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How Far Is Europe Swinging to the Right?


Poland’s right-wing Law and Justice party roared back into the government by winning 39 percent of the national vote in the 2015 parliamentary elections.

The party was founded in 2001 by Lech Kaczynski and his identical twin, Jaroslaw. Law and Justice first won power in 2005. Lech became president and Jaroslaw, eventually, his prime minister.

In 2010, Lech Kaczynski and much of Poland’s top leadership died in a plane crash while landing at an airport near Smolensk, Russia. Jaroslaw Kaczynski, who was not on the plane, is now leading Poland’s shift rightward as the party leader.


A banner showing the Law and Justice Party leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski at a demonstration for free media in Warsaw in January. Kacper Pempel/Reuters

Viktor Orban and his right-wing Fidesz party, running on a joint list with the K.D.N.P., a Christian Democratic party, have won the last two parliamentary elections in Hungary, worrying many Western leaders about his increasingly authoritarian rule. The party also decisively won in voting for the European Parliament in May 2014.

Jobbik, a far-right, anti-immigration, populist and economic protectionist party, won 20 percent of the vote in parliamentary elections in 2014, making it Hungary’s third-largest party.

Its policy platform includes holding a referendum on membership in the European Union and a call to “stop hushing up such taboo issues” as “the Zionist Israel’s efforts to dominate Hungary and the world.”

Jobbik wants to increase government spending on ethnic Hungarians living abroad and to form a new ministry dedicated to supporting them. In a 2012 bill targeting homosexuals, the party proposed criminalizing the promotion of “sexual deviancy” with prison terms of up to eight years.

In late April, the party’s leader, Gabor Vona, said Jobbik would remove half its leadership board; some analysts saw the move as an attempt to purge the party’s most extremist elements before a bid to become Hungary’s governing party by 2018 71

The far-right Sweden Democrats party, which has disavowed itsroots in the white-supremacist movement, won about 13 percent of the vote in elections in September 2014, which gave it 49 of the 349 seats in Parliament.

Because none of the mainstream parties would form a coalition with the Sweden Democrats, which is led by Jimmie Akesson, the country is governed by a shaky minority coalition of Social Democrats and the Green Party.

The Sweden Democrats’ platform calls for heavily restricting immigration, opposes allowing Turkey to join the European Union and seeks a referendum on European Union membership..


Jimmie Akesson, the leader of the Sweden Democrats, at an election night party in Stockholm in 2014. Anders Wiklund/AFP/Getty Images

Founded in 1980, the neofascist party Golden Dawn came to international attention in 2012 when it entered the Greek Parliament for the first time, winning 18 seats. The election results came amid the country’s debilitating debt crisis and resulting austerity measures.

The party, which the Council of Europe’s human rights commissioner described in 2013 as “neo-Nazi and violent,” holds extreme anti-immigrant views, favors a defense agreement with Russia and said the euro “turned out to be our destruction.”

In September 2013, the Greek authorities arrested dozens of senior Golden Dawn officials, including members of Parliament and the party’s leader, Nikos Michaloliakos, who was charged with forming a criminal organization.

Golden Dawn, which again won 18 seats in parliamentary elections in September, was largely silent as the migrant crisis in Greece began, but in recent weeks, members have been marching in several areas where migrants are camped.

Party leaders, since released from custody as their trial continues, have said Golden Dawn is planning numerous protests around the country against what they warn is the “Islamization of Greece.”


The National Front is a nationalist party that uses populist rhetoric to promote its anti-immigration and anti-European Union positions.

The party favors protectionist economic policies and would clamp down on government benefits for immigrants, including health care, and drastically reduce the number of immigrants allowed into France.

The party was established in 1972; its founders and sympathizers included former Nazi collaborators and members of the wartime collaborationist Vichy regime. The National Front is now led by Marine Le Pen, who took over from her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, in 2011.

She has tried to soften the party’s image. Mr. Le Pen had used overtly anti-Semitic and racist language and faced repeated prosecution on accusations of Holocaust denial and inciting racial hatred.

In the first round of voting in regional elections in December, the National Front won a plurality of the national vote (27 percent), but in the second-round runoffs, the party was denied victory in all 13 regions.

Ms. Le Pen is expected to be her party’s candidate in the 2017 presidential election and to make it to the second round of voting.


The far-right Alternative for Germany party, started three years ago as a protest movement against the euro currency, won up to 25 percent of the vote in German state elections in March, challengingGermany’s consensus-driven politics.

The party failed to win seats in the German Parliament in 2013 by narrowly missing the 5 percent threshold, but is now polling at 10 percent to 12 percent and is expected to be the first right-wing party to enter the Parliament since the end of World War II.

Support for the party shot up after the New Year’s Eve sexual assaults in Cologne. The party “attracted voters who were anti-establishment, anti-liberalization, anti-European, anti-everything that has come to be regarded as the norm,” said Sylke Tempel of the German Council on Foreign Relations.

Frauke Petry, 40, the party’s leader, has said border guards might need to turn guns on anyone crossing a frontier illegally. The party’s recently adopted policy platform says “Islam does not belong in Germany” and calls for a ban on the construction of mosques.


Frauke Petry, a leader of the far-right-wing party Alternative for Germany, said that the situation with asylum-seekers in the country was causing “huge problems.” Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters

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