Sayyid Nader Noorbakhsh, speaking to the Strategic Council on Foreign Relations, referring to the causes of the growth of extreme right-wing parties in Europe, said that these parties can be divided into two factions and noted that one faction is the radical and populist parties, which are usually successful when talking about success. For example, the National Assembly party in France, the “AFD” in Germany, and the “Freedom” party in Austria. The other faction is the parties or groups with mostly neo-fascist and racist tendencies; this faction has not grown and usually fails to enter the parliament in their countries.
He stated that the radical populist parties of the first category have abandoned the biological racism that traditionally exists in the extreme right, and by replacing it with cultural concerns, they argue about anti-immigrants. He added that radical populist parties also consider and pursue Islamophobia. This is while the second category, the neo-fascist and traditional extreme-right faction, is more anti-Semitic than Islamophobic, and its activities usually do not fit within the framework of the democratic and liberal democracy system. They typically want to overthrow the system in their respective countries.
This analyst of European issues considered the sharp atmosphere related to immigration and its consequences as one of the main reasons for the growth of extremist parties in Europe. He added that, especially since 2015, when the refugee crisis was created in Europe, this issue peaked. Many European citizens are worried about the arrival of illegal immigrants and asylum seekers from the Middle East and North Africa. This concern has two economic and cultural dimensions; incidentally, the cultural dimension is more vital. They are worried that immigrants will destroy their countries’ so-called national identity, language, and culture.
Noorbakhsh stated that there are a number of supporters and voters of extreme-right parties who do not necessarily have ideological concerns and motives and vote for them only because of their dissatisfaction with established and well-known parties. He added that they believe that in their countries, the middle right and middle left parties, who have been in power periodically for years, have not been able to fulfill their wishes. For example, in France, a part of those who vote for Mrs. Le Pen, only voted for her to express their protest and dissatisfaction with Macron and parties with a history and fame.
At the same time, he stated that countries have different situations in terms of the geographical dimension and the number of asylum seekers and immigrants, and explained that some countries, such as Italy, Greece and Hungary, are on the way to the arrival of immigrants and have been greatly affected in recent years. But in all European countries, with the exception of the Republic of Ireland, we see the presence of extreme-right parties. In some of these countries, due to the type of electoral structure, they cannot grow easily; for example, in the British two-party system, smaller and marginal parties, do not have the possibility of growth and are not very influential, but in countries with multiple political parties, they grow.
Noorbakhsh considered the approach of other parties in boycotting the extreme right parties or cooperating with them as another influential issue and added that in Austria and Italy, the approach of coalition and cooperation with the extreme right is followed by some other parties, so in these countries, they are easier to gain strength. In some countries, such as Germany and France, there is a boycott approach and other parties refuse to cooperate with them at all local, national and even transnational levels.
Referring to the seizure of power by the extreme right in Italy and the adoption of policies similar to the extreme right in Poland and Hungary, this expert on European issues added that in France and Germany, the extreme right is not present in the government, but it has formed a powerful opposition. In Germany, according to polls, the AFD party is now the second largest party in the country; According to polls, the popularity of the ruling parties in Germany is lower than the popularity of the AFD party, and this party has the second place after the center-right party, namely the Christian Democratic Party.
He pointed out the higher level of popularity of Marine Le Pen compared to Emmanuel Macron. He stated that if Le Pen can maintain this level of popularity, she can even achieve an executive position. He said that elections will be held shortly in Slovakia and Poland, which are very important. Next year, we will see the European Parliament elections if they gain more power, especially in countries like Austria, Germany, and France; given the close relationship that the extreme right has with Russia, the supporters of Ukraine in Europe will be weakened.
While examining the social base of the extreme right, Noorbakhsh stated that their supporters are stronger in villages, small towns and vulnerable classes such as the working class and the unemployed and people with less education. He continued that in remote areas, people feel deprived and they believe that politicians do not hear their voices. In these areas, the extreme right acts very strongly. In Germany, the people of small towns in the east of this country have this characteristic, and in those areas, the AFD party It is very powerful.
This expert on European issues, while explaining other consequences of the extreme-right gaining power in Europe, listed one of the possible effects of the extreme-right gaining power in Europe, as the prominence of the concept of borders and the weakening of free movement and the decline of the status of transnational institutions, and the gaining of power of these parties means the weakening of the European Union.
Noorbakhsh, at the same time, by reminding that the extreme right parties have shown that in parallel with approaching and achieving the executive position, they distance themselves from their ideal slogans that they put forward in the position of the opposition and take a pragmatic and realistic approach when they come to power. He said that their view in foreign policy is towards the East and while criticizing NATO, they follow friendly approaches towards Russia.
He stated that with the rise of the extreme right in Europe, strictures on the minority of immigrants and asylum seekers may becoming more and discriminations may increase, adding that these parties should not be exaggerated. The left-wing media sometimes claim that the rise of extreme-right parties means the rise of new Hitlers and the rise of fascism and Nazism in Europe, which seems to be an exaggerated view.