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Marching Rightward

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Europe's Extreme Right has Cleaned up its Act but Still may Contemplate Direct Action

July 26th 2011

Hungary Jobbik party svastika
JOBBIK party rally in Hungary

The attack in Norway has prompted a debate in Europe over whether the recent electoral success of far-right parties has had any causal linkages to the attack of extremism on full display in Oslo.

Recent success of far-right parties across Europe has actually a lot to do with the fact that the extremist far right has cleaned up and become part of the mainstream. One of the main avenues of electoral success has been the idea that the far right, especially in Nordic and northern Europe — so countries such as Sweden, Finland, Denmark, the Netherlands — that the far right in these countries is actually the last bastion of liberalism and protector of European-styled tolerance. The idea being that the reason these parties are anti-immigrant is because immigrants coming to Europe, specifically Muslims, are intolerant and that they therefore cannot be part of a tolerant, liberal society. This has played very well with voters in northern Europe.

However, there could be a mechanical linkage between the legitimization of the far right on the electoral side of things and the rise of extremism such as what was on display in Norway. In particular, as the far right becomes part of the electoral process in Europe, as it becomes a legitimate party, political choice for center-right and conservative electorate across many countries, the fringe elements of these parties will feel that they are no longer really capable of expressing themselves in an open forum in these parties.

This is really not a novel phenomenon. In the ’60s and the ’70s in Europe the rise of left-wing extremism was in many ways prompted by the failure of the more extremist left-wing political organizations that really effect any change in the process. What happened was that many simply cleaned up and became part of the Social Democratic center-left parties that to this day rule many of the countries in Europe, whereas the fringe elements pursued in some instances extremism and militant attacks.

As far-right political parties in Europe have become just part of the political process, yet another party to vote for, they have had to jettison their most extremist elements, leaving them out in the cold without a public forum where they can voice their extremist ideas. But forum was also in many ways very useful in tempering them because in a group setting they had other individuals who could satisfy their extremist ideology and at the same time temper their actual actions.

Therefore, it is very likely that in 2011 there are more individuals such as the attacker in Norway who are contemplating these types of attacks. Outside of a group setting, no longer part of a far-right group because of their ultimate extremism, they may be contemplating similar actions.

Marko Papic is an analyst at STRATFOR, from where this article is taken.


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