By Saeed Ullah Khan Wazir.
Although populist leaders masquerade as champions of across-the board human rights, true representative democracy and rule of law, they pose grave threat to democracy and globalization.
I- Historical perspective
A – Fascism and Nazism
B – Capitalism and Communism
- Defeat of communism
- Era of new world order (1991-2008)
C – 9/11 and War on Terror
II – The rise of Populism in the 21st century
III – Instruments employed by populist leaders
A – State colonization
B – Mass clientelism
C – Discriminatory legalism
IV – Populism is widespread across the globe
A. Asiatic continent
1- Modi’s communal bellicosity
2 – Masoud Barzani’s Kurd Autonomous Region movement
B – American continent
1. Trump’s Making America Great Again and building Mexican Wall
2. Venezuela,Peru,Argentina,Chile ,Paraguay
C – Brexit—Nexit and Frxit in the offing
D – Europe
1 – France, Germany, Catalonia, Italy, Austria, Greece
V – Major causes of Populism, Nativism and Rise of Right wing politics
A. Euroscepticism or Euroceisis
B. Immigration and refugees
C. Global Economic Meltdown-2008
D. Terrorism and militancy
E. Clash of civilizations or cultural fault lines
F. Mega corruption scams and capitalist economy
VI – Impact, far-reaching repercussions of Populism
A. Threat to globalization and multilateralism
B. Religious and racial profiling
C. Minorities persecution
D. Threat to democracy and emergence of totalitarianism
E. Violation of International Law
F. Militarization and Arms Race
VII – Solutions.Way out:How to counter Populism
A. Reforming the UNSC
1. Making it consensus oriented
2. Abolish the use of veto on vital issues
B. Global and regional trade blocks should be inclusive and egalitarian
C. New social control based on Pluralism
1. Inclusion of the Superfluous
a. Socio-economically backward people
b. Minorities protection
c. Empowering youth and women
D. Legalizing the Elit
1. Decreasing tax ammunities to the Elite
2. Industrial and commercial reforms Media and the moderate forces should engage the populists in dialogue
E. Cultural dialogue and intellectual responses
F. Interfaith harmony
VIII – Conclusion
Countries with Populist Parties
The world history has been alternating between different, competing and overlapping ideologies, philosophies and theories at a given point in time. This confluence of multiple trajectories determines the efficacy, viability of those who could withstand the test of time and dominate the world order for the time to come.From the primitive society to globalization,history bears witness to this reality.
In the wake of 21st century globalized world, the West and the East have transformed politically, culturally, socially and religiously, either for good or bad.To put it simple,the world,at large,has been shifting to primitive re-tribalization,widespread populism and aggressive nationalism which bode ill for the security, coexistence and multilateral nature of the global society.
Muller in his book ‘What is Populism’ defines it as a particular moralistic imagination of politics, a way of perceiving the political world that sets a morally pure and fully unified –but ultimately fictional—people against elites who are deemed corruptor in some other way morally inferior. They claim that they, and only they, represent the people.
Populist leaders employ a litany of techniques for achieving their objectives. First ,through state colonization they occupy state apparatus by awarding key, critical positions to their blue-eyed boy.Second,they resort to mass clintelism for bestowing material and non-material favors upon people for mass political support.Third,they engineer discriminatory legalism which entails –for my friends everything: for my enemies, the law.
As a corollary of populism, the West and the European countries has been grappling with surging, brewing crises of immigrants, economic inequalities, the much-hyped mantra of Islamophobia, a welfare chauvinism, and an anti-cosmopolitan isolationism in the name of defending traditional values and identities at home. This has paved the way for the far-right neo-fascists in electoral arena.
Trump’s ‘Make America Great Again’, Modi’ s ‘Act East policy’,Heinz-Christian’s ‘HE wants what WE want’,and Le Pens’ ‘No to Immigrants are red signals of polarization, inward-looking and xenophobic forces occupying the new wave of politics of hate.
The unprecedented, dramatic rise of the ultra-conservative religious lot and peripheral political fringe has triggered off wide-ranging ramifications across the world. This, in the long progression, could entail exponential challenges to the nation state system. With the elevation of populist leaders to the corridors of power, the world is drifting towards more transactional, inward-looking bilateralism from more inclusive, binding multilateralism.
The most critical questions do arise: Is it not detrimental to the concept of nation state system?Is it not a dire threat to globalization and multilateralism? Is the world not heading towards the clash of cultural fault lines and rampant racism?
The British divorce from the EU is celebrated with great pome and show. Boris Johnson advocated leaving the EU.He chanted let the British roar ignoring the fact that it would be more of a moan than a roar.The much-anticipated Frexit could further disintegrate the European polity across regional,lingual,political and racial lines.
In South Asia, the rise of Modi-led BJP has intensified communal bellicosity and regional tensions. The Saffronisation (recalling and glorifying intolerant, ancient Hindu cultural history) debunks India’s claim of largest democracy. The atrocities inflicted on innocent Kashmiris, the cow slaughter controversy, the mantra of surgical strikes and myriad military doctrines could escalate the threshold of nuclear war.
America, a cultural melting pot, is reeling with racial and religious polarizations. In the wake of Trump administration anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant policies,racial profiling and segregation is all time high. Trump’s unilateral decision of cutting off $ 285 million fund to the UN,withdrawing from the Paris climate pact and quitting Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement indicates plummeting decline of the US global leadership role. As nature abhors vacuum, so China will fill in the gap leading to the inevitable Thucydides trap.Furthermore,instead of promoting governance in the wider Middle East,the hawkish,pro-Israeli Trump administration is hell-bent on stocking sectarian, ideological and strategic tensions.
The European Union countries experience looming economic and political crises due to political fragmentation and religious disharmony. In France, the National Front espouses anti-immigrant and anti-EU sentiments by championing protectionist economic policies, clamping down on benefits for immigrants and drastically reducing the number of immigrants. During election campaign, Marine Le Pen used anti-Semitic and racist language. He said two totalitarianisms- globalization and Islamism-want to subjugate France.
The far-right Alternative for Germany emerged the third strongest party in more than 60 years which attracted votes base of those who are anti-establishment,anti-European,anti-liberalization,and anti-everything that has come to be regarded as the norm. They deride Islam, peddle heated propaganda that it does not belong to Germany, and challenge the collective national guilt over Nazi crimes and the Holocaust.
The neo-Nazi and violent Colden Dawn entered parliament in Greece in the wake of debt crisis and resulting austerity measures. It alleged that the euro-zone turned out to be our destruction.
The rise of Freedom Party in Austria seeks to lowering taxes, limiting immigration and strengthening the country’s welfare system in the guise of chauvinistic nationalism and xenophobic leadership.
As it is said in the mainstream European media, if Dutch and Austrian politics move to the right wing, Europe might catch a cold; if France or Germany politics take a nationalist turn, the bloc (the European Union) might have to be hospitalized. Trump’s withdrawal from multilateral institutions, the lingering tensions of the Brexit and emergence of more hawkish political parties on the scene of world politics have resulted in major transformation and unpredictability.
The mainstream leaders must rise to the occasion by integrating and celebrating unity in diversity. The Muslims in the West need to focus on promoting cultural dialogue and coming up with analytical response to the accusations of Islamophobes and purveyors of hate. The Muslim countries, reciprocally and as a goodwill gesture, must award minorities with fundamental rights at home.
Supportive Materials for the ESSAY
“Populism is not just antiliberal, it is antidemocratic—the permanent shadow of representative politics. A “moralistic imagination of politics” in Muller’s words.
Müller defines populism’s most salient characteristics – anti elitism, anti pluralism, exclusivity – and explains Trump and other populists through that framework. It is a quick read, and worth every page.”
Donald Trump, Silvio Berlusconi, Marine Le Pen, Hugo Chávez – populists are on the rise across the globe.
The definitions used:
- Populism is “an ideology that considers society to be ultimately separated into two homogeneous and antagonistic groups, ‘the pure people’ versus ‘the corrupt elite,’ and which argues that politics should be an expression of the volonte generale (general will) of the people.”
- Nativism is “an ideology which holds that states should be inhabited exclusively by members of the native group (‘the nation’) and that nonnative elements (persons and ideas) are fundamentally threatening to the homogeneous nation-state.”
- Authoritarianism is “the belief in a strictly ordered society, in which infringements of authority are to be punished severely. In this interpretation, authoritarianism includes law and order and “punitive conventional moralism.”
The term “populism” has been used very loosely, however, to describe a wide range of phenomena that don’t necessarily go together. We need, therefore, to put some boundaries around the term. There are at least three characteristics that in my view have been typically associated with it.
The first is a regime that pursues policies that are popular in the short run but unsustainable in the long run, usually in the realm of social policies. Examples would be price subsidies, generous pension benefits, or free medical clinics.
A second has to do with the definition of the “people” that are the basis for legitimacy: many populist regimes do not include the whole population, but rather a certain ethnic or racial group that are said to be the “true” people. Thus Viktor Orban in Hungary has defined Hungarian national identity as based on Hungarian ethnicity, something that would exclude non-Hungarians living in Hungary, and include the many Hungarians living in surrounding countries like Slovakia or Romania.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi in India has similarly been trying to shift the definition of Indian national identity from the inclusive liberal one established by Gandhi and Nehru to one based on Hinduism. The Polish Law and Justice Party has emphasized traditional Polish values and Catholicism, and has stimulated the rise of more overtly racist groups, like the one calling for a “white Europe” in November 2017.
A third definition of populism has to do with the style of leadership. Populist leaders tend to develop a cult of personality around themselves, claiming the mantle of charismatic authority that exists independently of institutions like political parties. They try to develop a direct and unmediated relationship with the “people” they claim to represent, channeling the latter’s hopes and fears into immediate action. It is typically coupled with a denunciation of the entire existing elite, the latter of which is of course invested in existing institutions.
A major Threat
This personalistic approach to leadership is what makes populists such a threat to democratic institutions. Modern liberal democracies are built around power-sharing institutions like courts, federalism, legislatures, and a free media that serve as checks on executive power. All of these institutions are potential roadblocks to the populist leader’s ability to achieve his or her goals, and therefore become direct targets of attack. The personalistic nature of populism thus makes it a threat to liberal institutions.
These three definitions then allow us to distinguish between the different movements that have been given the label “populist” in the past. Latin American populists like Hugo Chavez or Nestor and Cristina Kirchner emphasized popular but unsustainable social programs, and tried to create personality cults around themselves. The Argentine pair portrayed themselves as re-embodiments of the classic populist power couple, Juan and Eva Peron. They did not, on the other hand, entertain a restrictive definition of national identity. The same could be said of Thaksin Shinawatra and his sister Yingluck, the former Prime Minister, in Thailand: they promoted redistribution programs for poorer rural Thais but did not have the same restrictive view of Thai identity as their yellow shirt opponents.
Leaders of the Brexit movement, by contrast, did not stress an expansive economic program, nor did they have a single charismatic leader. But they did appeal to anti-immigrant cultural fears and traditional British identity, as well as to unhappiness about economic dislocation. Viktor Orban fits all three definitions: he has tried to protect Hungarian savers from “predatory” European banks; he has a restrictive definition of “the people”; and he would certainly like to be considered a charismatic leader. It is not clear whether Vladimir Putin fits any but the last of the three definitions: he has been cautious on expansive social programs; while he has stressed Russian identity and traditions, that tradition is not necessarily restrictive in ethnic terms. Putin has certainly built a cult of personality around himself, though it is hard to argue that he is an outsider seeking to overthrow the entire elite, having come up through the ranks of the KGB and then the Russian FSB. The same can be said about India’s Narendra Modi and even China’s Xi Jingping: they have both become popular by attacking the existing elite, though they themselves are very much part of that elite.
It should be noted that Donald Trump fits all three definitions. During his campaign, he stressed economic populism, withdrawing from the Trans Pacific Partnership and threatening to tear up the North American Free Trade Agreement once in office. He promised to protect entitlement programs like Medicare and Social Security – though since becoming President, he has governed more like a traditional conservative Republican, seeking for example to cut social benefits by repealing Obama’s Affordable Care Act. And while Trump has never explicitly endorsed white nationalism, he has been happy to accept support from those who do, and went out of his way to not single out neo-Nazis and overt racists during their rally in Charlottesville. He has had a very problematic relationship with African-Americans, Hispanics, and other minorities; black sports stars and performers have been frequent targets of his Twitter posts. And he has acted like a classic charismatic at rallies with his core supporters: when accepting the Republican nomination in 2016, he said that “I alone understand your problems,” and that “I alone know how to fix them.”
Latin America and in Southern Europe … Left
Thus, within the realm of movements labeled populist, we can distinguish between at least two broad categories. In Latin America and in Southern Europe, populists have tended to be on the Left, having a constituency among the poor and advocating redistributionist social programs that seek to remedy economic inequality. They do not however emphasize ethnic identity or take a strong stance against immigration. This group would include Chavez’s Bolarivarian movement and Kircherismo in Argentina, as well as Spain’s Podemos and Greece’s Syriza.
Northern Europe … Right wing
In northern Europe, however, populists are based less on the poor than on a declining middle or working class, and takes a more right-wing ethnic and anti-immigrant turn. They want to protect existing welfare states but do not emphasize rapid expansion of social services or subsidies. Groups in this category would include Brexiteers, France’s National Front, Holland’s Party of Freedom, the Danish Peoples’ Party, and in the United States, many of Donald Trump’s hardcore working class supporters.
Then there are groups or movements that don’t really fit either category. Italy’s Five Star movement like other populist movements is resolutely anti-establishment and denounces the Italian elite as a whole. But it differs from both its Northern and Southern European counterparts by being both urban and middle- or even upper middle-class, rather than being based in a declining working class.
Amid a migrant crisis, economic inequality, growing disillusionment with the European Union and a sense of lost national identity, right-wing parties in a growing number of European countries have made electoral gains. The right-wing parties included below range across a wide policy spectrum, from populist and nationalist to far-right neo fascist.
There are three reasons why we are seeing the rise of populist nationalism in the second half of the 2010s: economic, political, and cultural.
The economic sources of populism have been widely noted and discussed. The same trade theory that tells you that all countries participating in a free trade regime will be better off in the aggregate also tells you that not every individual in every country will be better off: Low-skill workers in rich countries are likely to lose out to similarly-skilled but lower-paid workers in poor ones. That is in fact what has been happening in many industrialized countries with the rise of China, Mexico, and the like. According to a recent IMF study, some 50 percent of Americans are no better off in terms of real income than they were in 2000; many more of those in the middle of the income distribution have lost ground than have moved up the economic ladder. In the United States, this relative economic decline of the middle or working class has been associated with a number of social ills, like increasing rates of family breakdown and an opioid epidemic that in 2015 claimed about 60,000 lives. At the same time, globalization’s gains have been heavily concentrated among the well-educated cognitive elite, who tend to set broader cultural trends.
The second source of populism is political. The traditional complaint against many liberal democracies, with their numerous checks and balances, is that they tend to produce weak government. When such political systems combine with polarized or otherwise severely divided electorates, the result is often political paralysis which makes ordinary governing very difficult. India under the previous Congress Party government was a striking example of this, where infrastructure projects and needed economic reforms seemed beyond the government’s ability to deliver. Something similar occurred in Japan and Italy, which often faced gridlock in the face of long-term economic stagnation. One of the most prominent cases is the United States, whose extensive set of constitutionally mandated checks and balances produce something that I elsewhere have labeled “vetocracy”: that is, the ability of small groups to veto action on the part of majorities. This is what has produced a yearly crisis in Congress over passing a budget, something that has not been accomplished under so-called “regular order” for at least a generation, and has blocked sensible reforms of health care, immigration, and financial regulation.
This perceived weakness in the ability of democratic governments to make decisions and get things done is one of the factors that set the stage for the rise of would-be strong men who can break through the miasma of normal politics and achieve results. This was one of the reasons that India elected Narendra Modi, and why Shinzo Abe has become one of Japan’s longest-serving Prime Ministers. Putin’s rise as a strong man came against the background of the chaotic Yeltsin years. And finally, one of Donald Trump’s selling points was that, as a successful businessman, he would be able to make the U.S. government functional again.
Moreover, there have been major policy failures by elites in both America and Europe. The United States embarked on two unsuccessful wars in the Middle East in the 2000s, and then experienced the biggest recession since the Great Depression of the 1930s. Both of these were rooted in elite decisions that had terrible consequences for ordinary citizens. The European Union created a monetary union around the euro without a corresponding way to unify fiscal policy, leading to the Greek debt crisis. And it created the Schengen Zone and a host of other rules liberalizing the movement of people within Europe without establishing a credible mechanism for controlling the European Union’s outer borders. While laudable from an economic and moral standpoint, internal freedom of movement became problematic in the absence of such controls. This turned into a legitimacy crisis in the wake of the mass migration triggered by the Syrian civil war in 2014.
The final driver of populist nationalism is cultural and has to do with identity. Many years ago, Samuel Huntington pointed out that the most dangerous socio-economic class was not the poor and marginalized, who often lacked the time and resources to mobilize, but rather middle classes who felt they had lost ground economically and were not being adequately recognized by the political system. Such people can make economic demands, but they tend to interpret their loss of status culturally as well: they used to constitute the group that defined national identity, but were now being displaced by newcomers who were being given unfair advantages over them. They are driven by a politics of resentment against elites who benefit from the system, and they tend to scapegoat immigrants and foreigners as agents of this loss of status. In this respect, economic motivation overlaps substantially with cultural concerns, and in many ways cannot be distinguished from them. It also distinguishes northern European or American populism from that of southern Europe or Latin America.
The social basis of Brexit, Trump, and Le Pen voters lies in declining middle or working classes,
whereas Podemos in Spain, Syriza in Greece, Chavez in Venezuela, or the Kirchners in Argentina are more traditional left-wing parties representing the poor.
This has what has made immigration such a powerful issue in driving populist nationalism in northern and eastern Europe and the United States. Rates of immigration and refugees have in fact become very high in Europe and the United States, and concerns over rapid cultural change have motivated many voters to support populist parties and leaders even if they have felt under direct economic threat. This is reflected in the oft-stated goal of populist parties to “take back our country.” In many ways, questions of identity—language, ethnicity, religion, and historical tradition – have come to displace economic class as the defining characteristic of contemporary politics. This may explain the decline of traditional center-left and center-right parties in Europe, which have lost ground steadily to new parties and movements built around identity issues.
Threat to Democracy
Anti-European Union, anti-immigration, protectionist… populist parties have already shifted the mainstream into more nationalistic directions, says the report, without violating democratic norms.
However, many populist parties – including some that have been in power – espouse “deeply illiberal” policies that use public support to undermine the rule of law and violate minority rights. “They can pose a real threat to democracy itself,” it argues.
Hungary is singled out as a striking example, its government accused of descending into “quasi-authoritarianism”, packing courts and electoral commissions with loyalists, and attacking independent media and universities. Even future free and fair elections are in doubt, the study says.
Polish democracy is also described as “looking much more brittle” than it was, with its new government criticised for “undermining the separation of powers” with its judicial reforms.
A darker future?
The institute argues that populism is far from being on the wane, with more electoral gains likely. The presence of Austria’s Freedom Party in government is cited. Restrictions on migration and access to welfare could be replicated elsewhere, the report says, as European politics moves towards more nationalism and protectionism. Finland, Estonia, Denmark and Norway have seen policy changes under populist influence.
While such a scenario is described as a potential “new normal”, the picture in Eastern Europe suggests that “a decidedly darker future remains possible as well”. In Hungary and Poland, populists are accused of having “destroyed” democratic institutions.
The report finds worrying signs that right-wing populists elsewhere in Europe have started to mimic the “overtly authoritarian rhetoric” of their Eastern European counterparts, with attacks on parliaments, the press and the judiciary.
If “populism’s corrosive effects” are restricted to the new democracies in parts of Central and Eastern Europe, the study concludes that the gap between East and West will continue to grow. However, it warns that countries in Western and Northern Europe – including the like of Germany and Sweden – are not immune from a potential “process of democratic deconsolidation” if the populist surge continues.
Populism is a “thin ideology” in that it “only speaks to a very small part of a political agenda.” An ideology like fascism involves a holistic view of how politics, the economy, and society as a whole should be ordered. Populism doesn’t; it calls for kicking out the political establishment, but it doesn’t specify what should replace it. So it’s usually paired with “thicker” left- or right-wing ideologies like socialism or nationalism.
“[P]opulists only lose if ‘the silent majority’—shorthand for ‘the real people’—has not had a chance to speak, or worse, has been prevented from expressing itself,” .“Hence the frequent invocation of conspiracy theories by populists: something going on behind the scenes has to account for the fact that corrupt elites are still keeping the people down. … [I]f the people’s politician doesn’t win, there must be something wrong with the system.”
Populists—ranging from the revolutionary socialist Hugo Chavez in Venezuela to the religious conservative Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Turkey—have managed to portray themselves as victims even at the height of their power, blaming their shortcomings on sabotage by shadowy domestic or foreign elites.
It’s not that populists have some special mind meld with the masses. Rather, “[p]opulists put words into the mouth of what is after all their own creation.” As an example, Müller cites Nigel Farage, the former leader of the populist U.K. Independence Party, who called Britain’s vote to leave the European Union a “victory for real people,” as if the 48 percent of British people who voted to remain in the EU were “somehow less than real—or, rather, questioning their status as members of the political community.”
“To understand the current administration, populism is as important as nativism and authoritarianism.”
“Populists in power tend to undermine countervailing powers, which are courts, which are media, which are other parties.”
Parties with countries names who rose to Power due to Populist leaders
Under Sebastian Kurz, the conservative People’s Party won 31.5 percent of the vote in the recent election, giving it the largest bloc in the national Parliament. Almost as many people voted for the insurgent far-right Freedom Party, as did for the establishment center-left party, the Social Democratic Party, which both got about 27 percent.
The People’s Party benefited from a strong performance on social media, and from a campaign that focused on limiting immigration, lowering taxes and strengthening the country’s social welfare system.
It is likely that Mr. Kurz, at 31, the youngest leader in Europe, will form a coalition with the Freedom Party, led by Heinz-Christian Strache, 48. The Freedom Party seeks to curb immigration, particularly from the Middle East, to shrink welfare benefits to non-Austrians and to curtail what it calls political Islam in the country. The Freedom Party has said it does not wish to leave the European Union, despite voicing strong criticism of the bloc’s handling of refugees and borders.
If the right leaning coalition forms, Austria could join Hungary and Poland in demanding that the European Union pursue tougher policies on migration.
Support for the far – right has been on the rise recently, but the Freedom Party’s candidate, Norbert Hofer, lost the presidential election in December 2016 to an independent candidate, Alexander Van der Bellen.
The far-right Alternative for Germany party, known by its German initials, AfD, started four years ago as a protest movement against the euro currency, won about 13 percent in the latest election, becoming the third strongest party.
It marked the first time in more than 60 years that a far-right party moved into the federal parliament.
The party, Germany’s fastest growing, has attracted voters who are “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, the former leader of the party, has said border guards might need to turn guns on anyone crossing a frontier illegally. The party’s policy platform says “Islam does not belong in Germany” and calls for a ban on the construction of mosques.
In January, Björn Höcke, a prominent state lawmaker in the party, drew broad criticism by challenging the collective national guilt over Nazi crimes and the Holocaust.
The anti-European Union, anti-Islam Party for Freedom, led by Geert Wilders, failed to win a plurality in a March 15 election in the Netherlands, finishing in second place.
While the results were a setback for a party that had been leading in the polls for much of the campaign, the party is predicted to gain five more seats, 20, than it won in the last election. The party also succeeded in pushing many right-leaning parties to adopt tougher stances on immigration and is likely to influence policies in the new government.
A new right-wing party, the anti-European Union Forum for Democracy, won two seats.
Mr. Wilders, one of Europe’s most prominent far-right politicians, has said he wants to ban the Koran and close mosques and Islamic schools. He was convicted in December of inciting discrimination for leading an anti-Moroccan chant at a political rally, but the Dutch court imposed no punishment. In February, he described Moroccan immigrants as “scum” who endanger the country.
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.
President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia visited Budapest in February, and Mr. Orban said that “very anti-Russian policies” in the West were hurting Hungary’s economy.
After the election of Donald Trump, which Mr. Orban supported enthusiastically, Fidesz accelerated a crackdown on what it called “foreign funded” nongovernmental organizations pressing for more transparency and human rights.
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.
Jobbik’s 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 a February interview, Gabor Vona, the party’s leader, denied persistent rumors that Jobbik receives money from the Kremlin, but he did say he would welcome warmer relations between Moscow and Washington.
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 and broaden its appeal. 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 February, Ms. Le Pen began her campaign for president with a grim speech warning that “two totalitarianisms,” globalization and Islamism, want to “subjugate France.”
Polls show that she is very likely to reach at least a second round of voting in France’s two-stage electoral process this spring. The party is closer than it has ever been to gaining power in France after over 40 years of existence.
“We are living through the end of one world, and the birth of another,” Ms. Le Pen told a cheering gathering of members of European right wing parties in Germany in January.
Founded in 1980, the neo fascist 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 again won 18 seats in parliamentary elections in September, making it Greece’s third-largest party.
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.”
In November, Mr. Michaloliakos publicly embraced the occupation by nationalist groups of a site in Athens where the capital’s first state-sponsored mosque is planned.
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