Fascism and the EU

Welcome to the first edition of “Fascism and the EU”, wherein we track the movements of the far-right political parties that are currently gathering into a single dark storm cloud over the European Union.

With elections for the European Parliament scheduled for May, and several far-right parties uniting in an attempt to determine their outcome, we will be monitoring the events closely, and pledge to inform you if things begin to escalate in the direction of Drang nach Osten.

The trends we observed across the EU included a rise in Euroscepticism, the entrance of once-fringe parties into the political mainstream, rampant Islamophobia, “austerity weariness”, and a fear of Romanians unseen in Europe since Vlad Tepes emerged from a Transylvanian village in the 15th century.

In civilized, enlightened Great Britain, Eastern Europeans aren't welcome.
The enlightened Western European democracies have recently embraced traditionally “Balkanist” features such as ultranationalism, xenophobia, and ethnic cleansing.

France:

Marine Le Pen and her right-wing National Front continue to surge in the polls. A brand new survey gave a staggering 24 percent of the vote to National Front — making it the most popular party in France ahead of the European elections in May 2014. For the first time in the party’s 41-year existence, the xenophobic National Front leads before a national election.

The party was founded by Marine Le Pen’s somewhat notorious father, Jean-Marie, who hated Jews. Since becoming National Front’s president in 2011, Madame Le Pen has tried to spruce up the party’s image and rid it of all its old Nazi associations — by swapping anti-Semitism for Islamophobia (Though she still thinks “Jewish skull caps” should be banned). All the same, Le Pen announced last week that she would sue anyone who dared characterize National Front as “extreme right”. She argues that the new divide in French politics is not between the right and left, but between globalism and nationalism. What this means is that National Front hates immigrants, and right now, they really hate immigrants from Eastern Europe.

Marine Le Pen has modernized National Front, the party her father founded in 1972. The party has shifted its focus from 20th century anti-Semitism to 21st century Islamophobia.
Not your father’s religious hatred: Marine Le Pen has modernized National Front, by making the party much more Islamophobic.

Just a few weeks ago, Le Pen gave her predictable opinion about Romania and Bulgaria’s admission into the Schengen Zone on January 1, 2014:

“Romania and Bulgaria will be full members of the European Union. Without being yet in the Schengen area, the movement of Romanians and Bulgarians in the EU, including the Roma population, will be even easier than now.” She urged all politicians to “make it very clear” that France, as a country, would not sit idly by and allow the free movement of Romanians and Bulgarians on its territory.

Meanwhile, under the current and ostensibly more “humane” socialist government, France has continued its brutal ethnic cleansing campaign against Roma from Eastern Europe that started with Sarkozy’s first expulsions in 2010. Tens of thousands of Roma — at least 30,000, probably many more — have been forcibly deported or paid to “self-deport” to Romania and Bulgaria. At least two young Roma men have been shot by French police, and two Roma women and a 12-year-old girl were intentionally burned to death in a Paris suburb this summer.

Great Britain:

Over on the wretched isle, the United Kingdom Independence Party or UKIP is the fastest growing political option in the country, and some say it could become the biggest British party in the European Parliament come May.

That’s a bit odd because the party’s leader, Nigel Farage, says he’s “waged a 20-year campaign to get Britain to leave the EU”. In fact, one of the main reasons why UKIP has enjoyed renewed popularity over the course of the last year is because the party’s staunch anti-Brussels stance has grown more appealing to the increasingly Europhobic British electorate.

Expressing belligerent hostility towards migrants has also worked well as a UKIP recruitment tool. The British press fanned the flames of the populist frenzy, whipping up so much anti-Eastern European migrant hysteria that a petition to “stop allowing nationals of Bulgaria and Romania ‘free movement’” has exceeded its goal of 100,000 supporters by more than 50,000 signatures, prompting a reaction from the British Home Office.

"Wish You Weren't Here"
“Wish You Weren’t Here”

Last month, Nigel Farage called ordinary citizens of Bulgaria and Romania who planned to seek work in Britain, “criminal bands”. In a separate interview also given last month, Farage said that Romanians and Bulgarians are “living like animals” in their homelands, which will naturally draw them to “a civilized country.” Oh, and he’s not racist.

But UKIP is a vocal opponent of “political correctness” in British public life, and hasn’t been afraid to argue that multiculturalism has “split” British society — whatever that means.

Ah wretched isle, once called Great!

The Netherlands:

Geert Wilders could be the most dangerous of them all. In recent months, he’s gathered far-right parties together from across Europe into a single right-wing alliance that will campaign as a united “mass right movement” before May’s European elections. So far, the group includes Marine Le Pen’s aforementioned National Front in France, Vlaams Belang in Belgium, Democrats for Sweden, Alternative for Germany, the Northern League in Italy, and Geert Wilders’s own Freedom Party in the Netherlands.

White nationalist internet forums are ecstatic about the news. Far-right activists agree it’s a great time for “the movement”. But what does it mean for everybody else?

In the past, Geert Wilders’s political life was predominantly defined by his almost fanatical preoccupation with Islam. His Freedom Party still wants to ban the Koran, the burka, and Halal meat. According to Wilders, none of them are “compatible with Dutch values.”

These days, he seems to be experimenting with a more confrontational, populist style of politics. He’s even started organizing his own street protests.

On September 9, Wilders demonstrated against Eastern European immigration in front of the Romanian embassy. He had a special traffic sign made for the occasion. It read “No Access“, in Romanian and Dutch. For a short while, the sign was actually posted in front of the embassy building.

"No Access": Geert Wilders poses with his customized traffic sign made for Romanians in the Netherlands
“No Access”: Geert Wilders poses with his customized traffic sign for would-be Romanian migrant workers in the Netherlands

But Romanian diplomats responded fairly quickly, and invited the Freedom Party leader inside to discuss his “concerns”. They must have been very patient people. When Wilders emerged from the embassy, he reported that he’d been “received well” and “listened to” by the Romanian staff.

Unfortunately this did not stop him from issuing a vaguely threatening statement to Dutch media later that same day. “Romanians and Bulgarians are not welcome in the Netherlands after January 1,” he said.

Then, just 11 days after the Romanian embassy protest, the Freedom Party led a populist anti-austerity/anti-EU rally in the Hague. Some of the estimated 1,000 participants held the Prinsen flag, while others protesters were seeing giving Nazi salutes. When asked to distance himself from the fascistic “incidents” and individuals, Wilders was unapologetic, saying he was “proud” of the rally, and “proud of everyone who attended it”.

Two weeks ago, the Economist reported on the results of the latest public poll. They revealed that the Freedom Party is now the number one political party in the Netherlands, and if elections were held today, Wilders would win.

Shortly after the new survey results were released, four of the party’s MPs arrived at the Dutch parliament wearing matching neo-Nazi insignias pinned to their collars. But the powerful party is approaching “untouchable” in the Netherlands.

The Freedom Party is ascending, but Wilders is thinking far beyond Dutch politics. He’s thinking about the whole of Western Europe.

A little over a month ago, he told an interviewer, “A political revolution is under way from England to Germany, from France to Italy and the Netherlands.” And Wilders believes that next year, this mass movement on the right can make “an enormous advance.”

Since the major European powers appear to be marching in lockstep towards a fascist future, it may be time for EU citizens to consider “self-deporting” to Bulgaria or Romania.

 

Lily Lynch

Lily is co-founder and editor-in-chief of Balkanist Magazine. She lives in Belgrade, Serbia. https://www.instagram.com/lynch.lily/

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