Amid all the hair pulling and teeth gnashing by the Eurocrats and their overly paid pundits in the media about how the European Parliament electoral victories of the Eurosceptic French National Front, UK Independence Party, Danish People’s Party, and other “far right” parties could spell the imminent doom for the European Union, some level-headed observations are in order. Just as Europe’s once avowedly Marxist-Leninist Communist parties now sing the praises of the European Union, along with their once anti-capitalist friends in the European Green Party movement, the “neo-fascists” have moderated and can no longer be called “neo-Nazi” or totally opposed to European integration. Most of the Eurosceptic parties, for example, are supporters of NATO, which many believe is merely an American-led military enforcement arm of the EU.
It is also important to note that the largest winner of the recent elections for the European Parliament resulted in a major win for apathy. Turnout was low across Europe, even in countries like Lithuania and Belgium where national elections were held and in the UK and Ireland where local elections were run concurrently with the EU Parliament polling.
The major news that has gone largely unreported by the European media and the U.S. press, which is spoon-fed its content by the European big media houses, is that what was “far right” once with the French National Front and other right-wing parties is no longer the case, especially when it comes to these parties’ new support and advocacy for Israel.
Although the National Democrats of Germany, Golden Dawn of Greece, and Jobbik of Hungary have definite anti-Semitic elements, other far-right parties, such as the National Front of France, the Party for Freedom of the Netherlands, Austrian Freedom Party, and the Sweden Democrats (and Greater Romania, which was locked out of the new European Parliament due to a poor electoral finish), have scrapped anti-Semitic rhetoric.
Many far-right parties sought and received accommodations with the Israeli right-wing, particularly the Likud Party, and Jewish groups within their respective nations. Some of the leaders of these formerly “neo-Nazi” parties have even accepted invitations by Likud and the Israeli settler’s movement to visit Israel. In December 2010, Austrian FPO leader Heinz-Christian Strache led a delegation of far-right European parties to Israel where they issued the “Jerusalem Declaration.” The declaration affirmed Israel’s right to exist, its establishment of settlements in the occupied West Bank, and its need to take whatever actions necessary to defend itself from “Islamic terrorism.” It was a major shift for the FPO, which once supported Iraq’s Saddam Hussein against Israeli “Zionism” and U.S. “imperialism.” The FPO’s move to the center is even more astounding in light of the fact that Strache’s predecessor as FPO leader, Jorg Haider, was once called “Hitler’s spiritual grandson.”
Joining Strache in Israel in December 2010 were Filip Dewinter, the leader of the Flemish Interest (Vlaams Belang) party, a former neo-Nazi party; Geert Wilders, the Islamophobe leader of the Netherlands Party for Freedom; German Freedom Party leader Rene Stadtkewitz; and Kent Ekeroth, Sweden Democrat member of the Swedish Parliament.
The strategy by Israel with regard to the far-right parties worked. The common foe of the Israeli right-wing parties and many of the European nationalist parties is now Islam. This manifestation was seen in the writings of Norwegian mass killer Anders Breivik, the former member of the far-right Norwegian Progress Party who expressed his support for Israel while ostensibly finding common ground with neo-fascist parties in Germany.
With regard to NATO, the far-right provides support for the continued maintenance of the U.S.-led military alliance and a continued U.S. military presence in Europe. There is nothing very “Nazi” about extending a welcome to the military forces of a nation that largely helped defeat the armies of Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini some 70 years ago. However, the Austrian FPO, Sweden Democrats, and Finns Party are not so opposed to their nations’ scrapping their traditional neutrality and joining NATO. The French National Front and the UKIP, while not expressly for or against NATO, have voiced their support for Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Ukraine matter, stances that surely do not put them in the good graces of the EU/NATO powers in Brussels.
There has also been a tendency to confuse the large scale entry of right-wing parties into the European Parliament with the popularity of secessionist parties. Secessionist does not imply “fascist” or anti-EU, especially since the Scottish National Party (SNP), which will vie with London on an independence referendum in September, has favored keeping an independent Scotland within the EU even if England and Wales choose to leave it. The same holds true for Catalonia, which sees membership in the EU as a way to wean itself from control by Madrid.
There was a glitch with regard to the SNP’s support for the EU in the recent election. The Scottish nationalists failed to pick up Scotland’s third allotted EU parliamentary seat. The seat, which had been held by the all-but-totally vanquished Liberal Democrats, went to the anglophile UKIP. The UKIP is strongly opposed to Scottish independence and it even opposed devolved powers for Scotland. In essence, the SNP failed to grasp the anti-EU feelings among the Scottish electorate even though many Scots may also favor independence. Some SNP officials are already trying to steer their party’s past support for the EU to a less pro-Brussels viewpoint.
The SNP and their Welsh Plaid Cymru colleagues have always been considered left-of-center and certainly not in the right-wing camp. The same applies to the Catalonian nationalists, a movement that is divided between a center-right party and extreme leftists.
The entrance of a large bloc of Eurosceptic parties into the Strasbourg parliament has resulted in confusion among the right, the center, and the left. Perhaps, this is because the old labels applied to the political spectrum are no longer applicable. Even the spectrum no longer applies . . . This can be seen in the shifting alliances among the European Parliamentary groups.
For example, the first place win for the National Front of France has made it a major alliance kingmaker in the new parliament. National Front leader Marine Le Pen immediately set about to create a new nationalistic and anti-EU alliance, called the European Freedom Alliance (EFA) with the Dutch Freedom Party of Geert Wilders, the Austrian Freedom Party, the Belgian Vlaams Belang, the Italian Lega Nord, the Slovak National Party, and the Sweden Democrats. The Lega Nord indicated it was leaving the European Alliance of Freedom and Democracy (EFD) of the UKIP to join the new EFA. The EFD was also to lose the Danish People’s Party and the Finns Party to the British Conservative-dominated European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR), a marked move to the center for both right-wing parties. However, the EFD appeared likely to pick up the rather quirky and off-beat Polish Congress of the New Right (KNP) as a member.
The EFD and ECR are vying for the support of other new parties in parliament, including the anti-Euro Alternative fuer Deutschland (AfD), the Independent Greeks (ANEL), and the Ordinary People and Independent Personalities (OLANO) of Slovenia.
Without the support of the other far-right parties, the neo-Nazis from Greece, Hungary, and Germany lack the minimum requirement for having a recognized bloc in parliament. The rule is that a bloc must have members of parliament elected from at least one-quarter of the EU member states. The shift from “far right” to the center by the parties from Austria, Denmark, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark, and Finland, has resulted in no parliamentary clubs for the Nazis to engage in any beer hall putsches in Strasbourg.
So, right from the start, there is a major split among the right-wing parties entering the European Parliament. The wailing and angst from the Eurocrats and their media sycophants appears to have been wasted exercises.
This article originally appeared in Strategic Culture Foundation on-line journal.
Wayne Madsen is a Washington, DC-based investigative journalist and nationally-distributed columnist. He is the editor and publisher of the Wayne Madsen Report (subscription required).