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Right-wing parties in Europe

Wulff Wilde / tcApril 28, 2016

Right-wing parties have been on the make for years in Europe and are already governing in several countries - some even holding absolute majorities. Here, an abbreviated overview outside Germany.

Fidesz Viktor Orban
Image: Reuters/K. Pfaffenbach


The nationalist conservative, right-wing party Fidesz has had its say in the political agenda of Hungary since the end of the 1990s under the leadership of Victor Orban (pictured above). Since the parliamentary elections in 2010, Orban as prime minister has been leading with an absolute majority, a power that he has used to reform the state. When over a million refugees reached the country's border last year via the Balkan route to Europe, Orban erected fences. It was a move that the EU criticized, but the 52-year-old ruler and his party reached new highs in the polls among voters.

POLAND: Prawo i Sprawiedliwo (PiS)

The nationalist conservative Law and Justice Party of Poland, Prawo i Sprawiedliwo (PiS), founded in 2011 by then-justice minister Lech Kaczynski and his twin brother, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, has moved continuously further to the right since its inception. After holding the office of prime minister from 2005 to 2007, PiS gained an absolute majority after parliamentary elections last October. The party's agenda is conservative and critical of the EU. In the party's eyes, Poland comes first while firmly rejecting the acceptance of refugees.

The movement Kukiz15, founded by former rock musician Pawel Kukiz, is even firmer on their stance regarding refugees. The relatively new party won 8.8 percent of the vote, the third-highest percentage, in recent parliamentary elections by campaigning on the platform of building a wall on the border to Ukraine.

FRANCE: National Front (FN)

Founded in 1972 by Jean-Marie Le Pen, the National Front has become one of the strongest political powers in France in recent years under the leadership of his daughter, Marine Le Pen. In the first round of local elections in 2015, the FN took home more than 28 percent of the votes, ahead of the Republicans and Socialists while bettering their results from the European election of 2014, in which they garnered 26 percent of the vote.

Marine Le Pen
France's Marine Le Pen has reshaped the National FrontImage: Reuters/Y. Herman

For years, the National Front has campaigned against what they call the islamification of France and fought for harder punishments for those immigrants who break the law. They likewise promote greater independence for France from the EU and the protection of national industries and agriculture.

NETHERLANDS: Partij voor de Vrijheid (PVV)

The Partij voor de Vrijheid, or Freedom Party, has been in the Dutch Parliament for over 10 years after its founding by Geert Wilders, and is the fifth-strongest faction.

Geert Wilders
Geert Wilders of the Netherlands has around-the-clock protectionImage: picture-alliance/dpa/Vincent Isore/IP3

Current polls have the PVV in the lead with nearly about 30 percent of the vote, which would triple their 2012 election results. Wilders, the head of the PVV, has been the face of the European right for years, which rose to recognition on a platform built on two things: the Netherlands leaving the EU and a strong anti-Islam stance. The Koran is a "fascist book" according to the 52-year-old. After the terror attacks in Paris in 2015, he called for the deportation of anyone who is not Dutch.

AUSTRIA: Freiheitliche Partei Österreichs (FPÖ)

After a spectacular win in first round elections, the Austrian Freedom Party will be sending its candidate forward to the run-off election which will determine the country's next president. Norbert Hofer, 45, is the clear favorite. Polls have put the FPÖ continuously at the top, ahead of the social democratic SPÖ and conservative ÖVP. In addition to that there is a feeling among many citizens that Heinz-Christian Strache, the head of the FPÖ, would make a better chancellor than Werner Faymann, the current holder of the position and member of the SPÖ.

Criticism aimed at the EU and the euro combined with a strong anti-Islam and anti-immigration standpoint has helped Strache gain many followers and protest voters. The current refugee crisis has only served to strengthen that tendency.

DENMARK: Dansk Folkeparti (DF)

Already back in 2001, the Dansk Folkeparti - Danish People's Party - comprised the third largest faction in the Danish Parliament, tolerating the right-wing liberal government in Copenhagen. In parliamentary elections in June 2015, the DF grabbed 21.1 percent of the vote, pushing the rightist-liberal Venstre, the tolerated minority, aside. They did so by promoting a complete stop to asylum.

UNITED KINGDOM: UK Independence Party (UKIP)

Nigel Farage's UK Independence Party took 13 percent of the vote in elections for the British Parliament in May 2015, though due to Britain's first-past-the-post system, they won only one seat. Still, by votes they were the third-largest power in the country.

UKIP Nigel Farage billboard
UKIP leader Nigel Farage making an appeal to votersImage: DW/B. Wesel

Opinion surveys continue to see UKIP at a level of 13 to 16 percent. The party, founded originally in 1993, counts the UK's exit from the European Union as its main goal. They likewise call for a more strictly controlled immigration policy, hitting out at what they disparagingly refer to as "multi-culturalism" and "political correctness."

ITALY: Lega Nord (LN)

In Italy, the Lega Nord (Northern League) has been a part of the political landscape since the end of the 1980s. They've been a part of the government in Rome several times. After a corruption scandal and internal strife, they returned in 2012, barely squeaking out ahead of the four percent hurdle for entry into parliament. Since the head of the party, Matteo Salvini, began speaking out during the refugee crisis against migration, the party has risen in the polls to more than 14 percent at the moment. One of their most important goals is to split the economically successful northern part of the country from the more impoverished southern areas.

GREECE: Chrysi Avgi

The extreme right-wing Chrysi Avgi, or Golden Dawn, reached third place with seven percent in the most recent elections. Up until the financial crisis of 2009, they were relatively meaningless as a party, but the hard austerity measures followed by a high unemployment rate has contributed to their advance. A further reason for their growing popularity is the large number of refugees arriving in Greece.