At the end of last year the Conservative Delegation in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe aligned itself with some of the continent’s most extreme-right-wing political parties.
The Group in question has 29 member parties. These include the following:
Austrian Freedom Party: First two leaders were former SS officers. Allied in the European Parliament with Marine le Pen’s French National Front, the Italian Northern League, Vlaams Belang, and the Czech Civic Conservative Party.
Although during the late 1990s the party attacked the influence of Islamic extremism, this was later expanded to include “Islamisation” and the increasing number of Muslims in general. According to The Economist, the hostility to Muslims is “a strategy that resonates with voters of Serbian background, whom the party has assiduously cultivated.” The party has also vowed to outlaw the distribution of free copies of the Koran.
The Belgian Vlaams Belang (‘Flemish Interest’) is a rebrand of Vlamms Blok, which dissolved after a trial in 2004 condemned the party for racism. In the European Parliament the party sits with the National Front, the Northern League, the Freedom Party of Austria, the Dutch Party for Freedom, the Polish Congress of the New Right, Alternative for Germany and a former member of the UK Independence Party in the ‘Europe of Nations and Freedom’ group. Outside the EU, it has ties to the Swiss People’s Party, and Putin’s United Russia.
For many years most other parties operated a cordon sanitaire, effectively blocking the Vlaams Belang from taking part in government at any level, with additional attempts on cutting public subsidies for the party. Following the 2019 federal elections there was some speculation that the cordon sanitaire might be lifted.
The party calls for repatriation of immigrants who ‘reject, deny or combat’ Flemish culture as well as certain European values, including equality between men and women. A leading member, Filip Dewinter, has stated that women wearing the hijab have ‘effectively signed their contract for deportation’.
Bulgarian United Patriots includes Ataka party, which complains there are too many mosques and that Turkish is conspiring to make Bulgaria Muslim.
Czech Freedom and Direct Democracy Party wants to pursue a more restrictive immigration policy, particularly towards immigration from Islamic nations, and rejects multiculturalism.
Danish People’s Party holds that Denmark is not naturally a country of immigration and does not accept a multi-ethnic ‘transformation’ of Denmark. It opposes recognition of Kosovo and Palestine.
The Conservative People’s Party of Estonia seeks to prevent immigration from outside the EU. Its identitarian young wing, Blue Awakening, organises torchlight parades. Critical of FGBT rights and homosexuality. It attends the annual reunion of the Estonian Legion, a unit of the Waffen SS.
The party leader’s son said in May 2013: ‘Estonia shouldn’t allow things to go as far as in England, France and Sweden. Our immigration policy should have one simple rule: if you’re black, go back. As simple as that. We shouldn’t allow this problem to emerge in the first place.’
In 2017, speaking about the LGBT Pride parade, he said: ‘The safeguarding of a parade of perverts is not the job of the police.’
Finns Party: In December 2011, an opinion poll revealed 51% of Finns Party voters agreed with the statement, ‘People of certain races are unsuited for life in a modern society.’
It opposes same-sex marriage.
Alternative for Germany describes German national identity as under threat both from European integration and from the presence and accommodation of immigrants and refugees.
‘The immigration of so many Muslims will change our culture’ (then party leader in 2016).
Opposes same-sex marriage.
AfD was expelled from the European Conservatives and Reform group in the European Parliament in 2016 for its stance on this issues, including a statement that immigrants who tried to cross the German border illegally, regardless of gender or age, should be shot. In 2020 AfD’s spokesman for its Bundestag members was dismissed after film emerged in which he said migrants should be gassed. Also in 2020 the German internal security agency determined that the party’s Der Flugel wing was a threat to democracy and public order.
Greek Solution emphasises action against illegal immigration, including installation of an electric fence on Greece’s border with Turkey and detaining illegal immigrants on uninhabited islands as they await deportation
A party spokesman stated in 2019: ‘We go with Greece’s interest wherever that lies – Russia, America, China. We go logically towards Christian Russia, but it’s not a sure thing given Russia’s current alliance with Turkey.’ The party’s leader has expressed admiration for Hungarian Prime Minister Orban self-proclaimed ‘illiberal democracy’, particularly that country’s economic and migration policies.
Brothers of Italy inherited the mantle of the MSI, post-war successor to Mussolini’s Fascist Party, but recent leaders have labelled the MSI part of a shameful past, leading inter alia to the departure of Mussolini’s granddaughter Allessandra.
Italy’s Northern League supports the promotion of immigration from non-Muslim countries in order to protect the ‘Christian identity’ of Italy and Europe, which according to party officials should be based on ‘Judeo-Christian heritage’.
Its policy towards settled migrants had moderated since 2003 when its then leader suggested opening fire on the boats of illegal immigrants from Africa, whom he described as ‘bingo-bongos’, and a colleague labeled foreigners as ‘immigrant slackers’, saying that ‘we should dress them up like hares and bang-bang-bang’.
Norwegian Progress Party opposes asylum seekers being allowed to stay in Norway on humanitarian grounds or due to health issues.
Poland: Law And Justice: In 2015 party leader Jarosław Kaczyński stated that Poland ‘can’t’ accept any refugees because ‘they could spread infectious diseases’. In 2017, the first Deputy Minister of Justice Patryk Jaki stated that ‘stopping Islamization is his Westerplatte’ (a reference to the first battle in Germany’s invasion of Poland in 1939). In 2017, Interior minister of Poland Mariusz Błaszczak stated that he would like to be called ‘Charles the Hammer who stopped the Muslim invasion of Europe in the 8th century’. In 2017, Deputy Speaker of the Sejm Joachim Brudziński stated during the pro-party rally in Siedlce; ‘if not for us (Law and Justice), they (Muslims) would have built mosques in here (Poland).’
Poland’s President Andrzej Duda, the party’s candidate for presidency in 2015 and 2020, has described the LGBT movement as ‘a foreign ideology’. Almost half the country (the half where Law and Justice support is strongest) has declared its towns and counties ‘LGBT ideology-free zones’.
In 2020 state-controlled police used pepper-spray against women protesting the confirmation by state-nominated judges of a further reduction in their right to access abortion.
Slovak National Party: Under leader Jan Slota, 2003-2012, it was known for its inflammatory rhetoric against ethnic Roma and Hungarians. Slota’s reported remarks included ‘The best policy for dealing with the Roma is a long whip in a small yard’; ‘We will sit in our tanks and destroy Budapest’; and ‘I question if homosexuals are normal people’.
In 2000, 40 of the 41 city council members in Žilina, where Slota was mayor at the time, voted to dedicate a plaque honouring Jozef Tiso, who was Hitler’s quisling leader of Slovakia, and after the war was convicted and executed for breaking the Czechoslovak state and for collaboration with Nazi Germany, including the deportation of Jews. In 2008 his remains were buried in the canonical crypt of the Catholic Cathedral in Nitra.
Slovakian Ordinary People Party is anti-abortion and anti-same-sex marriage.
Spain’s Vox Party endorses anti-Islam policies as well as being critical of multiculturalism and immigration from Muslim countries, instead promoting immigration from countries of Latin America. Vox has openly called for the deportation of tens of thousands of Muslims from Spain. In 2019, the party’s leader demanded a Reconquista of Spain, explicitly referencing a new expulsion of Muslim immigrants from the country.
Vox is more ultra-nationalist than the Popular Party, whose own ranks include many from the Falangist Party of Generalissimo Franco, dictator and sympathiser with Hitler.
Sweden Democrats: Some of its early members had previously held connections to Swedish fascist and white nationalist groups. An early poster had the slogan ‘Keep Sweden Swedish’ and international connections included links with the American Association for the Advancement of White People.
SD wishes to strongly restrict immigration, and give generous support for immigrants who instead of wanting to assimilate in Sweden voluntarily prefer to emigrate back to their country of origin. It advocates stripping funding for multicultural initiatives and strengthening support for traditional Swedish culture.
Also represented: Prosperous Armenia, New Azerbaijan Party, Czech Civic Democratic Party, Alliance of Patriots of Georgia, Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania, Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union, Serbian Enough is Enough, Slovak Freedom and Solidarity Party, and Ukrainian Servant of the People and Peto Poroshenko Bloc parties.
In general, these parties have made efforts to modernise and make themselves politically respectable and therefore acceptable partners in coalitions where they can influence national policy, in some cases expelling more outspoken members. Allying with the British Conservatives, who have moved to the right and broken their previous ties with moderate centre-right parties like Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats, assists this process.
Creating a large group through this merger also gives them more leverage in the assembly (Dame Cheryl Gillan, UK Conservative MP for Chesham and Amersham) now chairs the powerful Political Affairs Committee). The EC/DA (72 members) is now the fourth largest of the five groups after the centre-right European People’s Party (154), the centre-left Socialists, Democrats and Greens goup (148), and the centrist Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (90). The radical left Unified European Left Group has 36 members.