• Introduction

  • By Erhard Crome , Walter Baier | 10 May 11
  • The thematic focus of this issue of our journal is the “radical right”. As examples, (radical) right-wing movements in Austria, Belgium, Finland, Greece, Ukraine and Hungary are addressed. In the lead article of this section, Jean-Yves Camus points out that one of their causes is that “while traditional anti-fascism continued to watch for an emergence of xenophobic populism along the classic lines of the 1930s and 40s, the right in Europe was revising its political software”. As a result, “a new subset of political families has been born, consisting of rightist populists and radicalised xenophobes”.

    There is considerable agreement among our authors in emphasising the important role played in the formation of these new right groups by a new exclusional nationalism which is in sharp opposition to any argument in favour of multi-culturalism as the basis for a state. This also applies, as Vitaly Atanasov stresses, to a great extent to the Ukrainian Svoboda party. This gave it entry into mainstream politics “under the slogan of ethnic Ukrainian nationalism, anticommunism and traditionalist chauvinism combined – semiofficially – with a good deal of xenophobia and anti-Semitism”.

    Nationalism has special significance, according to G. M. Tamás, for understanding the Hungarian right, which since the last elections has a twothirds majority in Parliament and more than 93 % (!) of the village, town and city mayoral positions. The Hungarian development takes on a European dimension when the parliament of this country, which currently holds the chair of the EU, solemnly condemns the Treaty of Trianon and offers Hungarian citizenship to members of the Hungarian minorities in the neighbouring countries. Under the slogan “National Cooperation” and with a self-styled “Government of National Causes”, a policy of purging of institutions, security services, media and academic / educational entities is being carried out.

    The role of anticommunism in the formation of extreme right tendencies is only touched on in these articles, but it merits closer consideration, and not just from the angle of former East-Bloc countries.

    How extreme right parties are succeeding in penetrating the centre of society and de-stigmatising themselves by building ties to traditional rightwing parties is shown by Dimosthenis Papadatos-Anagnostopoulos with the example of Greece’s LAOS and the evolution of its politics during the financial crisis. It has surprised many to observe this party’s capacity for self-transformation, its tacticism and how it has combined “a ‘policy of bile’ (addressing the fans through party channels) and ‘Trojan Horse’ tactics, presenting itself to the ‘national audience’ as a supporter of mainstream views”.

    Daniel Zamora points to a frequently overlooked context of Belgium’s institutional crisis: “Behind the institutional discussions about the future of Belgium lies the question of the future of Belgian social security and, broadly speaking, all the elements that make up its social system”. “Regionalising these issues would be a decisive step in dismantling the Belgian system of wealth distribution”. “Nationalism … is disguising an ultra-liberal socio-economic agenda here”.

    “According to Eurostat, Austria (and the Netherlands) enjoy the lowest unemployment rate in the EU. Vienna has a different structure than the rest of the country. It is estimated that 40 % of the city’s population was not born in Austria; German is not their mother tongue. In the capital, 82 % work in the service sector, nearly 18 % in productive industries and a few have agricultural jobs”. Ulrike Kruh reports on last autumn’s municipal elections held in what up to then was “Red Vienna”, which, alongside losses for the Social Democrats who had been in power since 1945, brought spectacular success (26 %) for the extreme right FPÖ.

    In contrast to other authors, Carl Mars applies the concept of “right-wing populism, which combines right-wing market ideology, political authoritarianism and anti-foreigner attitudes” to characterise the True Finns, which in turn differs somewhat from its continental role models”. Scandinavian rightwing populism is, indeed, considered more moderate than that of the rest of Europe. According to specialists, “Scandinavian parties often justify their anti-immigration views with welfare chauvinism instead of racism …”. “Also EU criticism, for which the True Finns bang the drum, especially defines the Scandinavian neo-right”.

    We intend to continue our collection of case studies in future issues of the journal. In this, the rise of the cited movements reflects a general problem of European politics: the ever more clearly discernible crisis of European integration on a neoliberal basis. These realities will continue to be with us in the foreseeable future. As the texts published here also show, research on the extreme right comes up against theoretical and conceptual problems. This too will be the object of further investigations and publications in the framework of Transform!