The rise of Europe's far-right

As Europe struggles to deal with a refugee crisis and economic problems, the last few years have witnessed the resurgence of far-right political parties throughout the continent. Here are a few of the most notable.

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

An increase in anti-Semitic attacks has been reported in five European countries.

Racist, xenophobic, anti-semitic, anti-Islamic, anti-refugee - these are but a few labels used to describe the views and agenda of Europe's far-right political parties.

As the continent struggles to deal with a refugee crisis and economic issues, some of these right-wing parties are gaining in popularity.

Some are against accepting refugees while others are openly calling for their countries to be "all white" and "Christian only."

It may be 2016, and Europe may be a first world continent, but far-right parties are still working tirelessly to gain more support.

These parties already have seats in their countries' parliaments as well as seats in the European Parliament.

Here are some right-wing parties which are growing in strength:

The AfD party says Islam and refugees are both unwelcome in Germany.

Germany: Alternative for Germany  

Alternative for Germany (AfD) was founded in 2013 as the EU struggled to bail out members hit by economic crises.

Germany – Europe's biggest economy – had to bear a large chunk of the burden.

In response, AfD emerged with calls to do away with the euro to free Germany from this role.  

The party don't have a presence in the federal German Parliament – the Bundestag – but is well represented in the country's regional governments.

The party is no stranger to controversy and has seen a rise in popularity in certain parts of the population after publically protesting against Islam and the influx of refugees into Germany.

It has also been accused of engaging in racism.

A leading politician in AfD, Alexander Gauland, stirred controversy when he suggested that ace German footballer Jerome Boateng would cause unease among his neighbours for being the son of a Ghanaian man.

The party's membership has grown to over 20,000.

Marine Le Pen speaking before a poster depicting Jeanne d’Arc saying "No to Brussels, yes to France" at a May Day rally in Paris on  May 1, 2014.

France: National Front

After remaining on the fringes of mainstream French politics for over four decades, the National Front has emerged as an important political force in the past few years.

It stunned many in 2014 after winning 25 percent of the vote, which earned it 21 out of France's 74 seats in the European Parliament.

The party was founded in 1972 by Jean-Marie Le Pen, who landed in controversy many times for his anti-Semitic and anti-migrant views. 

Now his daughter Marine Le Pen leads the right-wing party with the same slogans but with even greater intensity. 

She has appeared at rallies where posters depict a woman clad in medieval armor – presenting something of a militant image.

She has likened Muslims praying on streets to the Nazi occupation of France and her party is calling for people to stop using virtual currency because it doesn't trust the conventional banking system.  

Le Pen supports England's exit from the EU and says she would also lead France out if she's elected to power.

The party is one of Europe's largest, with roughly 83,000 members.

Head of the Austrian Freedom Party (FPOe) Heinz-Christian Strache speaks during a demonstration against a refugee home in Vienna, Austria, April 18, 2016.

Austria: Freedom Party of Austria

An anti-immigration, anti-Islamic right-wing party almost won this year’s elections in Austria.

The Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ) was founded in 1965 and has a membership of over 50,000.

Its roots can be traced back to Nazi Germany where its first leader, Anton Reinthaller, was a former SS officer and Nazi minister.

The party has strong ties with the pan-European radical right-wing eurosceptic party European Alliance for Freedom.

The FPÖ’s current leader, Heinz-Christian Strache, has turned the party into a staunch supporter of Israel.

He has met with central figures of the American Tea Party movement and also declared himself "a friend of Serbia," openly rejecting the independence of Kosovo.

Presently the FPÖ advocates the introduction of hard north euro and a soft south euro currencies.

Far-right dutch politician Geert Wilders of the Party for Freedom arrives at a rally after elections for the European Parliament.

Netherlands: Party for Freedom

Party for Freedom is a anti-EU, anti-Islam political party which has called for closing all Islamic schools in the Netherlands.

The party has also suggested recording the ethnicity of all Dutch citizens.

The Party for Freedom is led by Geert Wilders, one of Europe’s most prominent far-right politicians.

Wilders in the past compared the Quran to Nazi leader Adolf Hitler's book, Mein Kampf.

The party also supports banning the construction of new mosques.

Wilders appeared in court for inciting hatred and discrimination after he released a highly controversial short film called Fitna.

The 17 minutes film attempted to demonstrate that the Quran motivates its followers to hate all who violate Islamic teachings.

He was acquitted in 2011 on all charges of inciting hatred and discrimination against Muslims.

The party won nine seats in the 2006 election, 24 seats in the 2010 election, and by 2012 it won 15 seats, making it the third largest party in the country's parliament.

It has a total of 4 of the Netherlands' 24 seats in the EU.

The party is strongly campaigning for the Netherlands to leave the EU.

Posters of the Swiss People's Party (SVP) demanding the deportation of criminal foreigners, symbolising criminal foreigners as black sheep. The poster is viewed as racist by many.


The Swiss People’s Party (SVP) was founded in 1971 and is one of Europe’s longest established ultra-conservative political parties.

The party is known for its tough stance on imposing stricter immigration laws and believes in a nationalist-only approach.

The party has two seats in the Swiss National Council.

The party are often accused of blatant racism and hatred towards people of different ethnicities and religious backgrounds.

In 2015, two senior party leaders launched an advertising campaign featuring two Swiss nationals being attacked by knife-wielding immigrants from Kosovo.

This caused outrage and the two politicians were charged and found guilty of racial discrimination and ordered to pay a fine.

In another attack on Islam, the party moved to amend the constitution to ban the new construction of minarets on mosques, saying they were political symbols and therefore go against the country's constitution.     

It has also designed leaflets featuring a veiled woman against a background of a Swiss flag pierced by several minarets resembling missiles.

The party is one of Europe's largest with a membership of over 90,000 people.

A Golden Dawn supporter gives a Nazi-style salute during a Saturday rally in Athens.

Greece: Golden Dawn

Greece's far-right Golden Dawn party came onto the stage in 1980, but only attracted international attention in 2012 after it won 18 seats in the country's parliament for the first time.

The party has been described as neo-fascist and neo-nazi.

Members of Golden Dawn are notorious for carrying out acts of violence and hate crimes against immigrants, political opponents, as well as the LGBT community and ethnic minorities.

Golden Dawn's offices have been attacked repeatedly by anarchists and other leftists and there have been frequent clashes between members of Golden Dawn and leftists.

The party backs extreme anti-immigration policies and holds regular protests near camps where refugees are being housed.  

Besides having in 18 seats in the Hellenic Parliament, the party also holds 3 seats of Greece's 31 in the European Parliament.

It is known for its hardline eurosceptic and anti-globalist views.

Members of the Bulgarian nationalist Ataka Party storm a Mosque During Friday Prayers in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, 14 February 2014.

Bulgaria: Ataka

In Bulgaria there is an extreme far-right movement based around the Ataka Party.

It became the fourth strongest party after winning 23 out of the 240 seats in the country's parliament.

The party has been accused of racism and xenophobia and its members are known to attack Mosques and non-whites.

A large number of party supporters were arrested at the Bulgarian border while they were torturing Afghan and Syrian refugees.

A Jobbik supporter at a rally in Budapest.

Hungary: Jobbik

Jobbik, the Movement for a Better Hungary, is one of the most extreme far-right, radical nationalist parties in Europe.

It was founded in 2003 by neo-conservative university students.

The party is known for its anti-semitic, racist and homophobic stance.

It has been linked to many violent homophobic incidents in Budapest.

It has also been accused of racial and religious hatred and discrimination.

But it is most notorious for its anti-semitic stance against Hungarian Jews.

It staged a protest against Budapest hosting the World Jewish Congress in 2013. 

A Jobbik leader even went as far as spitting on a monument that was built to commemorate Jews killed by Hungarian Nazis in 1944.

Like most European far-right parties, Jobbik is also against immigration and says a "No Vacancy" sign should be put up along Europe’s borders.  

Jobbik describes the refugee issue as "a time bomb ticking away."

Jimmie Akesson, leader of the Sweden Democrats, at an election night party in Stockholm in 2014.

Sweden: Sweden Democrats

The Sweden Democrats (SD) were founded in 1988 and has a membership of 25,000 supporters attracted to its anti-immigration and anti-refugee platform.

The party says its ideology is based on nationalism and social conservatism, and is also known for its strong anti-Islamic stance.

But many Swedish scholars and many members of civil society have labelled the party as radical nationalist, xenophobic, racist and right-wing populist. 

SD, under the leadership of Jimmie Åkesson, openly rejects the policy of multiculturalism, but accepts a multi-ethnic society where cultural assimilation is promoted.

During the last election in 2014, SD gained 49 seats in the country’s Parliament and two seats from Sweden’s 20 in the European Parliament.