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Results of the 2014 European elections push up anti-Semites and racists, attacks on immigrants increase. 

Elections to the European Parliament have opened the door to anti-immigrant far right nationalists, anti-Semites and racists in the United Kingdom, France and other countries across the continent.   While the keys to parliamentary power have not been handed to these insurgent parties, the recent elections are likely to move anti-immigrant programs into the middle of Europe’s national policy making bodies.  And it will slow any moves towards greater centralization in the European Union (EU). 

For Americans, the elections show that nationalists like the Tea Party and even white nationalists have organized their own parties and won spots inside the European Parliament. In many cases it was long term anti-EU, anti-immigrant organizing that won the day, rather than a quickly evaporating protest or simple anti-establishment vote.  Again, small “d” democrats should not regard this election as an ephemeral event with little impact.  Already, the Tories are moving to tighten their immigration policy at home in response to the strong showing to their right.

This was not an election for any of the national parliaments or assemblies.  The European Parliament, with 751 seats, is primarily a consultative and deliberative body.  It does have the parliamentary power to vote on legislation, but it does not have the power to initiate it.  That power resides with the much smaller, appointed members of the European Commission.  As an elected body, the parliament comes closest to representing the will of the people of Europe.  With elections held on a proportional rather than winner take all bases, Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) come from almost every political direction.

Further, voter turnout was about 43%, smallish by European standards. By way of comparison, voter turnout in the 2010 elections in the United States was 41% overall, while some states such as New Jersey dipped down to 35%.  Turnout in Germany this year was higher, at 49%, but overall less than half of eligible voters pick the legislators for one and all.  Nevertheless, the impact from these elections will be felt first and longest in the countries of Europe’s respective national immigration politics.

In Germany a National Socialist (neo-Nazi) Party Gets a Seat

From Germany, the Alliance for Germany (AfD), won about 7% of the vote, and will take about seven seats in the European Parliament.  This party considers the Euro a failed currency.  Nevertheless, it is officially at odds with making alliances with those parties further to its right.  Internally, however, it is split, much like the Tea Party movement, between members who ultimately seek a home in German conservatism and those who are more radical.  Also, the National Democratic Party of Germany (NDP), which openly marches under the banner of “national socialism,” received enough votes to win one seat. At one time, the NDP worked with Turner Diary author William Pierce and his National Alliance. Now the NDP leader, which won only one percent of the vote, will receive the substantial salary of an MEP courtesy of the European Union. 

United Kingdom Results Will Reverberate in Home Parliament

In the United Kingdom, British National Party mini-fuehrer Nick Griffin lost his seat in the Euro-elections. That was the BNP’s last seat and losing it will turn the party to a new organizing strategy.  This party also once worked with William Pierce and the National Alliance. Griffin said that they will next set up food banks for “our people,” meaning white Christian Britons.  This idea comes from Greece’s Golden Dawn neo-Nazis, and whether the BNP will succeed at that venture is far from certain. 

The United Kingdom Independence Party, best known as UKIP, has taken over many of the BNP voters for now, while keeping BNP members outside of it ranks.  When UKIP held a conference in Torquay last February, on the UK’s southwest coast, it opened up under the banner of a BNP slogan, according to Searchlight magazine in London.  Indeed, UKIP has flitted between “civic nationalism and ethnic nationalism,” according to Searchlight.  With over 30,000 members and 147 domestic council seats in place before this election, it was already a power in the UK.  It lacked members of the English Parliament, however, and this election did not change that fact.  Nevertheless, UKIP received almost 27% of the recent vote, tallying more votes than any other political party in the UK, including the ruling Tories.

The effect on British conservatives was almost immediate. “Tough new rules to limit immigration from the European Union are planned by Conservatives in an attempt to stem the flow of votes to the UK Independence Party,” according to a May 25 article in The Independent

France: As Could Be Expected, Racist Front National Wins

The Front National (FN) has been a well-known since before its founder, Jean-Marie Le Pen, described Hitler’s gas chambers as a footnote of history. This author personally witnessed the FN’s 1988 May Day parade in Paris: 40,000 racists marched row after row, organized largely by the arrondissement in which they lived.  In the first round of the French presidential primaries that year, Jean-Marie Le Pen won 4.4 million votes, about 14.7%.  After the 1989 European Parliamentary elections, Jean-Marie Le Pen took an MEP seat and organized the Technical Bloc of the European Right of a number of hard right racist parties inside the Euro Parliament.  The bloc spent large sums of money, initiated several resolutions, but otherwise the bloc broke up because of political differences that originated in their home countries.

When Marine Le Pen followed her father at the helm of the party in 2011, she began turning the large core of the party towards a kinder, gentler racism and xenophobia, as IREHR noted at that time.  In 2012 she visited the United States in a set of face-changing maneuvers, finagled meetings with Republican conservatives and libertarians, including Cong. Ron Paul, Cong. Joe Walsh of Illinois, and a Palm Beach, Florida AIPAC donor, William Diamond.  In French presidential elections that year, the Front National won a stunning 17.9% of the vote during the first round; a sure sign the her strategy of enlarging the FN’s bloc of racist voters was working.

In the Euro election this time, FN won 25% of the vote, more than any other French party.  When considering this vote, please remember that Marine Le Pen had already won 18% in a presidential vote, and that her nearest, more establishment conservative competitor, Nicholas Sarkozy’s Union for a Popular Movement (UMP), was recently hit with revelations of financial improprieties.  In the past, UMP has spent a considerable amount of energy copying the FN’s anti-immigrant racism.  So this time voters pulled the lever for the FN, rather than a substitute.  This was a real vote, not a protest vote.  And it is not impossible for Marine Le Pen to dream of winning the presidency at some point.   

In Hungary with Jobbik, Greece with Golden Dawn, and in countries across Europe—East and West—nationalism, anti-immigrant racism, anti-Semitism and opposition to the European Union drove large sections of voters.   Other sections of voters, it must be noted, are repelled by these sentiments, and elect democrats, feminists, anti-racists and socialists.  In Europe, as in the United States, the political center is weak and we should expect greater levels of polarization.

2014 Far Right Euro-Election Results

Leonard Zeskind

Author Leonard Zeskind

is founder of IREHR. For almost four decades, he has been a leading authority on white nationalist political and social movements. He is the author of Blood and Politics: The History of White Nationalism from the Margins to the Mainstream, published by Farrar Straus & Giroux in May 2009. [more..]

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