Europe’s Fight Against the Far-Right

Source: Roar Magazine

Across Europe, far-right parties and movements have been gathering steam over the past years — anti-fascists have been organizing in response.

Trumpism is not a uniquely American phenomenon, it is in line with the national populist insurrection happening worldwide in the midst of neoliberal and climate catastrophe. What anchored this growth in Europe is the emergence of far-right parties and coalitions manipulating fears over immigration and instability to unseat social democracy’s role in working class life.

Independent journalist Patrick Strickland has been covering the explosion of Europe’s far-right and the shifting antifascist movement that is responding to it. His recent book Alerta! Alerta!: Snapshots of Europe’s Anti-fascist Struggle (AK Press, 2018) breaks down the conflict into moments of insight, looking into the stories of the people resting at the center of the fight against emerging fascism.

Shane Burley: The book is structured around five different European countries, Italy, Slovakia, Germany, Croatia, and Greece and it chronicles the flourishing of far-right populism and fascist violence across Europe. What do you think is responsible for the explosive growth of European populist parties and these anti-immigrant, far-right social movements?

Patrick Strickland: I think it varies quite a bit from country to country. The refugee crisis was a really convenient catalyst for some far-right groups, especially those that were already rooted in anti-migrant, anti-refugee or anti-Muslim sentiment. The Alternative for Deutschland (AfD) party in Germany, for instance, started out as a Eurosceptic, far-right party, less focused on broad politics. When the refugee influx really picked up in 2013 they were able to capitalize on it in a way that won them a significant number of seats in the parliament during the 2017 elections, a total of 94 out of 598, or 12.6 percent of the total vote .

In Greece, however, the far-right has not grown in the last couple of years. Golden Dawn has never tried to disguise themselves; to put on a populist mask like other far-right parties have. So they have not been able to capitalize on racist responses to the influx of refugees. They had their biggest success when they capitalized on the traditional left’s failed response towards the Greek economic crisis and austerity. From all that we can see, and there are other factors of course, currently they receive about the same amount of support — between 6 and 9 percent —as in 2012, when they first entered parliament, and in 2015, when they had another strong showing.

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