaders of the three parties decided to register separately. The only one who still holds hopes and is polling around 5% is Bulgarian Deputy Prime Minister Krassimir Karakachanov’s IMRO party.


Croatia sits alongside Ireland, Romania and Portugal as one of the very few countries without a far-right populist party of note standing in the upcoming elections. 


Party to watch: National Popular Front (ELAM)

The far-right National Popular Front looks to be making significant gains with a polling average of 8.3%, up from the 2.7% they achieved in 2014. At the moment they look on course to win their first seat. The party has open connections with Golden Dawn in Greece, which it has described as a “brother movement”. 

Czech Republic 

Party to watch: Freedom and Direct Democracy Party (SPD)

Launched by Tomio Okamura in 2015, the SPD is an anti-immigrant far-right party that finished in fourth place in the 2017 parliamentary elections and the now holds 22 seats in the Czech Chamber of Deputies. This will be their first outing in European elections and they have already used it to build links with other similar parties across the continent. They have already hosted a meeting of the Movement for A Europe of Nations and Freedom in Prague which saw attendees from National Rally from France, the Freedom Party of Austria, Lega Nord from Italy and the Dutch Party for Freedom. At present, they are polling below the 5% electoral threshold to secure a seat. 


Party to watch: Danish People’s Party (DPP) 

At the 2014 European Elections this far-right populist party actually won the election with 26.6% of the vote, making them the largest party for the first time. This time around they are polling much lower at an average of 16.3% placing them in the 3rd spot which would get them just 2 MEPs. 


Party to watch: Conservative People’s Party of Estonia (EKRE) 

This far-right party with its seriously extreme youth wing, Blue Awakening, has had a good 2019 so far managing the largest gains during the parliamentary elections in March, increasing their seat count by 12, taking them to a total of 19. European election polls in Estonia have fluctuated and EKRE have polled as low as 11% and as high as 18% with a poll of poll average of 12.5%, leaving them in fourth place at the moment. 


Party to Watch: Finns Party (PS)

Finland had national elections in April and The Finns Party (formerly True Finns), a far-right populist party, surged in the final weeks of the race and took 17.5% of the vote, just 0.2% behind the winning Social Democrats. Current polling for the European election shows them on an average of 15%, placing them in 3rd position behind the Social Democrats and the National Coalition. However, turnout is expected to be very low in Finland.


Party to watch: Rassemblement National (RN)

Formerly the Front National, Marine Le Pen’s far-right Rassemblement National has been polling consistently between 20% and 24% with an average of 22.1% of the vote placing them neck and neck with Emmanuel Macron’s La République en Marche (REM). Both parties are well clear of The Republican’s in 3rd place, who are averaging 13.9% in polls. As it stands RN would win 20 MEP’s making them an influential party in the European Parliament and, alongside allies such as the Lega Nord in Italy, a real danger to progressive politics across the continent. 

Get our resources on the RN here


Party to watch: Alternative for Germany (AfD)

The AfD is an anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant party that has been on an increasingly extreme trajectory in recent years. After the 2017 federal elections in Germany the AfD became the third-largest party with 94 seats in the Bundestag. They are expected to do well at these elections, currently averaging 10.9% in the polls which would be a small increase from the 7.1% they received in 2014 and would net them around 11 seats. 

Get our resources on the AfD here


Party to watch: Golden Dawn 

Golden Dawn is an extreme far-right party, described by many as neo-nazi. Greece is continuing to experience difficult economic circumstances and has very high unemployment making it fertile ground for the far right. However, Golden Dawn has had several very difficult years with high-profile and damaging court cases following the murder of an anti-fascist in 2013. In the run-up to this election, the Athens Municipal council also voted to ban the party from using public spaces for pre-election rallies. The party is averaging 7.5% in the polls, which while extremely worrying, is down from the 9.4% they received in 2014. 


Party’s to watch: Fidesz 

The situation in Hungary is one of the most worrying in Europe with a far-right party currently topping the polls by some margin. The clear favourite for the European elections is Viktor Orbán’s authoritarian Fidesz party with a huge average of 52.4% in the polls. In second place at the moment, with an average of 14.2%, is Jobbik, a party with an extreme right-wing history that has, in recent years, embarked on a modernisation process that has seen them portray themselves with a much more moderate image, even attacking Orbán for isolating Hungary within the European Union. While very worrying it is worth noting that both Fidesz and Jobbik are polling roughly the same as they did in 2014. 


Ireland has its own unique political scene and the issue of Brexit and the so-called ‘backstop’ is likely to dominate the debate. However, the relatively new Irish Freedom Party has spent an estimated €40,000 on a billboard campaign that argues Ireland should leave the EU. 


Party to watch: Lega Nord 

Many in Europe will be watching Italy closely as the far-right League and its leader Matteo Salvini have become real figureheads for the European far-right. Salvini has spoken out about the need for far-right unity in the run up to the elections and has been forging alliances with the AfD, the Finns Party and the Danish People’s Party. In Italy, these elections will see competition between Salvini’s League and their current coalition partners, the populist Five Star Movement. At present, the League is averaging 33%, 10 points higher than the Five Star Movement. This goes to show the League’s rapid rise and ability to attract southern Italian supporters in recent years as they polled just 6.2% back in 2014. 


Party to watch: National Alliance (NA)

The National Alliance party, officially the National Alliance “All For Latvia!” – “For Fatherland and Freedom/LNNK” formed back in 2010 as an alliance between the right-wing LNNK and the far-right nationalist All for Latvia! party. They are currently average 10.5% in polls though one poll has placed them on 14%. As things stand they will receive 1 MEP. 


Party to watch: Order and Justice (TT)

The Order and Justice party can be hard to define but has been described as right-wing populist and far right by various commentators. It’s current MEPs sit in the Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy group in the EU. Current polls show them polling an average of 7.2%, placing them in 5th place which would see them loose one of their two seats. 


Unlike its European neighbours where anti-immigrant parties are doing well, the far-right has not yet made inroads of note in Luxembourg. 


Party to watch: Moviment Patrijotti Maltin 

Malta fits into the small handful of European countries with no far-right party of real note. However, they do have The Moviment Patrijotti Maltin which is a small far-right anti-immigration party that has failed to make electoral inroads and is polling at 0%. 


Party to watch: Forum for Democracy 

Founded in 2016, this new far-right populist party, led by Thierry Baudet, shocked Dutch politics when they won the most votes in the recent provincial elections. They will be hoping to emulate this success at the upcoming European elections. Their recent rise means they have eclipsed Geert Wilders Party for Freedom as the main force in Dutch populism. They are currently polling an average of 18.5% which would give them 6 seats while Wilders’ party is back on 5.5%. 


Party to watch: Law and Justice Party 

Poland’s ruling Law and Justice party is currently the favourite in the European race with some polls showing them on over 40% which would be a significant rise from the 31.8% they received in 2014. So far, they have campaigned on an anti-LGBTQ rights platform which could well split their opposition and pay dividends. 


Portugal has managed to buck the trend in Europe as far-right populism has generally failed to gain significant electoral support. These European elections will see the socialists and the social democrats fight it out for top spot. 


The European Parliament elections are taking place in Romania on Sunday 26 May. It is worth noting that Romania is currently hosting the presidency of the Council of the EU under the motto “cohesion, a common value of the EU”. While there is no radical or far-right party contesting these elections, nationalist and populist undertones are present in the rhetoric of some mainstream parties. The ruling party, the Social Democrats (PSD), are forecast to finish second after the National Liberal Party (PNL) after ongoing criticism of trying to amend the penal system to benefit the PSD leader, Liviu Drganea, and a failed referendum that tried to amend the constitution to say marriage is only the union between a man and a woman. For these same two reasons, the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe has distanced itself from ALDE Romania, the junior partner in the current ruling coalition with PSD. The populists (PMP), the party of the former Romanian President Traian Basescu, known for his Islamophobic and anti-Roma rhetoric, is most likely not going to make the electoral threshold so cannot secure any seats.


Party to watch: People’s Party Our Slovakia 

The People’s Party, led by Marian Kotleba, is a far-right party that many describe as extreme right and fascist. In April this year the Slovakian Supreme Court rejected a motion to dissolve the party for having fascist tendencies and thus violating the constitution. The court said the prosecutor did not back up the claims with enough evidence. They are currently expected to do well in these elections and are have a polling average of 10.9% which would land them with two seats in the European Parliament. 


Party to watch: Slovenian National Party 

The right-wing Slovenian Democrats are out in front in the polls and back in 6th place with an average of 9% in the polls is the far-right Slovenian National Party which would be enough for them to gain one seat. This would be significant for the party and see them rise from the 4% of the vote they received back in 2014. 


Party to watch: VOX 

In recent months VOX have caused much excitement amongst the international far-right and plenty of international media coverage after their worryingly impressive breakthrough display in April’s national elections. While the Socialists won the election, Vox, who used the slogan “Make Spain Great Again” and have run on a distinctively anti-feminist platform, won more than 10% of the vote, which gives them 24 seats; making them the first far-right party to win seats in Spain in decades. At present the polls for the European elections show them on a similar percentage which could mean they win around 6 MEPs. 


Party to watch: Sweden Democrats 

The far-right Swedish Democrats will try to exploit the recent political turmoil when it took longer than ever before to form a functioning government. While many had expected the party to join other major far-right parties in Europe it seems that Salvini has decided not to invite them to join his alliance. At present they are polling in 3rd position with a polling average of 15.6% which means they would win 3 MEPs. This is a significant rise from the 9.7% they received in 2014 however the party generally do worse in European elections than Swedish election. 

Get our resources on the Sweden Democrats here


Alternative for Germany (English)

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Chapter 3: Alternative for Germany (English)

The AfD is a far-right, anti-Muslim political party that launched in 2013. While it started off a populist Eurosceptic party it has, since 2015, become increasingly extreme. 

This downloadable and easily sharable fact-sheet gives an overview of what you need to know about the AfD and offers evidence of why we they should be opposed. 

From AfD politicians declaring “Islam is not part of Germany” to calling for the ban of headscarves and with ties to extremist groups like Generation Identity, PEGIDA and even having attracted people who are pro-nazi, it’s important that they are stopped in the election.

Don’t forget to share the fact-sheet and AfD video on social media!


Alternative für Deutschland (German)

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Chapter 4: Alternative für Deutschland (German)

Die AfD ist eine rechtsextreme und anti-muslimische Partei, die 2013 gegründet wurde. Sie begann als populistische Partei von Euro-Skeptikern, wurde aber seit 2015 zunehmend extremistischer.

Unser Factsheet über den antimuslimischen Rassismus der Alternative für Deutschland, das einen Überblick über die wichtigsten Aspekte gibt, die man über die AfD wissen sollte und Belege dafür liefert warum wir uns ihr entgegenstellen sollten. Das Factsheet kann heruntergeladen und leicht geteilt werden.

Von AfD-Politikern, die erklären der Islam gehöre nicht zu Deutschland bis zu Forderungen das Kopftuch zu verbieten, Verbindungen zu rechtsextremen Organisationen wie der Identitären Bewegung oder Pegida sowie einzelnen Personen, die offen die Ideologie der Nationalsozislisten unterstützen – all dies macht deutlich wie wichtig es ist, diese Partei jetzt bei den EU-Wahlen zurück zu drängen.

Vergessen sie nicht das fact-sheet und das video in den sozialen medien zu teilen!


Sweden Democrats (English)

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Chapter 5: Sweden Democrats (English)

Founded in 1988 by figures tied to the nazi movement in Sweden, the Sweden Democrats (SD) has since attempted to moderate its public image but it remains a far-right populist party. It is strongly anti-immigration and its representatives have continued to express anti-Muslim prejudice.

This downloadable and easily sharable fact-sheet gives an overview of what you need to know about the SD and offers evidence of why we they should be opposed. 

Be it the SD party leader calling the growing Muslim population Sweden’s “biggest foreign threat since the second world war”, cases of MPs arming themselves with iron pipes in street altercations whilst using anti-Muslim slurs, or revelations of party ties to nazi organisations, we cannot let the SD gain any ground in the election. 

Don’t forget to share the fact-sheet and SD video on social media!

Don’t forget to share the fact-sheet and SD video on social media!



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SD grundades 1988 av personer knutna till den svenska naziströrelsen. Sedan dess har de försökt mildra sin framtoning i offentligheten men de är fortfarande ett högerextremt populistparti. De är starkt invandringsfientliga och dess representanter fortsätter att uttrycka antimuslimska fördomar.

Detta nedladdningsbara faktablad är lätt att dela och ger en överblick på vad du behöver veta om SD, samt erbjuder anledningar till varför de bör motverkas.

SD’s partiledare har kallat den muslimska minoriteten för ”vårt största utländska hot sedan andra världskriget”, deras riksdagspolitiker har beväpnat sig med järnrör i gatubråk och använt rasistiska förolämpningar, och partiet har avslöjats ha kopplingar till nazistiska organisationer. Vi kan inte låta SD vinna mark i det kommande valet.

Glöm inte att dela faktabladet och videon i social media!


Rassemblement National (English)

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Chapter 7: Rassemblement National (English)

The Rassemblement National (RN) is a far-right, anti-Muslim political party that launched as the Front National in 1972. The party has extreme, fascist roots but under the leadership of Marine Le Pen it has attempted to ‘de-demonise’ its image, including renaming itself in 2018. However, the party remains extreme.

This downloadable and easily sharable fact-sheet gives an overview of what you need to know about the RN and offers evidence of why we they should be opposed.

From Le Pen comparing Muslims in France to Nazi occupation, to the party’s leading MEP candidate, Jordan Bardella, saying his home suburb had been “submerged by mass migration” after being asked about a far-right conspiracy theory propagated by the Christchurch mosque shooter (who had donated to Generation Identity, a group with ties to the RN), we must not let the RN gain ground.

Don’t forget to share the fact-sheet and RN video on social media!


Rassemblement National (French)

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Chapter 8: Rassemblement National (French)

Le Rassemblement National (RN) est un parti d’extrême droite anti Musulman qui fut lancé sous le nom du Front National en 1972. Le parti a des racines extrémistes et fascistes, mais il a tenté de se ‘dé-démoniser’ sous la direction de Marine Le Pen, y compris en changeant de nom en 2018. Cependant, le parti demeure extrémiste.

Cette fiche d’informations peut être téléchargée et elle est facile à  partager. Elle contient un aperçu de ce qu’il faut savoir du RN et offre des explications de la raison pour laquelle nous pensons qu’il faille l’opposer.

De Marine Le Pen comparant les Musulmans en France à l’occupation nazie, au candidat RN de premier plan aux élections européennes, Jordan Bardella, qui a dit que son quartier était « submergé par l’immigration de masse » après avoir été interrogé sur une conspiration d’extrême droite propagée par le tireur de l’attentat sur les mosquées de Christchurch (tireur qui avait fait une donation à Génération Identitaire, un groupe qui a des liens avec le RN) – nous ne devons pas laisser le RN gagner du terrain.  

N’oublie pas de partager la fiche d’informations et la vidéo sur les réseaux sociaux !


Europe’s Romani minority: Underrepresentation and structural discrimination

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Chapter 9: Europe’s Romani minority: Underrepresentation and structural discrimination

Gwendolyn Albert from Romani news outlet ROMEA writes about the current climate for Romani people in Europe and the already difficult challenge of making member states to make Romani inclusion a priority.

Following the increasing influence of far-right ideas and parties across the EU since the last European Parliament election, numerous changes in response to that pressure are being proposed across the political spectrum in the runup to next week’s elections. One such idea is that it is high time for candidates and other public figures of Romani origin to publicly embrace their ethnicity instead of choosing to not discuss it with their fellow European citizens.

Members of Europe’s Romani minority are not monolithic politically – and many unfortunately still live in conditions of statelessness that make it impossible for them to vote – but some of those able to cast their ballots have been increasingly focusing, in their activism and analysis, on the gap between the EU’s promise and the less than effective (and sometimes downright discriminatory) use that has been made of its social cohesion funds to date with respect to the continent’s Romani citizens. After decades of Romani civil society struggle, the European Commission seems to be shaping up to be a potential force for good as far as members of the Romani minority are concerned. The coming elections will determine whether that trend continues.

You can’t buy equality

According to the Roma Civil Monitor reports produced for the European Commission by the Center for Policy Studies at Central European University (which has recently been forced to leave Hungary by the Orbán Government), the Member State programmes deploying social cohesion funding for the integration of Romani communities can be classified along two different conceptual axes. The first axis involves whether a country approaches Romani citizens and residents through the lens of safeguarding their rights or whether it approaches them through the lens of their socioeconomic disadvantage – for some reason, both of these very important aims are conceptualized as in opposition to each other. The second axis has to do with whether Romani people should be specifically targeted by social cohesion programmes, or whether broader programmes of general social uplifting will reach them as well as others who are marginalized. 

While the EU’s Roma Framework has attempted to guide Member State policy, the implementation of the Member States’ integration strategies for Romani communities is unhelpfully politicized in most of them – in other words, where aid perceived as benefiting the Roma will cost votes, it tends to either never flow at all, or to flow but to be cynically abused. Those Member States that fail to integrate other EU citizens well, including Roma citizens, tend to exclude all such persons from the labour market, public services and social assistance. Moreover, countries such as Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Greece and Hungary almost exclusively use just EU funds to implement their Roma inclusion policies without adding national funds or making any long term efforts to change national policy.

Effectively sending bureaucrats and officials the not-so-subtle message that while Romani integration may be currently in EU fashion, “this too, shall pass”.

It is thus not surprising that the European Commission, despite the relatively large influence it has wielded through this funding, has noted significant problems with the continuity of national Romani inclusion policies. It has also launched infringement proceedings against the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia over their failure to uphold the EU Race Equality Directive with respect to the discrimination and segregation of Romani children in education from the beginning of their school careers in all those countries.

The fact that Roma have been formally recognized by some (but by no means all) EU Member States as national minorities has not meant that Romani representatives have also been elected to European, national, regional or local office in numbers anywhere near proportionate to the size of their communities. Moreover, even becoming a MEP in the early 2000s was not enough, for example, to keep Romani community member Viktoria Mohacsi safe from specifically antigypsyist death threats in Hungary. She was eventually granted political asylum by Canada last year. Indeed, mobilization of antigypsyist sentiments has been crucial to the recent democratic decline in that particular Member State.

Romani community member Zeljko Jovanovic, Director of the Open Society Roma Initiatives Office, recently issued a carefully reasoned appeal for Romani voters to make their influence felt in the European Parliament elections. “We know that EU funds have not drastically improved the lives of Roma,” he acknowledged in a recent opinion piece. “But they are still more than what governments have been willing to provide from national budgets. The European elections could bring to power more of those politicians who would simply cut off EU funds for Roma, which means we would have no public support at all for our communities – in other words, we would be back to the hardships of the 1990s.”

How do you translate “antigypsyism”?

Roma representation in the European Parliament so far has ranged across the political spectrum. On the left, Soraya Post of Sweden’s Feminist Party has used her time in office to press for a Truth and Reconciliation Commission on Europe’s history of antigypsyism. On the right, EP Vice-Chair Livia Jaroka of Hungary has tended to downplay complaints from grassroots Roma around Europe about the myriad ways local and national governments have targeted them for practices that violate their rights.

Meanwhile, Brussels-based NGOs such as the European Roma Information Office are launching English-language social media campaigns (#RomaPolitician, #RomaVoter and #RomaUseYourVote) to encourage Roma voter turnout. These messages may indeed further empower the educated Romani elite and their allies, but the degree to which such encouragement – or political education as such – filters through to the Romani citizens who are the worst off is debatable. Moreover, as the increasing Romani social media presence in Europe’s many languages demonstrates, there is no doubt that some Romani voters may also be tempted to cast their ballots for unsavory candidates whose platforms revolve around homophobic or other illiberal sentiments.

Finally, it has long been an axiom of those who follow Romani issues that there are probably far more Romani politicians already active at all levels of government throughout Europe than its citizens are aware of. The antigypsyist stigma associated with Romani identity makes it expedient for those whose skin color allows them to pass as non-Roma to do so.

The tide may be turning, however. There may be many more politicians in Europe than we realize who are like Carlos Miguel, Portugal’s Secretary of State for Local Authorities

who has a decades-long career in local government service to draw on, who does not hesitate to discuss his ethnicity openly, and who encourages other Romani candidates to do so. In this regard it will be interesting to see whether those politicians who have been brave enough to use #RomaPolitician in their social media feeds during the EP contest will be ultimately hampered or helped by identifying themselves as such.

Gwendolyn Albert is a human rights activist and ally of the Romani minority. She lives in Prague, Czech Republic.

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The ‘Renaissance’ of Europe’s Far-right Party Youth Wings

Away from the public eye, the youth-wings of Europe’s far-right parties are collaborating and have some very concerning ties

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Chapter 10: The ‘Renaissance’ of Europe’s Far-right Party Youth Wings

David Quadri is the Foreign Spokesman of Lega Giovani, the youth-wing of Italy’s Lega Nord party. Since 2018, Quadri has made a concerted effort to mobilise and ally the youth branches of far-right EU parties, and has even brokered connections to those of parties outside of Europe.

Yet, what is concerning about Quadri’s apparent leadership of this effort is not just his party’s politics, but his – and other youth-wings’ – proximity to the extremes of the international far right .


Quadri met with a number of youth-wings in 2018 and likewise now into 2019, whilst others have followed suit and attended meetings of party youth branches across Europe in anticipation of this year’s European Parliament elections. In June 2018, for example, a number of these groups were represented at a conference on regionalism held in Dinslaken, Germany, organised by the Alternative fur Deutschland’s (AfD) ‘Junge Alternative’.

In Dinslaken (left to right): Unknown, David Avocado, David Quadri, Anian Liebrand (former President of the Swiss People’s Party youth-wing, Junge SVP), Bart Claes, Nathan Ryding, Sven Tritschler (Deputy Chairman at AfD North Rhine-Westphalia, former Federal Junge Alternative Chairman).

Later, in November 2018, David Avocado (Junge Alternative Spokesman), Bart Claes (President of the Belgian Vlaams Belang (VB) youth-wing, VB Jongeren) and Quadri visited the UK for the UKIP Young Independence (YI) conference in Worcester, England, though were simply put down as “International Speakers” on the event’s Facebook page. Speaking about the three visitors, YI National Chairman Nathan Ryding said, “This shows exactly the kind of relationships we need to build. As youth-wings all across Europe, Eurosceptic, patriotic, youth-wings we need to build [such] relationships”.

Left to right: Ryding, Avocado, Claes and Quadri

On 29 March 2019, Quadri coordinated a meeting of youth-wing leaders in Rome, entitled ‘The Renaissance of European Youth’. The event saw Quadri and Lega Giovani’s Andrea Crippa alongside YI Adam Wood, VB Jongeren’s Bart Claes, Junge Alternative’s Damian Lohr and two further youth-wing’s represented, through Maximilian Krauss of the Austrian Freedom Party’s Freheitliche Jugend and Jordan Bardella, the leading MEP candidate of the Rassemblement National and the leader of their youth-wing, Generation Nation.

Notably, as Le Parisien’s Alexandre Sulzer reported, in attendance was Frédéric Châtillon, who has been dubbed one of Marine Le Pen’s “Men in the Shadows” by the French press and who is her longtime “friend and confidant”. Châtillon, who lives in Rome and who led the fascist Groupe Union Défense as a student, was banned from working with the Le Pen’s Rassemblement National in certain capacities in 2017 after charges relating to party financing, though he still appears to maintain connections.

Sulzer also reported that the invitation to the meeting had also been extended to the youth-wings of Poland’s Law and Justice party, Forum Młodych Prawo i Sprawiedliwość (FM PiS) and Russia’s Molodaya Gvardiya (MG), youth-wing of the country’s ruling party, United Russia. Despite this, Quadri and Crippa had met with MG members Serghei Perepelov and Egor Litvinenko in Moscow in November 2018 to sign a memorandum of cooperation.

More recently, Krauss of the Austrian Freedom Party’s youth wing has extended efforts at collaboration to the youth-wing of Hungary’s ruling Fidesz party, ‘Fidelitas’. In April 2019 Krauss met with Fidelitas’ Foreign Coordinator, Marton Veisz in Vienna, in the first meeting of the two groups.

Extremist Links

Quadri and Lega Giovani appear to have made one explicit effort to interact with extremist links recently, meeting with little-known Irish vlogger Rowan Croft AKA ‘Grand Torino’ in Italy this year, where he interviewed them for his channel and made multiple videos extolling his support for the party.

Croft has previously interviewed the likes of far-right figure Jim Dowson alongside Hermann Kelly of the Irexit Party in December 2018, ex-Rebel Media vlogger Caolan Robertson alongside Damhnait McKenna of the Irish branch of the racial separatist youth movement, Generation Identity, in November 2018, and Simon Roche of the South African white nationalist Suidlanders group, who took part in the 2017 Charlottesville Unite the Right rally and whose group did firearms training with AfD politician, Petr Bystron, in December 2018.

Left to right: Alessandro Verri (Lega Giovani), Quadri and Croft

Yet, what is more worrying is a less public, but no less extreme close connection between Quadri and the international far right. This year saw the third annual ‘Etnofutur’ conference in Tallin, Estonia on 23 February, organised by Blue Awakening, the youth-wing of the far-right Conservative People’s Party of Estonia (EKRE) which now sits in the country’s coalition government. The event featured speakers from across the European far right, two US white nationalists – Greg Johnson and Jared Taylor – and Olena Semenyaka of the neo-nazi Ukrainian organisation, Azov Battalion. The day following attendees took part in a torchlit procession in the city that Blue Awakening have organised to coincide with Estonia’s Independence Day.

Ruuben Kaalep, Blue Awakening Chairman and an EKRE City Councillor (also recently pictured with Rassemblement National leader Marine Le Pen), spoke at the conference and has appeared at other far-right conferences alongside the international far right recently, including the Prabudimas conference in Vilnius, Lithuania which HOPE not hate exposed, where Johnson and Taylor also spoke as well as a representative of Azov Battalion.

Kaalep (centre) alongside fellow Blue Awakening members

Whilst we cannot be sure that Quadri attended the Etnofutur conference, he is down as attending the EKRE/Blue Awakening’s procession event page on Facebook, and in a post on Instagram tagged Jaak Madison, former Blue Awakening Chairman and now EKRE MP and party Deputy Chairman, who had advertised the procession in February 2019, suggesting he also planned to attend.

Too Close for Comfort

Second from the left, Alessio Ercoli, the Biella, Italy Provincial Coordinator for Lega Giovani, fourth from the right, Davide Quadri

A core motivation of this youth-wing alliance appears to be the ensured continuation of the wider party alliances between far-right populist parties across Europe and the globe that has grown in recent years.

Alessio Ercoli, Provincial Coordinator for Lega Giovani in Biella, Italy, told Italian paper Luinotizie, following a December 2018 meeting of Lega Giovani and Generation Nation, that they are working with others to change the EU in the interest of protecting “homelands” and how this mission resonated further afield with the political developments in the “US, Russia and Brazil”.

Whilst we should, of course, be concerned in the immediate period with the leadership and main ranks of Europe’s far-right parties – the likes of Le Pen and Salvini – we should not lose sight of those who may soon enter the mainstream political fray. Generation Nation leader Jordan Bardella, for example, is also the Rassemblement National’s leading MEP candidate in the European Parliament election. This is the same Bardella who, after being asked about the “great replacement” conspiracy theory cited by the Christchurch killer, merely replied that his home suburb was “submerged by mass migration … by Islamist fundamentalism … [and that] there is a substitution of population.”

Salvini, Ercoli and Lega Nord Transport Minister Armando Siri, March 2018

Moreover, party leaders are clear in their support for these up-and-coming faces of the European far right and their efforts to unite the youth. Ercoli, a graduate from Scualo di Formazione Politica, a six-day political training course in Milan run by Lega Nord’s Salvini and Transport Minister Armando Siri, was well-received by Marine Le Pen and Rassemblement National General Secretary Nicolas Bay MEP in a meeting with Generation Nation in Savoy, France in March 2019.

Such support of these young party activists and their networking should cause greater concern. Be it Ercoli, who alongside Quadri met with the far-right Irish anti-Muslim party, Identity Ireland, when its representatives visited Italy in January 2019, to Quadri himself and his ties to the international far right, or the aforementioned Bardella and his worrying comments about Christchurch, if these will be the leaders of an impending far-right bloc in Europe, we must pay more attention to their extremist ties and efforts to continue this bloc into the future.

Ercoli and Quadri (first and second on the left) with Identity Ireland activists in January 2019
Ercoli (centre, behind the Catalan flag) pictured alongside fellow activists holding the alt-right associated ‘Kekistan’ flag, 2018


The Italian Far-Right Today: "Community", Conspiracy & Dangerous Opportunities

The current political establishment and generational concerns pose a real risk of the Italian extreme far right to further spread their hate.

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Chapter 11: The Italian Far-Right Today: "Community", Conspiracy & Dangerous Opportunities

In Italy, neo-fascist, neo-nazi and far-right groups – such as Forza Nuova, CasaPound, and Lealtà Azione – aim to provide representation to chunks of society abandoned by other political forces, including significant shares of the newest generation. The issues they campaign on are the social issues which are of bigger concern to the young. Their efforts on the ground are directed to working-class areas where there has been a failure of the traditional left, where the decline in schools and educational infrastructure, for example, is more apparent. They also engage in modern styles of communication and have infiltrated online spaces and music subcultures, the latter being increasingly used to make inroads into the younger generations.

It would be a serious mistake to take comfort in the poor election results achieved by the far right in the 2018 Italian general election; broader existing opportunities, spaces for the far right, trends in their favour and their projects must be taken into proper account. Moreover, there were a few peaks in the election for them. In the Lazio region, CasaPound made it past 3% of the vote in three key towns, achieved 1.86% in the province of Rome – that is over 40,000 votes. The same can be said for a number of local elections in 2017, where CasaPound – far more effective than Forza Nuova in the polls – gained a resounding 8% in Lucca and 5% in Todi.

From “Community” to Conspiracy: Shared Ideas and Practices of the Italian Far Right Today

Far-right groups and parties in Italy today share a number of common concepts. This includes the rejection of a multicultural, multi-ethnic society, in favour of the idea of “community” defined along ethnic lines (often tied to traditional far-right ideas of “blood and soil”). At an organisational level, what is also crucial to the concept of community here is the great importance the Italian far right place on the creation of offshoot organizations from core parties or activist groups, be they involved in animal welfare, mountaineering, sports, women’s issues, food banks and much else. This model or organising is designed to enhance the core group’s outreach, particularly among the young, by exploiting concerns about social or cultural issues. The hostile worldview underpinning these efforts of “community” building extends beyond ethnicity, as is clear in the Italian far-right’s moralising about society more generally. In the public sphere this can be seen in their talk of parties’ and politicians’ corruption and, in the private sphere, for example, in their railing against homosexual “degeneracy”, “unnatural” civil unions and the “gender ideology” of LGBT+ movements more broadly.

Similarly, as attacks on these groups, immigrants are often spoken of in relation to paranoid conspiracy theories that argue the real powers that be ruling the world are concealed and operate a well-planned scheme, devised by a restricted group of people, to bring in masses of people to the West. In recent years, the Italian and European far right in general has developed a strong interest in what is considered a specific plot, the ‘Kalergi plan’. This idea marks a sort of evolution of the traditional Protocols of the Elders of Zion-type antisemitic conspiracy theory. The Kalergi plan is an increasingly popular strain of the white genocide conspiracy theory, which alleges that there is a deliberate plan to undermine European white society by a campaign of mass immigration, integration and miscegenation conducted by (often argued by the far right to be Jewish) elites. The work of Austrian politician and author Richard von Coudenhove-Kalergi (1894–1972), which was inspired by totally different intentions, was distorted to present it as a “plan” that would explain immigration as a conspiracy, for example, by Austrian neo-nazi Holocaust denier Gerd Honsik in a 2005 publication.

A Dangerous Opportunity

The overarching analysis offered by the Italian far right today can be put thus: The ruling elites are controlled by the left, that wish to impose a globalised world. Hence, the need to stand up for the “white poor”, which is being made the target of “class hate”. The Italian far right believe they have a right to “stand by the people”, and represent the working class and those who have been left behind in society.

Importantly, its response is to pose as a revolutionary force, standing by the young and the (solely, in their concern, white) lower strata of society, and are thus distinctly anti-establishment, anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist, against the financial elites, and the powers that be. The current government in Rome is seen by the Italian neo-fascist, neo-nazi and extreme far right as an opportunity to penetrate political circles and institutions that have traditionally been off-limits for them. In the words of the leader of Forza Nuova, Roberto Fiore: “What the Lega and – in part – the 5 Star Movement stand for is our programme. They, however, are not wearing a black shirt”.

This is a guest post by the Osservatorio Democratico Sulle Nuove Destre.
You can follow their work here:


Salvini gathers leaders of the European far right in Milan

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Chapter 12: Salvini gathers leaders of the European far right in Milan

Patrik Hermansson covered the first public appearance of Matteo Salvini’s far-right alliances ahead of the European Parliament elections.

Twelve leaders of radical and far-right parties gathered in Milan this weekend in front of crowds estimated to number 25,000. Although the parties have collaborated in for many years, this was the first public gathering of the alliance formed on an initiative Lega’s’ Matteo Salvini ahead of this week’s elections. The group aims to form a joint group in the European Parliament. HOPE not hate observed the rally on the ground and saw a worrying international convergence of nativist leaders who in many cases used clearly far-right rhetoric. “We must secure the future of our land and children”, Geert Wilders told the crowd.

A large stage had been put up on one side of Piazza del Duomo in central Milan, Salvini’s home town and one of the centres of support for Lega. The square and its cathedral are popular tourist attractions but it had been cordoned off by police ahead of the rally. Banners on the stage read “Stop! Bureaucrats, Bankers, Do-gooders”, otherwise most screens and banners displayed pictures of Salvini’s face or his name. Screens ran interviews and clips of the party leader taking selfies with voters on previous rallies across the country, while images or names of actual candidates in the upcoming European Parliament election was difficult to make out. It wouldn’t be unreasonable to think this was a campaign rally for Salvini himself, who has increasingly taken on a strong man role in the party, nicknamed “Il Capitano” by his supporters.

Welcomed by chants of his name from the crowd, Salvini said he wanted to “free the continent from the illegal occupation orchestrated in Brussels”, and that Europe had been betrayed by the “Merkels, the Macrons, the Soroses and the Junckers who built a Europe based on finance and uncontrolled migration.” The audience chanted “Matteo, Matteo, Matteo” in response.

Salvini’s Lega is doing well. The party dropped “Nord” from its branding in late 2017 and simply started calling itself Lega, an all-Italy nationalist party rather than a secessionist one. It has since soared in popularity and at the time of writing is polling at 31 percent, up from a result of 17 percent of the votes in the 2018 election in both of the country’s parliamentary houses. This opens up the possibility of a Lega-led government with Salvini as Prime Minister, potentially leaving the Five Star Movement outside completely. The relationship between the two parties – who are currently in a government coalition – is strained. The parties are united in their anti-EU stance, but differ on both immigration and economic policies. The Five Star Movement has campaigned on the introduction of a guaranteed basic income for the poor while one of Lega’s key policies is a 15 percent flat tax.

Although the weather was rainy, the crowd nearly filled Piazza del Duomo to listen to Salvini and his European partners. Among those there were Marine Le Pen of France’s Rassemblement National and Geert Wilders of the Dutch Party for Freedom. Alternative for Germany (AfD), Belgium’s Vlaams Belang (VB), Estonia’s EKRE and the Danish People’s Party (DPP) had all sent their main MEP candidates and central party figures, Jörg Meuthen (AfD), Gerolf Annemans (VB), Jaak Madison (EKRE) and Anders Vistisen (DPP). Representatives from Slovakias Sme Rodina, Austrian Freedom Party, Finland’s True Finns, Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD) from Czech Republic and Volya from Bulgaria also addressed the rally.

Marine Le Pen

A march from another part of the city, also organised by Lega, ended in front of the 14th-century cathedral where crowds had gathered for several hours. The police presence was big and everyone who wanted to enter the rally was frisked and bags were checked. After holding a short speech, Salvini introduced the international guests one after another. The first speakers just received a few minutes while the big names, Wilders, Le Pen and himself, were given much longer.

It quickly became clear that it was primarily Salvini, rather than the European guests that had attracted most of the audience. The first speaker, Veselin Mareshki from Bulgaria’s Volya party, impressed the crowd by speaking Italian, while Boris Kollár of Sme Rodina’s admittance that he wasn’t proficient in the crowd’s native language received a cold response. Soon after, EKRE’s representative, Jaak Madison, also noticed the crowd’s impatience with the various speakers’ use of English and said he would go off-script only to exclaim that “Juncker, he should come to Italy and learn from Matteo Salvini how to protect our countries, our nationalities” and soon after ended his short speech.

The themes of the speeches were predictable and consistent. All focused on immigration and the supposed destruction of Christian, European values and the sovereignty of nations by current European elites. Tomio Okamura from Czech Freedom and Direct Democracy  said that Europeans could either choose “freedom and sovereignty of our peoples” or “leave the power to those who plan [the] extinction of nation states.” Much of the anti-EU rhetoric was focused on those made out to be the instigators of this “extinction”; repeated mentions of “Juncker”, “Macron”, and “Merkel” were met with jeers from the crowd.

Salvini and Le Pen were the only speakers that had a significant amount of time on stage and both emphasized the Christian heritage of European nations and attacked globalisation time and time again. “We’re under threat from wild globalisation ”, Le Pen said before adding “our Europe is the daughter of Athens and Rome, of Christianity and the Enlightenment”. Salvini repeated a motto familiar to his supporters, calling for “A Europe of common sense”.

Geert Wilders speech was comparatively (though, predictably) more anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant. “We have to stop Islamisation” and “No more ships with illegal migrants” were two of his statements that received the strongest response from the crowd. Showing his support for the new, gathered alliance, he told the crowd that “Europe needs more Salvinis”.

A success for Salvini’s project is far from certain, however. Salvini’s counterparts in Europe tend not to get along. Notable but expected absences were Viktor Orbán or any representative from Fidesz, as well as Poland’s Law and Justice. Orban has previously said that he’s uninterested to work with Marine Le Pen while Law and Justice differs from Salvini and Le Pen’s pro-Russian stances, which is also one of the reasons the Leader of the Sweden Democrats last month expressed disappointment that the Danish People’s Party and the True Finns had joined Salvini’s alliance.

Salvini has pulled Lega decisively to the far right since taking over the leadership, harshening anti-immigration and anti-EU rhetoric and even citing Mussolini. He made the party worryingly successful and simultaneously gained support by the mainstream as well as attracted votes from other far-right parties. The crowd at the rally was mixed, with families and elderly people as well as youth that cheered to the anti-immigration and anti-EU speeches. However, there was a small minority that clearly expressed more extreme points of view. Some supporters were seen making nazi salutes on multiple occasions.

Despite the far-right rhetoric, there was no open presence of other Italian far-right organisations at the rally. Parties like fascist Forza Nuova and CasaPound are now more clearly competing for Lega’s voters (although Lega and Forza Nuova have collaborated on local levels). The Forza Nuova party held their own separate demonstration just a few hundred meters away, right after Lega’s rally had ended, where a speech by leader Roberto Fiore likewise emphasised the “betrayal” of the people by EU elites.


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