Are Europe’s fundamental values endangered by the expanded far-right representation in the European Parliament? The appointment of Udo Voigt, former leader of the National Democratic Party of Germany (NPD), to a seat on the European Parliament’s Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee has intensified concerns about the impact the election of more far right MEPs is having on democracy in the EU.
Voigt received a suspended prison sentence for inciting racial hatred during the 2006 World Cup in Germany, is on record praising Adolf Hitler and has downplayed the numbers killed in the Holocaust.
The European Network Against Racism says the expanded far-right presence after the European Parliament elections in May “threatens the core European values of human rights and equality” and has called for a strong response from the Parliament.
How dangerous is the presence of the far right in the European Parliament? And what should be done about it?
One of our commenters, Afroditi from Greece, said a leading factor behind the growth of extremist parties was failure of governing parties and institutions to improve financial social conditions. If they did that, she said, “the far right would disappear by itself.”
What is the best way for the political mainstream to respond to the far right? Will extremists fade away when economic conditions improve? Or are such parties so dangerous that action needs to be taken to limit their activities?
We recently received a couple of comments from Pedro who said the election of far right politicians to the European Parliament presented a real danger to democracy:
These issues need to be addressed, urgently, at a European level to prevent the repetition of dark past events in European history.
We put Pedro’s point to Peter Neumann, Director of the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation, King’s College London, and asked if he agreed:
What do you think? Is the rising support for the extreme-right a flash in the pan? Will divisions between far-right groups neutralize their impact at a European level? Or does the political establishment need to take action? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below, and we’ll take them to policy-makers and experts for their reactions.