What does “far-right” mean? Is it defined purely by street violence, skinheads and Nazi salutes? Or can populist radical right political parties also be accurately described as being on the far-right of the political spectrum? Much of their political rhetoric is, after all, often strikingly similar to the “old far-right”, even if their methods may be different. Today they wear smart suits instead of jackboots.

In Germany, the Alternative for Deutschland (AfD) party’s rhetoric has been described as being “tinged with Nazi overtones”. Yet they were being described as “kingmakers” earlier this month after a shock state election result, following which Angela Merkel’s CDU accepted their support (causing the subsequent resignation of the CDU’s national party leader and public condemnation from Chancellor Merkel herself).

Far-right populism has reached the mainstream. According to some analysts, three of the largest democracies in the world (India, the US, and Brazil) now have far-right populist leaders. Radical right-wing populists have experience in government in several EU Member States, either alone or in coalition with other parties. Has the far-right changed politics?

What do our readers think? We had a comment from Imposant arguing that far-right parties are redefining Europe’s political landscape by forcing traditional parties to adopt far-right policies. Is he right?

To get a reaction, we spoke to German Green MEP Hannah Neumann. What would she say?

For another perspective, we also spoke to Patrick Fels, who works for the non-governmental organisation Mobile Counselling against Rightwing Extremism (MBR) at the National Socialism Documentation Centre of the City of Cologne. How would he respond to Imposant’s comment?

I don’t think we can make such a broad generalisation. It’s certainly true that far-right parties are influencing the public debate and shifting what is acceptable to say further and further. In certain countries, where these parties are already in office, we can indeed say that they influence politics. Of course, if they are in government, then they are determining policies. But in other countries, where they are in opposition or don’t play such a big role, it might look different. One would have to look more closely at individual countries to give a precise answer. I find the statement a bit too general.

Next up, we had a comment sent in from Giannis, who thinks mainstream politics is also changing the far-right. After all, Giannis argues, far-right parties have been part of coalition governments in many EU countries for years now. Might the danger from the far-right be reduced by their transformation into serious political parties, forcing them to confront the challenges and compromises of government?

We also put the same comment to Patrick Fels from the counter-extremism organisation MBR. What would he say?

Giannis is also asking a very general question. Here, it would again be necessary to examine individual political parties and politicians. Needless to say, there are many ‘disappointed conservatives’ who turn to the far-right, whose earlier convictions might potentially influence the far-right. Then you might say: ‘Ok, then maybe the far-right will become more moderate’, but it’s also possible for them abandon all their earlier beliefs and turn instead to the far-right. Interactions between the [far-right and centre-right] can certainly go both ways. But, again, I would say it would be necessary to specify a particular country, party or politician.

Are far-right parties redefining Europe’s political landscape? Or are the far-right being forced to adapt to traditional politics? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!

IMAGE CREDITS: BigStock – (c) tinx; PORTRAIT CREDITS: Patrick Fels (c) ibs


27 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. avatar
    Любомир

    Nowadays having even a drop of patriotism and some common sense is labeled as “far-right”. Yet the peoples of Europe are slowly awakening and speaking up against the utopian, globalist and anti-European dream some bureaucrats and corporations would like us to live in.

    • avatar
      Raquel

      what fuck dude no! This is regarding the return of nazi parties that want segregation due colour or nationality

    • avatar
      Bódis

      Marxism hates and fights against naitions, customs and traditions, the family, religion, and eternal values. Not just “capital”.
      What we witness in the West is a slow and gradual takeover of liberalism by marxism.
      Marxism is really destructive for any society.

    • avatar
      Любомир

      @Raquel
      Where are those nazi parties dude? I don’t see any. If you see any patriot and nationalist as a nazi, then the problem is in your way of viewing things. Wanting sensible immigration laws and rules and protecting your homeland from a demographic catastrophe doesn’t make you a nazi. Wanting to conquer the world and to exterminate people based on their race or ethnicity makes you a nazi. I think those two things are very different, don’t you?

    • avatar
      Raquel

      Bro do you realise that there is an centre and many parties between nazism and Marxism. Right?

    • avatar
      Bódis

      Cultural marxism is not communism.
      WE is full of policies and trends that reflect marxist values without having communism.

    • avatar
      Raquel

      Bódis Kata Well still I’m just offering option besides nazism to the “boogyman” to people that are afraid of it.

    • avatar
      Dean Ekman

      This is more of a reaction to the overreach of inter- and multi-national organizations and their economic and regulatory challenges to national laws, electorates and borders. Calling it “far right” is inaccurate and an oversimplification that ignores the wishes of individual countries and their Citizens.

  2. avatar
    Bódis

    No, it’s the neo-maxists.

  3. avatar
    Vassiliki

    Are parties defining politics or people?… Are parties all the people in Europe? Regarding the European Union, it started as a group of countries whose politicians saw that the WWI and WWII came from unfair and undeserved financial and political affairs. With U.K out and a string of laws that make no sense regarding agriculture and policies of foreign affairs we are totally out of our initial goal. Are politicians working for the good of ALL people of Europe and European Union?… I believe that is the question here.

  4. avatar
    Debating Europe

    We reserve the right to remove any content that we deem to be offensive without adding anything to the debate. We will not tolerate racism, sexism, homophobia or other forms of hate-speech!

  5. avatar
    Zdravko

    Yes, because the European working class has been betrayed by the socialists and other so called leftists in favor of third world voters and the castrated neoliberal governments didn’t do anything to help.
    What other option does that leave us?
    In an emasculated political arena filled with big words and small actions, an option which is even slightly out of the accepted mainstream is seen as radical while in my opinion the most radical option in this fast changing world is the commitment to status quo.

    • avatar
      Vassiliki

      How about not having any right or left or central wing parties? How about reconstructing things so that we have prudence, liability, responsibility rule…

  6. avatar
    Jeroen

    The far left is more a problem than the far right.

  7. avatar
    Rajesh

    yes because everybody else has failed.

    • avatar
      Thomas

      When in European history has the far-right ever not failed?

  8. avatar
    Max

    Are the media helping them out by giving them tons of disproportionate coverage and free attention?
    That’s the real question

  9. avatar
    Maria

    I hope so. Leftists are Killing EU.
    This has nothing to do with hate speech. I am not racist, or homophobic, and I am tired of being Judged, by the caviar elite.

  10. avatar
    Enric

    The EU should be free of politics and go back to only economical union, leaving political affers to each country, otherwise the people will turn to the right.

    • avatar
      Vassiliki

      But E.U. Started from political affairs. The countries led to war and you cannot escape the obvious. Politics go hand in hand with finance.

    • avatar
      Daniel

      You mean Germany led to war.

    • avatar
      Enric

      Generaly, if the economy is good and the people satisfied, wars are rare, unless some idiot thinks is Messiah or a foreign power inteeferes.

    • avatar
      Vassiliki

      Germany led the war… the countries (were) led to war.

  11. avatar
    Ana

    please explain where to find economy without policy, and policy without economy? You seem to be old enough to know better!

  12. avatar
    Anatilde

    Far right does not have a major part on our policies, thus doesn’t weight on us for now. I do think alot of people seem to be a bit frustrated with their situation, and they choose to blame de EU, when really they should be blaming their own system.
    Delete, hide or report this

  13. avatar
    Craig

    Yesterday’s mainstream opinion is tomorrow’s unconscionable hate speech.

  14. avatar
    catherine benning

    Are far-right parties redefining Europe’s political landscape?

    Far left parties are redefining Europes political landscape and without the knowledge and permission of the democratic rights of the citizens of the European people. Not simply those in the EU.

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