Stefanie Wöhl · Elisabeth Springler ·
Martin Pachel · Bernhard Zeilinger
The State of the
Fault Lines in European Integration
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Extreme Right-Wing Parties in and
Against Europe. A Systematizing
This chapter analyzes the programmatic orientation of the extreme right-wing
parties in Europe with respect to Europe—also by demarcating it from demo-
cratic concepts of Europe. For this purpose, (Sect. 1) previous classiﬁcation sys-
tems of comparative party research will ﬁrst be introduced and it will be shown
how extreme right-wing parties in Europe are contextualized in relation to other
parties. Next, (Sect. 2) the extreme right party family will be classiﬁed in more
detail. The article then discusses why it is systemically problematic to consider
the strategy of (right-wing) populism an analytic criterion of its own that can be
differentiated from right-wing extremism (Sect. 3). Following this (Sect. 4), the
critique of the term populism will be expanded by a historical reconstruction
of extreme right-wing concepts of Europe. This will show that during the post-
war period, images of Europe of the extreme-right were always positive, albeit
(Sect. 5) being (and they still are today) anti-democratic and ethnic images of
Europe. In Sect. 6, a systematic comparison of twelve parties will be made. For
this comparison, three parties each from four major regions of Europe (North,
South, East, West) were chosen. Finally, Sect. 7 will summarize the key catego-
ries of “image of Europe” and “dealing with the past” which are suggested as
comparison criteria to differentiate within the extreme right party family.
© Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden GmbH, part of Springer Nature 2020
S. Wöhl et al. (eds.), The State of the European Union, Staat – Souveränität –
S. Salzborn ()
Technische Universität Berlin, Berlin, Germany
104 S. Salzborn
1 Party Classications in Comparative Party
In democratic orders, political parties assume a role as central actors. Their
intended tasks and functions as intermediary institutions between society and the
state can be understood as constitutional principles or as simple legal ruling. Par-
ties always represent a part of society and either address a broad spectrum of the
population (major party) with a comprehensive manifesto, focus on a speciﬁc rep-
resentation of interests for a certain societal or social group (patronage-based par-
ties) or deal with and represent just a minimum selection of topics (single-issue
In his systematization of political parties, Max Weber (1980, p. 167) empha-
sized the socio-economic aspect even more strongly. Looking at the objectives
of political parties, he differentiated between patronage-based, status-group/class
and ideology-driven parties. As early as in the 1960s, Otto Kirchheimer (1965,
p. 27 ff.) in turn described the trend of the catch-all party becoming increasingly
dominant. This type distinctly manifests itself in many present-day, predomi-
nantly consensus-oriented democracies: a party that—to the greatest possible
extent—abandons its own social origin, as well as related interests, in favor of
a far-reaching orientation towards the political mainstream. It becomes (in parts
only superﬁcially) de-ideologized and grants its leaders a high level of unre-
Due to the historical emergence of parties in democracies, the classiﬁcation
of parties into party families has meanwhile established itself (across national
boundaries in comparative party research). Individual parties are mainly distin-
guished based on their social origin and the interests they articulate (cf. Mair and
Mudde 1998, p. 223 ff.). The similarly used terms “political-ideological fami-
lies” (Schmidt 2002, p. 60) and “ideological family” also refer to this distinction
(Deschouwer 2006, p. 293). Thus, the common aspect of parties gained by syn-
chronic and diachronic comparisons is emphasized despite their speciﬁc program-
matic features and different national contexts.
The classiﬁcation of parties into party families comprises the following oppor-
tunities for differentiation. Problems of unambiguous classiﬁcation of a particular
party cannot be ruled out, as the respective normative context of the political sys-
tem, as well as the evolutionary change of the positions of the parties themselves
play a role (cf. Beyme 1984, p. 43 ff., 2000, p. 64 ff; Seiler 1996, 2000): liberal
parties; communist parties; socialist, social-democratic or labor parties; anar-
chist parties; conservative parties; religious parties; agrarian parties; nationalist
105Extreme Right-Wing Parties in and Against Europe …
or regionalist parties; (neo-)fascist, (neo-)Nazi, extreme right or right-wing pop-
ulist parties; ecological or green parties; feminist parties. Ultimately, all parties
in this fully differentiated overview can be ascribed to basic ideological tenden-
cies in political theory (liberalism, conservatism, socialism, fascism) (cf. Salz-
born 2015b). However, they do set speciﬁc priorities in their objectives or in their
social references. The question of the validity of this classiﬁcation, particularly of
the category “(neo-) fascist, (neo-)Nazi, extreme right or right-wing populist par-
ties” as one sub-group, is of key importance to any further analysis.
2 The Extreme Right Party Family
With respect to the ﬁeld of (neo-)fascist, (neo-)Nazi, extreme right or right-wing
populist parties, it has been argued with increasing frequency that the so-called
right-wing populist parties form their own sub-group within the party family (cf.
Heinisch and Mazzoleni 2016; Pirro 2015). In this chapter, this argument will
be contradicted ﬁrmly; conversely, it will be argued that it is hardly expedient to
characterize parties from the extreme right-wing scene as “right-wing populist”
solely due to a certain political strategy (cf. Lazaridis et al. 2016). When taking
a comparative look at the development of political parties in Europe, it is more
appropriate to base the distinctions within the group of extreme right parties on
different aspects. For this purpose, I will take on Michael Minkenberg’s consid-
erations (2013) who has emphasized the following question as a central aspect
of comparative research on this extreme right party family in Europe: Whether a
party—directly or indirectly—makes positive reference to historical movements
such as National Socialism or European fascist systems. Based on these consid-
erations, Minkenberg (ibid., p. 12) identiﬁed four types of extreme right-wing
parties: an “autocratic-fascist right”, a “racist or ethno-pluralist—but not fascist—
right,” a “populist-authoritarian right” and a “religious-fundamentalist right.”
Minkenberg builds on Klaus von Beyme’s (1988, p. 16) argument, which
states that research on right-wing extremism must consider parties in the context
of their respective extreme right-wing movements. Minkenberg then incorpo-
rates these four types of extreme right-wing parties into three types of organi-
zation, where, in addition to parties, social movements and subcultural milieus
are relevant to an overall analysis. Despite Beyme and Minkenberg’s argument
that not only, but in particular, extreme right-wing parties act in the context of
social movements and subcultural milieus (I have also advocated this argument
elsewhere, cf. Salzborn 2015a), is doubtlessly correct, it will not be pursued here.
106 S. Salzborn
This contribution develops an adequate classiﬁcation of extreme right-wing par-
ties in Europe and does not deal with their social contextualization.
Miroslav Mareš, unquestionably owed to his Eastern-European perspec-
tive (2015), has taken on Minkenberg’s concept and reduced it to three types of
parties. He introduced the type of “authoritarian conservatism” which invokes
pre-modern traditional values (similar to the type of Minkenberg’s religious-
fundamentalist right). He takes over Minkenberg’s autocratic-fascist type and
renames it (neo-)fascist or (neo-)Nazi type and summarizes Minkenberg’s
remaining two types as one, which for Mareš is exactly characterized by its dis-
tance to historical (fascist) movements and programmatically aims at “national
exclusivity and xenophobia” (ibid., p. 54).
In this chapter, I would like to adopt the ideas of Minkenberg und Mareš con-
cerning the question of a historical embedding or non-embedding of the extreme
right-wing parties as a, also in my view, central aspect of distinction. However,
I feel it would be useful to conﬂate the pre-modern frames of reference (such as
religious myths and a religious fundamentalism derived from them) and the ref-
erence to fascist and/or National Socialist movements into one dimension. This
would result in an extreme right contextualizing based on historical politics and
characterized by drawing its visions for the future from an adaptation of the past.
When, on the other hand, one considers the other types suggested by Minkenberg
and Mareš, this results in an extreme right-wing spectrum, which—deliberately or
strategically—detaches itself from the historical dimension to then act in various
ways without any historical reference. Minkenberg describes the parties’ actions
as racist-ethnopluralistic or populist-authoritarian while Mareš describes them as
However, to be able to understand the actions of the extreme right-wing par-
ties interpreted within this classiﬁcation, in my opinion, a fundamentally differ-
ent category is required that goes beyond those of Minkenberg and Mareš: the
question of how the parties position themselves in their relationship to Europe.
We need to consider the political order favored by the parties as well as the rela-
tionship between racial, political and spatial planning concepts in categories
of thinking such as people, “race,” nation, Reich and especially Europe. Only
these analytical categories allow us to understand how extreme right-wing par-
ties act in Europe against Europe. In this respect, the extreme right-wing parties
can be divided into those that are indeed against the European Union (EU), but
not against an ethnic, regionally segmented, or racist ethno-pluralistic differenti-
ated Europe; and those that want to expand their own national political ideas in
a hegemonic and imperialist manner and thus ﬁght Europe in favor of the domi-
nance of their own nation which is to become the leading nation in Europe. Thus,
107Extreme Right-Wing Parties in and Against Europe …
with the extreme right-wing parties, Europe serves as a most disparately contex-
tualized code, which needs deciphering for a comparative classiﬁcation.
3 Populism—A Critique of an Unclear Term
In the 21st century, (liberal representative) democracy has changed considerably.
The technical possibilities arising from the digitization of society have led to an
acceleration of everyday political life, in which social networks play an increas-
ingly important role in the public representation of politics. Political actors are
reacting to this new challenge in different ways. It is inarguable that the operation
of everyday political offerings and concepts in the world of Web 2.0 is oriented
towards exchange, dialog, and transparency. Communication increasingly occurs
as direct exchange. If politics wishes to meet the demands of society created by
the new technological possibilities, and if it wants the population to be involved
in the daily affairs within the processes of democracy, using the mediated chan-
nels of radio, television, newspapers and the unmediated channels of social
media, then a certain degree of populism is inevitable. This is because the techni-
cal restraints of social media (such as a maximum number of characters in short
messages or predetermined forms of signaling agreement) generate certain paths
of behavior that all would-be participants must adhere to in order to participate.
If, against this background, the category “Populism” indeed once served as
one of the analytical categories that could be used to differentiate between vari-
ous parties and social movements before the advent of Web 2.0, it is now sim-
ply redundant. Whoever participates in social media, especially as a politician, is
often compelled by technical restrictions to use a populist mode of communica-
tion. This is because both social media and populism share an orientation towards
escalation, reduction, polarization and simpliﬁcation of arguments—which is,
for example with tweets of a maximum of 140 characters, simply unavoidable.
Alongside speciﬁcally structured forms of communication that have, in the age of
Web 2.0, removed the power of the word “populism” as a distinguishing term, the
strategic dimension of populism itself is to perform a kind of self-staging: a mar-
keting of simpliﬁed and polarizing concepts playing on emotions while creating
consensus not through persuasive arguments, but through overwhelming affective
This issue also sketches out the whole dilemma regarding the parties cat-
egorized as “right-wing populist” in Europe: when classifying a party as right-
wing populist, this party is ﬁxed in a category that, in its over-generalization as
“populism”, applies to all parties. At the same time, this categorization diverts
108 S. Salzborn
attention from the goals, methods, and content of right-wing parties by overem-
phasizing the (media-)strategic moment of self-staging. This is because for these
parties to succeed, the possibility of voter self-identiﬁcation with them is crucial
in terms of mass-psychology, and works precisely because both party leadership
and base conceive of themselves as getting a raw deal. The successful right wing
parties are, simply put, parties of the average and the mediocre who perceive
themselves as outsiders because they consider themselves to be above average. To
this extent, the label “right-wing populist” makes it difﬁcult to engage effectively
against these parties (cf. Gruber and Bale 2014). On the one hand, this is because
the label declaring it a speciﬁc thing that has become so common in the media-
democracy that it no longer serves as a point of distinction (“populism”). On the
other hand, it deﬂects the actually necessary, content-related question about right-
wing alignment, and instead works secretly with an undifferentiated notion of the
causes of success.
I therefore propose to reserve the category “right-wing populism” exclusively
for a description of strategies within right-wing extremism, as it is not useful to
differentiate clearly between meanings and does not carry a substantial meaning
as a category of comparison. In this sense, I agree with the approaches advocated
e.g., by Jan-Werner Müller (2016) or Yascha Mounk (2018), as long as populism
is understood as a strategy with right-wing extremist content. However, for com-
parative party research this category is simplistic and therefore not useful.
Every right-wing extremist party acts sometimes in a more, sometimes a less
populist way. Right-wing populism is about an inﬂammatory strategy of choos-
ing topics and their media launch, in which the staging and the cult of personal-
ity are central, with the goal of connecting to established (media)-strategies by
picking up current debates and escalating them in a polarizing and polemical
fashion. Here, a key point is the strategic orchestration of a staged antagonism of
the political elite and “the people” whose advocate the extreme right professes to
be. Extreme right-wing populists purport to be ﬁghting the alleged establishment.
Regarding the USA and its new president, Donald Trump, a major representative
of the economic elite may even succeed in selling himself as an opponent of the
elite. Populist strategy takes up current debate topics and heats them up polemi-
cally and in a polarizing manner.
Right-wing populist strategies often avoid explicitly fascist and/or Nazi vocab-
ulary (exceptions to this include the right-wing populist strategies of the FPOe in
Austria and the AfD in Germany). However, in the ideological substance there is
no example that could show that right-wing populism is more than simply a stra-
tegic option of right-wing extremism. It thus seems a concept that cannot bear the
role of a separate political family.
109Extreme Right-Wing Parties in and Against Europe …
4 Lines of Traditions
Already in the immediate aftermath of World War II, right-wing intellectuals
attempted to reconstruct a völkisch (ethnic) Europe idea by falling back on (pre)
fascist ideologies, crude “racist doctrine” and NS propaganda. The British fas-
cist leader Sir Oswald Mosley, who already attempted to reorganize an interna-
tional Nazi movement at the end of the 1940s, ﬁrst raised the right-wing ideology
of a “Nation Europe” which was supposed to develop into the third superpower.
The strategic reference to Europe in right-wing projects also mirrored the Nazi
propaganda of the Waffen-SS as a “protagonist” for a “united Europe” (cf. Klet-
zin 2000; Kluke 1955). In 1951, the former SS-Sturmbannführer Arthur Ehrhardt
established a magazine with the programmatic title Nation Europe (later: Nation
& Europe). In his “political testament,” Ehrhardt explained that a “European
major nation” centered on the natural leading power Germany was necessary
because of a “far-reaching similarity in the essence of our Völker on bloodlines”.
This European Nation had already been baptized in blood in 1945 in the ﬁght by
the “European comrades, the French legion in the battle for Berlin, and the Nor-
dic, Flemish, East European SS comrades on all fronts” (Ehrhardt 1971, p. 5 f.).
They adopted a militant position against the two superpowers, the USA and
the USSR, right from the beginning. However, with the Eastern European trans-
formation, this contradiction was sidelined in 1989/1990. This “European major
nation” was supposed to rise up with a new sense of awareness. After real social-
ism, it also had to free itself from US hegemony: “The time is ripe for a fun-
damental reorientation of European Völker—away from regionally-foreign,
pan-state global policemen, to a new supra-regional continental unit, which
ﬁnally gives priority to European interests, and lifts up Europe again to the sta-
tus of a major sovereign power.” (Richter 1992, p. 3). The spiritual authorship of
demands of this kind was and is still evident: Back in 1939, Carl Schmitt had
already formulated a Völkerrechtliche Großraumordnung mit Interventionsver-
bot für raumfremde Mächte: ein Beitrag zum Reichsbegriff im Völkerrecht as the
geopolitical doctrine of National Socialism—which, in terms of power politics,
was primarily directed against American inﬂuence on the continent (cf. Salzborn
National peculiarities have repeatedly caused the extreme right to agitate
against the European Union (EU) as an institution and against the Euro as a com-
mon currency. They have led to the present success in most European countries—
particularly of populistically acting right-wing extremists. Nevertheless, they
have so far hindered the development of institutionalized co-operation beyond
110 S. Salzborn
national borders, or even the establishment of a pan-European right-wing party
(cf. Davies and Jackson 2008; Langenbacher 2011; Minkenberg 2008; Mudde
2007). In addition to the personal vanities of the leaders in each case, this long-
term co-operation also foundered on the different strategies and means of gaining
political power (cf. Frölich-Steffen and Rensmann 2005; Akkerman et al. 2016),
as was also shown by the politics put into practice by right-wing parties in the
European Parliament (cf. Osterhoff 1997). A certain exception with respect to a
partial long-term creation of pan-national structures is only seen on the part of
militant neo-Nazism, which sticks to its original concept of a “white race,” and
opposes the “common enemy of all Völker”: “international big business” (cf.
Grumke 2002, p. 43 ff.; see also Backes and Moreau 2012).
The aim of the far right is to replace a pluralistic political system with an
authoritarian system that is based on organic ideas of ethnic nationalism (Volks-
tumsvorstellungen) (cf. Hafeneger 1994; Schmidt 2001). Consequently, the free-
dom of the individual should be subordinated to the omnipotence of a European
Reich (quasi as a “völkisch-regional anti-national state”) by itself a consequence
of the unconditionally privileged status of the notions of unity, order and soci-
ety. The “Nation Europe” central motif of extreme right-wing European ideology
formulates a claim to unrestricted domination of the most omnipotent possible
power seen in political and military confrontation with American hegemony.
At the same time, however, the Nation Europe also constitutes a projection sur-
face, grounded on the rejection of a multi-cultural society, which the right-wing
extremists still particularly connect with the USA. Here, the projection surface
is established in a unifying way by the shared bogymen: the USA and the “glo-
balizers” on the American “East coast” (an anti-Semitic code used ubiquitously in
right-wing extremist circles) (cf. Greven and Grumke 2006; Grumke and Wagner
2003; Maegerle 2005; Rensmann 2008). A Europe of small (völkisch) units and
regions—as emphasized by the Italian Lega Nord for instance—has priority over
a “Europe of high ﬁnance, proﬁt-oriented industry, banks and major companies”
(quote from FAZ 19.03.2002).
5 The Europe Concept of the Extreme Right Wing
The smallest common denominator of right-wing extremism currently is the
ideology of inequality, which as a philosophy is an expression of structural vio-
lence because of its notion of dividing its people into essential collectives. The
associated völkisch-racist philosophy is the key fundamental concept of right-
wing extremist ideology, i.e., “prototypical for a naturalization of society” (Jäger
111Extreme Right-Wing Parties in and Against Europe …
and Jäger 1999, p. 174, Herv. i. Orig.), and lastly, the theoretical framework for
the regular violent attacks on (supposed or actual) foreigners (cf. Benz 1998,
p. 35 ff.; Butterwegge 2000, p. 13 ff.). The range of variation in right-wing
extremism stretches from racist positions—based on biologistic differential mod-
els in the tradition of National Socialism (via völkisch-homogenizing notions,
which comprise a regionalist-ethnic segmented Europe headed by Volksgruppen
politics)— all the way to the notions of an ethno pluralism primarily based on
assumptions of cultural differences. This derives primarily from the spectrum of
the French Nouvelle Droite (cf. Müller 1994; Salzborn 2005; Terkessidis 1995).
Although the speciﬁc justiﬁcation of the essentialistic difference varies in each
case, the models have similar concepts:
“Right-wing extremism should be seen as the totality of attitudes, forms of behav-
ior and actions which, whether organized or not, are based on the racially or ethni-
cally founded social inequality of people, demand the ethnic homogeneity of Völker,
and reject the principles of equality deﬁned in the Declaration on Human Rights.
Right-wing extremism accords a clear priority to ‘community’ over individualism,
demands the subordination of citizens to a clearly narrow-mindedly oriented reason
of state, and dismisses every form of value pluralism of liberal democracy, with the
objective of dismantling democratisation.” (Glaß 1998, p. 71, Fn. 2)
Common grounds shared by völkisch notions are ﬁghting against the subject
and placing the collective ahead of the individual. Ethnic identity in right-wing
extremism does not function as a choice for individual identity, but rather as a
collective identity obligation—whereby the obligation encompasses an inter-
nally binding component and an externally segmenting component (cf. Luhmann
1998): the obligation to include, and the obligation to exclude.
The ideology of inequality aims internally to achieve ethnic homogeneity, and
externally to achieve ethnic separation. Under these premises, European right-
wing extremism can include centralistic, just as well as regionalistic, federal and
Reichistic movements (cf. Salzborn and Schiedel 2003). Here, the important point
for analysis is that right-wing extremism is always based on geopolitical and spa-
tial elements because Volk and Raum are thought of in the same context: not in a
democratic sense as demos, which lives (accidental, mutable and variable) as an
individual in the sovereign state, but as ethnos, which is ﬁxed (essential, static
and homogenous) as a collective in an existentialistically understood (settle-
ment) region. Right-wing extremism can therefore be said to refer to the romantic
notion of a nation (Volksbegriff) and politicizes it because regional consequences
are to be drawn from the cultural separation of people into Völker and Volksgrup-
pen. Social and political conﬂicts are naturalized and placed in an ethnic origin
112 S. Salzborn
context. By classifying ethnicity as an essential category, and elevating it to the
highest quality of “human nature,” the political goal is the complete social and
political segregation of people along ethnic criteria, as well as in the creation of
separate ethnic regions for individual Völker and Volksgruppen.
Immigration and migration are categorically rejected because a so-called
ethno-plural Europe should be based internally on ethnic homogeneity, and exter-
nally on völkisch exclusion—to safeguard the stylized character of each “home-
land region” which is considered natural in this philosophy (cf. Swyngedouw and
6 Commonalities and Dierences: The
Systematization of Comparison
Every comparative analysis of “Europe” faces the question if it is the political or
geographical term, which is referred to. Moreover, it is also necessary to clarify
the extent to which membership in the EU is the basis for the selection of cases to
be compared. In my opinion, there are good reasons for each of the variants, and
because the focus of this article is also the sound justiﬁcation of the suggested
categories of comparison (with reference to the past and to concepts of Europe),
it seems plausible to ﬁnd a procedure for choosing cases that are as formalized as
possible. The fewer content-based criteria that are used for selecting the cases, the
more the results must show that the suggested comparative criteria for right-wing
extremist parties in Europe (whether political or geographical or if members of
the EU) are generally valid.
On these grounds, the division of the macro-geographical regions of Europe
according to the United Nations Statistics Division (UNStats 2016) into Northern,
Eastern, Southern and Western Europe was initially taken as basis of the selection
for comparison. Two methodological assumptions are important: 1) The fewer
cases chosen in a macro-investigation, the less precise the comparison must be.
This sociopolitical truth cannot be compensated for mathematically. 2) Thus, it is
of course always desirable, from a political science perspective, to carry out a full
census—a comparison of all cases. It is only within a full census that every detail
can be captured, and therefore the commonalities and differences properly exam-
ined. From these two basic considerations, taking into account that a full census
is not feasible within the framework of this exploratory essay, three case studies
were selected at random from each of the four European macro-regions. Excep-
tions are the three European core countries of the UK, France, and Germany,
which are difﬁcult to ignore for a macro-qualitative comparison. In this context,
113Extreme Right-Wing Parties in and Against Europe …
“random selection” strictly speaking does not signify a statistical procedure, but
rather describes an approach in which, based on the UN-classiﬁcation of macro-
regions, three states (UK, France, Germany), have deliberately been selected for
the comparison, but all other cases have been included in the selection according
to the random principle or determined by lot.
The limitation to only twelve cases can only be legitimized in terms of labor
economics, which means that an expansion of the classiﬁcation is desirable. The
random selection (admittedly inﬂuenced by the prior selection of three cases)
yielded the following cases: for Northern Europe: the UK, Sweden, and Den-
mark; for Eastern Europe: Poland, the Czech Republic, and Hungary; for South-
ern Europe: Portugal, Italy, and Greece; and for Western Europe: Germany,
France, and Belgium. Because this is a macro-qualitative comparison, the short
description of the central right-wing extremist party or parties in each country
formed the starting point for the comparative analysis.
6.1 Northern Europe: The United Kingdom, Sweden,
The extreme right in the UK is traditionally shaped by subcultures and militant
structures and it is dominated by a proletarian self-image of racist worker cul-
ture, whose goal, true to the motto British workers ﬁrst, is the struggle against
immigrants in connection with nationalist social politics. Smaller parties, such as
the British National Front (BNF), openly pursue neo-fascist objectives, and actors
such as the internationally active music network Blood & Honour (B&H) make
direct reference to National Socialism. Due to the British “ﬁrst past the post”
electoral system, right-wing extremist parties tend to have little direct inﬂuence
on the political system. However, this has led to parties such as the BNF gain-
ing repeated success in local elections, mainly fed by an anti-communist and
anti-liberal working class environment. Ultimately, the parties have been widely
active in subcultures and non-parliamentary sectors of society for a long time
already. This changed with the emergence of the UK Independence Party (UKIP)
in 1993, which, since its inception, aimed above all at success in local elections
and in elections to the European Parliament. In elections to the lower house, it
was almost always a failure (cf. Clarke 2016; Thorleifsson 2016). UKIP’s main
political concern was the departure of the UK from the EU (cf. Lynch and Whi-
taker 2013), which was closely connected with ideas of national sovereignty.
This policy includes racist demands in e.g., social policy, but also in terms of a
restrictive immigration policy. Alongside that came the plea for strengthening
114 S. Salzborn
regional government and an anti-representative modus operandi. UKIP is pro-
grammatically careful not to make direct reference to fascist or National Socialist
traditions. At the same time, there is a considerable overlap at the highest level
of the party between UKIP and the fascist BNP (cf. The Times, April 27, 2014;
The Telegraph, December 26, 2014) as well as other pro-Nazi groups (cf. Daily
Mail March 01, 2015). In addition, UKIP has also indirectly supported neo-fascist
movements such as the Hungarian Jobbik (cf. The Guardian, January 27, 2013).
Thus, the attempt to distance themselves from historical traditions primarily con-
sists of avoiding to state the link directly, which makes it seem strategically moti-
vated (cf. Ford and Goodwin 2014; Goodwin 2011).
The British case with the strong worker orientation of the extreme right is
easily comparable to the extreme right in Scandinavia, which traditionally also
champions socio-political goals. The Sverigedemokraterna (SD; Sweden Demo-
crats) emerged in 1988 out of a merger between parts of other Swedish right-wing
parties. As with all parties on the right-wing extremist spectrum, they put for-
ward an anti-European stance. The SD’s national-protectionist concept advocates
strongly pronounced social state elements for a homogeneous Swedish identity
(cf. Bergmann 2017; Hellström and Nilsson 2010; Hellström et al. 2012; Mulinari
and Neergaard 2014): “Until 2011, the Sweden Democrats deﬁned themselves
exclusively as a nationalist party in their programmes of principles. The nation is
deﬁned as loyal, sharing a common identity, language and culture” (Jungar 2015,
The SD does not only act against the EU, but they also follow an anti-Amer-
ican and anti-Muslim platform alongside patriarchal, anti-feminist family poli-
cies (cf. Towns et al. 2014; Norocel 2016). A characteristic feature of the SD is
precisely this combination of family and social state elements with a nationalist-
racist rejection of emigration and immigration. Regarding bilateral or multilateral
cooperation, the SD calls for an approach that focuses on the Northern European
region. According to a high-ranking SD functionary, Jews are “not real Swedes”
(cf. taz, December 21, 2014), i.e., anti-Semitic principles are a founding part of
the national myth even though positive references to the Swedish fascists and
Nazis are avoided.
The Dansk Folkeparti (DF; Danish People’s Party), founded in 1995, is,
similarly to the SD, oriented towards social-political areas and the defense and
strengthening of the Danish welfare state—also under racist portents with a
rigid immigration and integration policy with a strong emphasis on Danish iden-
tity (cf. Bergmann 2017): “The name chosen for the […] party (Danish People’s
Party) accentuated this idea of ethnic identity and belonging (a Danish party for
the Danish people), and the commitment to safeguard existing conditions from
115Extreme Right-Wing Parties in and Against Europe …
internal and external threats to the Danish nation.” (Meret 2011, p. 250). Like
the SD, the DF is anti-European but does not put forward a negative picture of
Israel: “The position against EU has thus continued to represent a platform from
where to promote the role as guardian of Danish national sovereignty and at the
same time to retain an anti-establishment proﬁle that could be affected and weak-
ened by the party’s inﬂuential position in Danish politics.” (Meret 2010, p. 141).
The DF stands for the constitutional monarchy and the Folkekirken (Danish folk
churches), the “Danish cultural heritage” and the strengthening of “Being Dan-
ish,” even outside Denmark: Gud, konge og fedreland! (“God, King and Father-
land!”) is its mission statement. Former functionaries of the Fremskridtspartiet
(Progress Party) had a lasting impact on the foundation of the DF. They had on
occasion formulated their politics in the tradition of the Danish resistance to Nazi
Germany and see themselves in the tradition of the Danish social welfare state
agreement. The welfare state uses the concept of the folkenationalisme to con-
vey the image of a plebiscitary nationalism, which of course has ethno-national
implications and condenses in the idea of the folkehemmat. In spite of this, the
idea of the welfare state still reverts to traditions that were historically opposed
to National Socialism, such as the Danish social democracy of the 1920s and
’30s that decisively shaped these concepts (cf. Siim and Meret 2016, p. 109 ff.).
However, this reference to the tradition hardly plays a role in their actual political
6.2 Eastern Europe: Poland, Czech Republic, Hungary
A general difference with the extreme right between Northern, Western, and
Southern Europe on the one hand and Eastern Europe on the other is the role of
religion: an enlightened concept of politics and society is signiﬁcantly further
away from the political culture of Eastern Europe, beyond party-political differ-
ence, than it is the case in other parts of Europe. The Eastern European socie-
ties are strongly inﬂuenced by a mystical and clerical form of Christianity, which
expresses itself in a reactionary gender and family image, an aggressive rejection
of homosexuality, a Christianized fear of Muslim immigration, and a religious
antisemitism, all of which dominates the political culture. Right-wing extrem-
ist parties are therefore in a strategically advantageous position on the one hand,
because important parts of their worldview are part of the entire political culture.
At the same time, however, they are also at a strategic disadvantage because, e.g.,
an anti-women policy is hardly a useful criterion for political distinction. In the
end, this means that right-wing extremist parties are, with a substantial number of
116 S. Salzborn
their positions, hardly different from the mainstream. They often ﬁnd themselves
unable to proﬁt from their positions in elections.
The Eastern European transformation of 1989/1990 changed the attitude of
the elites above all others: an opening towards the pro-European West was seen
as a guarantee of prosperous national economies. The success that right-wing
extremist parties in Eastern Europe now enjoy is mainly because the prevailing
anti-European, anti-American, and anti-Semitic sentiment, bound up with fear of
the consequences of globalization, has become increasingly more important. This
occurs because the socio-economic division within Eastern European societies
into pro-Western, pro-European and anti-Western, anti-European wings largely
goes hand-in-hand with the social-economic division of society.
Poland, with its brute-reactionary Catholicism, is surely the most striking
example of this development, which is expressed in the relationship between
the two parties Prawo i Sprawiedliwość (PiS; Law and Justice) and Liga Pols-
kich Rodzin (LPR; League of Polish Families). Both are Catholic and cleri-
cal, and position themselves as reactionaries in terms of family politics, as they
are against abortions, ﬁght against homosexuality, and ﬁght for the patriarchal,
nuclear family (cf. Fuchs 2010; Shibata 2013). While the attitude of PiS against
this background is about national sovereignty and they act with a certain distance
to the EU, the LPR holds the EU to be a Communist conspiracy and is explicitly
hostile to Europe (cf. Pankowski 2010). The LPR is ﬁrmly anti-Semitic and anti-
American, while the PiS seemingly tends towards a pro-American position. The
anti-Semitic conspiracy-delusion in the LPR reaches so far that the pro-fascist
party assumes that not only “Jews” are behind anti-Polish developments, but also
“freemasons.” The comparison of PiS and LPR shows that the national context is
central if you want to classify political parties (cf. Moroska and Zuba 2010). A
Catholic-clerical positioning of the two parties would be unthinkable—at least to
this degree of radicalism—because it is supported by an anti-Enlightenment fun-
damentalism that to a large extent is linked to a radical hostility towards human
rights. Furthermore, in connection with the ethno-national positioning of the two
parties, they are linked to a noticeable distance or direct hostility towards Europe
(cf. Lange and Guerra 2010). The resulting nationalist-Catholic picture of Poland
makes it clear that both parties can without a doubt be classiﬁed as right-wing
extremist. In the Polish context, however, clerical-Catholicism, with its patriar-
chal, anti-feminist and homophobic worldview, is not considered a part of a right-
wing extremist ideology. Instead, these beliefs are held by large sections of the
society, which shows how widely fragments of right-wing extremist ideology
are anchored in Polish society even though at the same time, these recall an anti-
German position during the Nazi occupation of Poland.
117Extreme Right-Wing Parties in and Against Europe …
For historical reasons, the Czech Republic can certainly be seen as the Eastern
European exception, especially if compared to Poland. Historical Czechoslova-
kia was the only Eastern European country with an explicitly western orientation.
The Czechoslovakian constitution, written in the inter-war period, was oriented
towards the example of France. Even the democratic creation of the country did
not correspond to the Eastern European pre-Enlightenment tradition: the inﬂu-
ence of clerical worldviews is supposed to have less relevance for everyday
politics due to liberal-enlightened concepts—even if the religious myths still (or
rather, once more) play a large role in Czech self-assurance. Moreover, in con-
trast to the traditions of many other Eastern European countries, Czech national-
ism is actually based on the history of opposition and the resistance to National
Socialism. While countries such as Croatia or Hungary are, as a matter of fact,
successor states of regimes that collaborated with the Nazis, Czechoslovakia was
antifascist from the beginning and had already fought against the National Social-
ist Sudeten German movement, even before the Nazi regime occupied and then
smashed the Czechoslovakian state. From this point, conservative positioning in
the Czech Republic has tended to have a different connotation than in other East-
ern European countries. This is also shown by the fact that although conservative-
national parties who are opposed to Europe have a great relevance in the political
system, dedicated right-wing extremist parties are comparatively unimportant and
are generally marginalized in the political system. An example for these is the
Úsvit—Národní Koalice (Dawn—National Coalition), founded in 2013 (under a
slightly different name), which is tailored to the personal proﬁle of its founder
and chairman (the Czech-Japanese entrepreneur Tomio Okamura) and, in addition
to its anti-European orientation, draws special attention with their anti-ziganist
and anti-Semitic positioning. These are always associated with extensive partisan-
ship for direct-democracy policies (cf. Havlík and Voda 2016): “The European
integration was not a topic of prominent importance for the party. Dawn preferred
an economic form of European integration and refused a Europe of ‘non-sys-
temic subsidies, allowances and bureaucrats’ (Úsvit), which moved the party to
the camp of soft-Eurosceptic political parties.” (Kaniok and Havlík 2016, p. 28)
There is no systematic positioning vis-á-vis history with Úsvit.
Hungary, on the other hand, is the diametric opposite of the Czech Republic in
Eastern Europe. Founded in 1988, the Hungarian Fidesz—Magyar Polgári Szövet-
ség (Fidesz-MPSZ; Hungarian Civic Alliance) can only be understood within the
context of the party Jobbik Magyarországért Mozgalom (Movement for a Better
Hungary), founded in 2003, because Fidesz and Jobbik practice a de facto divi-
sion of labor in Hungarian politics. While Fidesz is dismantling Hungary’s demo-
cratic structures concerning constitutional and legal processes, turning Hungary
118 S. Salzborn
into a nationalist dictatorship, Jobbik fosters the racist, anti-ziganist and anti-
Semitic struggle against democracy on the street (cf. Varga 2014)—with assaults
and extensive expulsions, such as of the homeless, among other groups. With
these two parties Hungary, as I have argued elsewhere (cf. Salzborn 2015c), has
taken its leave from Democracy and has already transformed itself into a dicta-
torship in many areas: the new constitution, the changes to Nationality Law and
Electoral Law, and also the restrictive media law, which allows a form of cen-
sorship. All of these legislative changes comprehensively include basic völkisch
assumptions, and all of them have considerably expanded the positions of power
of the ruling parties and drastically restricted the rights of the opposition. Both
parties pursue a rescaling of politics. They ground themselves extensively on pre-
modern religious traditions, and Jobbik, as an explicitly anti-Semitic party, refers
to fascist traditions as well as to the pro-Nazi Hungary under its leader Miklós
Horthy (cf. Marsovszky 2015). Liberalism is the sworn enemy of Fidesz and Job-
bik. An anti-American and anti-European attitude, combined with a pro-Russian
orientation, also links both parties, who act decidedly nationalistic, and instru-
mentalize the so-called “foreign-Hungarians” in both law and politics in order to
further their own ambitions for a Greater Hungary. They combine their nation-
alist principles with an imperial-annexationist claim. Jobbik directly references
to fascist and National Socialist models, while Fidesz more closely references
the traditions of the Catholic Empire of the Magyars, a nationalistically deﬁned
nation within the soon-to-be-revived Magyar Királyság. This is the meant to be
“Kingdom of Hungary”, which refers in Hungarian in addition to its autocratic-
aristocratic dimension also to a clearly völkisch connotation due to the reference
to Magyar culture (cf. Marsovszky 2011). The differences that can be drawn
between Fidesz and Jobbik can be found in the strategic occupation of thematic
areas: Jobbik often formulates the radical ideas which Fidesz then de facto imple-
ments politically, while domestically, Jobbik fulﬁlls the function of a seismo-
graph for Fidesz (Mareš and Havlík 2016). They reveal how far the nationalist
de-democratization of Hungary can be driven by society, and how radically the
nationalist ideals of Hungary can be implemented violently.
6.3 Southern Europe: Portugal, Italy, Greece
The Portuguese Partido Nacional Renovador (PNR; National Renovator Party)
was founded in 2000 by a coalition of extreme right-wing forces in order to over-
come the weakness of extreme right-wing parties on the political agenda, which
had existed since the overthrow of the Salazarian regime in a military coup in
119Extreme Right-Wing Parties in and Against Europe …
1974. The PNR acts decidedly in an anti-Semitic, anti-Muslim and anti-femi-
nist manner; with its anti-EU-position, it focusses on the idea of a “Europe of
nations,” which consequently also leads to a cooperation with the German NPD
and the French FN. The PNR is strictly against immigration and has rejected
the Euro-African orientation of Lusitanian nationalism, which has been typical
of Portugal for a long time. It is geared towards a worldview shaped by Catholi-
cism and characterized by an anti-American and an anti-European attitude, since
these two potential hegemonies are viewed as a weakening of national identity
and at the same time suspected of preparing for a “global world government” (cf.
Marchi 2013, p. 144 f.). The PNR ideology directly succeeds the authoritarian
and counter-revolutionary traditions of the clerical-fascist Estado Novo in Portu-
gal and the person of António de Oliveira Salazar. However, this ideology is less
targeted at re-establishing the regime, but rather it seeks to enshrine the regime’s
positions in the political system of Portugal (cf. Zúquete 2007; Marchi 2010).
While the founding of the PNR was strongly marked by the former protagonist
of the Estado Novo, the maintenance of the Salazarian tradition—which, in con-
trast to other extreme right-wing movements in Europe, includes the notion of
Portugal as an imperial and colonial but multiethnic state—time and again leads
to internal party conﬂicts with supporters of the decidedly racist wing (cf. Marchi
Portugal is historically a special case insofar as it is hard to compare with the
genesis of other extreme right-wing parties regarding this “multicultural” dimen-
sion. Meanwhile, Italy is also a special case insofar that parts of its extreme right-
wing movements—depending on their local or regional orientation—descended
directly from historical fascism, while other parts ﬁrmly distance themselves
The Lega Nord per l’Indipendenza della Padania (LN; North League for the
Independence of Padania) was founded in 1989 and is one of the oldest extreme
right-wing parties in Europe. Traditionally, it embraces an approach that, due to
the socio-economic polarization of the Italian North and South, combines wel-
fare chauvinist positions with ethnic separatist ideas (cf. on the history of the LN:
Pallaver 2012). The LN is integrated in the pan-European network of decidedly
ethno-regionalist and völkisch parties and movements, which includes, among
others, the Belgian Vlaams Belang, the Austrian FPOe and the political spec-
trum of the New Right at large, which demands an ethno-regional fragmentation
of Europe. In its regionalist approach, the LN takes an anti-Italian position and
combines its ethnicizing and homogenizing policy with racist differentiations (cf.
Bull 2010) which are mostly enunciated with regard to globalization. The primary
focus of the LN lies on its federalist secessionism, which, in its ethnic orientation,
120 S. Salzborn
rejects democratic national states and supranational associations of states such
as the EU. Its slogan Più lontani da Roma, più vicini all’Europa (“Further away
from Rome, closer to Europe”) shows that the LN, above all, wants an ethno-
regional separation, rejecting “Rome” (as a synonym for the Italian national state)
in favor of “Europe” (as a synonym for a splintered Europe as a result of ethno-
regional separatism) (cf. Huysseune 2010). In its decidedly ethno-regionalist
orientation that is directed against all centralistic concepts and rejects the Italian
national state, the LN as an extreme right-wing party is a special case in Europe.
It does not refer back to its appropriate historical (right-wing) model.
The Greek case, by contrast, constitutes an open and unequivocal reference to
Nazi traditions. The Greek Chrysí Avgí (Golden Dawn), which evolved from the
environment of an identically named magazine and was founded in 1985, is an
ideologically openly neo-Nazi party representing a racist and ethnic world view
and making expansionist demands with a view to the neighbor states of Greece.
The racism of Chrysí Avgí is based on the aspect of descent, which links it
directly to NS-racism: “Although Golden Dawn opposes immigration and is hos-
tile to the immigrants themselves, it is not a typical anti-immigrant party. Sup-
porting the model of an ethno-culturally homogeneous state, the party deﬁnes
nationality in terms of ‘race, blood and ancestry.’ In this view, immigrants endan-
ger the racial homogeneity of the nation and should be compelled to leave the
country immediately.” (Georgiadou 2013, p. 88). Party ofﬁcials extensively refer
to NS-protagonists and the Greek fascists around Ioannis Metaxas are strongly
inspired by National Socialism, which is expressed by the party also in its sym-
bolic politics. It maintains contact with most neo-Nazi and neo-fascist parties in
Europe, including NPD and Jobbik. In addition to its legal arm, Chrysí Avgí also
maintains a paramilitary wing with intense criminal activities.
6.4 Western Europe: Germany, France, Belgium
To count the Federal Republic of Germany as a part of Western Europe does fol-
low the ofﬁcial cartography of the United Nations but is not entirely unproblem-
atic. When making this reference to western traditions, the fact that historically,
the traditional orientation in Germany was an ethnic anti-western one as well
as the fact that the ethnic German nationality law was only changed a few years
ago, are only too easily overlooked. Thus, the assignment of Germany to West-
ern Europe has to be understood as a merely geographical one and not an histor-
ical-political one. The two important extreme right-wing parties in Germany, the
Nationaldemokratische Partei Deutschlands (NPD; National Democratic Party of
121Extreme Right-Wing Parties in and Against Europe …
Germany) and the Alternative für Deutschland (AfD; Alternative for Germany)
differ primarily with regard to their emergence—and over the course of the AfD’s
existence less and less so with regard to their party objectives.
The NPD was founded in 1964 with the ambition to combine the entire
extreme right-wing spectrum: besides former members of the NSDAP and the
Waffen-SS, also former members of the forbidden (Nazi) Sozialistische Reich-
spartei (SRP; Socialist Reich Party of Germany) took part in founding the party.
Even though the NPD has articulated this tradition sometimes more and some-
times less radically, in its entire history it has been a neo-Nazi party in which
Holocaust deniers have even managed to attain the position of chairman. In their
orientation, they openly pursued NS-concepts—including all their racist, ethnic,
anti-Semitic and historical-revisionist elements. In contrast to the NPD, in 2013
the AfD was founded as an explicitly anti-EU party and, up to its split in 2015,
it endeavored to distance itself in its own neoliberal right-conservative position
from openly neo-Nazi movements. This has radically changed since the split
of the party: The AfD has positioned itself as openly antisemitic and racist, and
important party ofﬁcials have been promoting the re-establishment of NS-terms
such as Volksgemeinschaft (ethnic community) or völkisch (cf. Salzborn 2017).
They also aggressively advocate a positive reference to pre-Nazi thinkers and
articulate the German victim myth. While the NPD is primarily geared towards
an imperial positioning, in the AfD, ideas of the New Right are more strongly
enshrined in an ethnopluralist-ethnic disintegration policy.
While right-wing extremists in Germany have acted in accordance with a citi-
zenship law that is phrased in terms of categories of ethnic descent, the extreme
right in France demands the exact opposite. In its long-lasting central demand
for the introduction of the (ethnic) German nationality law in France, the French
Front National (FN), founded in 1972, is inversely paradox in relation to the
federal German right-wing extremism. It acts against the republican concepts of
the state with this extreme right-wing demand and using the German constitu-
tional reality as a model under its former chairperson, Jean-Marie Le Pen, the FN
decidedly strived to rehabilitate the historical fascism of the interwar years, of
the Vichy regime and of anti-Semitic attitudes (cf. Schmid 1997; Mondon 2015).
However, this has changed in the 1990s due to the inﬂuence of Bruno Mégret
and even more so in the nineties under Marine Le Pen (cf. Almeida 2014). The
motives to part with the historical reference to the fascism of the interwar years
were primarily related to an election strategy, as the FN does not consider it stra-
tegically useful to connect its own racist and mostly anti-Muslim rhetoric with
anti-Semitic traditions (cf. Mayer 2016; Reynié 2016). One rather wanted to
reach public dédiabolisation of the FN by consciously avoiding certain topics and
122 S. Salzborn
notions (cf. Almeida 2013; Schmid 2014). However, in this context, the speciﬁc
French tradition concerning its colonial past in Northern Africa is also important:
Jews were generally rather considered as “allies” against the Muslim population
to be colonized, which is also an important historical reference for today’s posi-
tioning of the FN. In its geostrategic orientation, the FN pursues national-central-
istic approaches in whose speciﬁc historical context the changing references to
ﬁrst fascist but then mostly colonial traditions have to be understood.
The Belgian Vlaams Belang (VB; Flemish Interest), which was founded in
2004 as the successor organization of the Vlaams Blok, stands for an explicitly
ethnic-separatist approach (cf. Pauwels 2011). This approach not only includes a
racist refusal of immigration, but in view of the multiethnic and multilingual real-
ity of Belgium also a fundamental hostility towards any form of multiculturalism.
The reference to a speciﬁc ethnic separate identity of the “Flemish” is brought to
the fore under the slogan eigen volk eerst, which is not only directed against the
European Union, but with the rallying cry Splits Belgie also against the Belgian
national state (cf. Swyngedouw et al. 2008). One ﬁghts for an independent state
of Vlaanderen, which one does see as a part of Europe, but the European Union
is decidedly rejected (cf. VB 2014). In its self-legitimation, the Flemish-ethnic
movement explicitly refers to separatist traditions in the 19th and the early 20th
century and also to the Flemish collaboration with National Socialism. Thus, in
the two respects that are crucial for the comparison of central dimensions, the VB
with its extreme right-wing orientation represents a position which is almost dia-
metrically opposed to that of the French FN.
7 Conclusion: Comparison of the Extreme
Right-Wing in Europe
From the systematic comparison of the twelve countries, the following overall
picture (Fig. 1) emerges, schematized (and thus, as with every schematization,
simpliﬁed and shortened).
The systematic comparison of the extreme right-wing parties in Europe shows
that focusing on the regional-political dimension in their concepts is very use-
ful. If one wants to understand the relation between the nationally organized par-
ties and the de facto supranational structured space of “Europe,” it is important
to place their populist, national and European concepts in the center. Moreover,
this comparative dimension also reveals the areas where the claims of individual
right-wing extremist parties collide with those of other right-wing extremist par-
ties—most obvious are the examples of VB and LN. It is surprising—though it
123Extreme Right-Wing Parties in and Against Europe …
potentially will not remain the case as more examples are studies—that a look at
the twelve sample countries chosen for the classiﬁcation yields no single example
in which a völkisch-regional or ethno-pluralistic variety of right-wing extremism
seeks to legitimize itself with a historical reference to premodern traditions.
This result certainly appears surprising at ﬁrst sight. However, research on
comparative nationalism has already shown that national traditions are continu-
ously invented, as is most clearly demonstrated in Benedict Anderson’s “inven-
tion of tradition”. Moreover, the belief that ethnicities have a longer real tradition
Historical referenceAbsence of
… to the premodern
… to Fascism or
* above all strategic restrictions with a view to Fascist/National Socialist traditions
Fig. 1 Right-wing extremist parties in Europe in systematic comparison. (Own visualization)
124 S. Salzborn
than the nation and nation-states is a historically false prejudice that is handed
down by the right-wing conservative-völkisch side of etymology. The opposite is
true, as the ﬁndings of social-scientiﬁc ethnicity research substantiates. The con-
cepts of “ethnicity” and “ethnic group” are a feature of modern ideology which
was ﬁrst invented in opposition to the modern (bourgeois) nation-state. These
concepts are directed against the modern nation-state and use premodern social
conﬁgurations such as tribes or clans to invent a legitimating story for their own
actions. The concepts are just as much a social construction as is that of the
nation—however, they are generally directed against the nation, which in turn
can be thought of either as republican/enlightenment or as ethnic/völkisch. Even
if adding further case studies could modify this result, because völkisch-regional
and ethno-pluralistic concepts of Europe can of course also irrationally speak to
a premodern tradition, the absence of such a reference is historically consistent.
Pointing out those who do reference history is just as important as to highlight
those who forgo a reference to history, as they objectively stand within this tradi-
tion no matter how they wish themselves to be seen—is to point out those who
forego a reference to history. Forgoing history, if not always, occurs for strate-
gic reasons: the knowledge that their own inﬂuence would probably be reduced
if they were to openly concede that they are plagiarizing fascist and/or National
Socialist goals. UKIP and FN are excellent examples of this approach. Since the
völkisch concept of LN actually conﬂicts with the concept of Italian Fascism, it
is perhaps the only example of a right-wing extremist party that can credibly dis-
tance itself from historical fascism. This is because its völkisch claim is mutually
exclusive with that of the Italian Fascist power politics. However, the respective
party histories of all other right-wing extremist parties show that their denial of a
historical reference is not well substantiated.
What the comparison also shows is that the category of “populism” is indeed
completely dispensable for the comparison of right-wing extremist parties in
Europe because the question of whether they are populist is extremely dependent
on the political structures in place. This is in contrast to their concepts of Europe
and the question of their historical reference, which are both largely stable over
a long period. In addition, both dimensions relate to the programmatic substance
of right-wing extremist parties. The mutual overlaps show that all categories used
for the classiﬁcation conﬁrm an afﬁliation to a completely heterogeneous but nev-
ertheless integrated family of right-wing extremist parties.
Taking a more detailed look at European Studies, the comparison shows two
things: the spatial dimension is brought to the fore more strongly, while the
aspect of ethnic afﬁliation was underestimated. Thus, the questions of the concept
of Europe and the conception of history ultimately deal with two fundamental
125Extreme Right-Wing Parties in and Against Europe …
dimensions. In the ﬁrst case, i.e., the concept of Europe, the extreme right focuses
on dimensions of spatial order, which as regulative categories constitute differ-
ent options. In the end, they are generally anti-democratic since both variants are
interested in an ethnic spatial order that supports rigid demarcations and wants to
prevent any form of migration. Differences only lie in the question of who is to
have the dominant regulatory position in Europe and whether it is to be organized
regionally or centrally. In the second case, the historical dimension, it becomes
apparent that some of the parties make historical references and that any disso-
ciation from National Socialism, fascism or collaborating regimes almost always
only occurs for strategic reasons, while often such references or associations are
even made openly. For political controversy, the key point causing confusion is
the failure to make this reference, and this point should be actively a subject of
discussion. Looking at this historical political dimension can show that the anti-
democratic nature of the parties has not changed in any way; instead, they are just
pursuing different strategic options to reach their goals. Exactly these strategic
options, which are sometimes classiﬁed as “populist,” should not distract us, but
rather more attention should be paid to the thematic core.
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