Fact File: The Far Right in Europe


Norwegian Anders Breivik may have acted alone, but his trial for the murder of 77 people shone a spotlight on far right politics across Europe.

In the last ten years a backlash against immigration, the financial crisis and widespread disillusion with mainstream political parties has created fertile soil for the growth of a new kind of far right populism.

Gone is the racist rhetoric and anti-semitism of 20th century fascists. In its place is a criticism of multiculturalism that crosses over into centre right politics, and an anti-Islamism with the power to unite far right groups across European borders. In March 2012, the UK’s English Defence League (EDL) joined other groups in Aarhus, Denmark to protest the “Islamification of Europe” . Despite poor attendance, the event, along with reports of Anders Breivik’s online relationship with the EDL highlighted how social media is enabling a pan-European far right consensus to emerge.

While on the streets Neo-Nazi gangs commit heinous crimes in Germany, Russia and elsewhere,  non-violent far right parties are serious electoral contenders in France, Sweden, Holland and Austria. In Germany the slang term Stiefelnazis (“Boot Nazis”) has been updated. It is now Kravattennazis (“Tie Nazis”).

The Numbers

63% of the online supporters of far right groups are under 30. Source:  Demos

25,000 – The number of right-wing extremists living in Germany Source: Der Spiegel

58% of UK respondents associate Islam with extremism Source: BBC News UK

58.3% of BNP members strongly believe that “violence between different ethnic, racial or religious groups is largely inevitable." Source: Chatham House

Further Reading

Who are Breivik’s Fellow Travellers? Daniel Trilling, New Statesman, 2012

The New Face of Digital Populism, Demos, 2011

Nineteenth Report: Roots of violent radicalisation, Home Affairs Committee, 2012

From Voting To Violence: Exploring Far Right Extremists in Modern Britain, Dr Matthew Goodwin, Professor Jocelyn Evans, Chatham House, 2012



June 2009 – BNP leader Nick Griffin is elected as a member of the European Parliament for North West England

March 2009 – The English Defence League emerges in Luton in response to protests against troops returning from Afghanistan

July 2011 – Anders Breivik murders 77 people in the name of far right ideology

April 2012 – Under the leadership of Marine le Pen France’s Front National win between 18 and 20 per cent of the first round presidential vote

May 2012 – Golden Dawn, a Greek neo-Nazi party win 7 per cent of the vote, earning them 21 seats in Greek Parliament.