Transnational growth of the far right in Europe

Portugal Digital with Lusa News Agency

The growth of the far-right in Europe, including in Portugal, is the result of increased transnational collaboration, mainly through the Internet and outside parties or organizations, a European report concludes.

“While it is important to explore trends in traditional far-right organizations, such as political parties, the modern far right is currently undergoing a broader and more fundamental shift, namely the emergence of a transnational and post-organizational threat,” write the authors of State of Hate: Far Right Extremism in Europe.  The activists working on this study continue to be concerned with local or national issues, but seek to contextualize them on an international level and collaborate on certain issues that help propagate information. 

Historian Joe Mulhall, a researcher at Cambridge University and the anti-racism organization HOPE not hate and one of those responsible for the study, gave the collaboration of anti-Muslim movements as an example, and now, he says, there is a new anti-Semitic radicalization on social media. 

“The way people got involved in very extremist anti-Semitic politics, especially holocaust deniers, was traditionally done through the far right (…) but now you see new avenues [of conversion], pronounced in the last year, through other conspiracies,” he said at a press conference. 

Since the start of the covid-19 pandemic, the authors of the study have identified an increase in people involved in conspiracy theories such as the pro-Donald Trump QAnon movement, which links the Democratic Party to child trafficking, cannibalism or satanic rituals, as well as, anti-confinement and anti-vaccine groups. “We see people being radicalized into antisemitism through other conspiracy theories, many of which are not originally anti-Semitic,” he said. 

The 125-page study was prepared by anti-racist organizations HOPE not hate (UK), Expo (Sweden) and the Amadeu Antonio Foundation (Germany) to try to understand the areas of interest that radical and far-right groups seek to exploit.

It includes a survey in five European countries (Sweden, France, Germany, UK, Hungary, Poland and Italy) which found that 25% of Europeans have negative feelings towards Muslims, almost 33% have hostile views towards immigrants in general, and over 33% have negative views towards Roma. The survey, of more than 12,000 people, also found a deep distrust of the authorities that the authors believe could be an opportunity for populists and extremists to promote conspiracy theories.

 The report has chapters on all European countries, including Portugal, where the entry of the Chega! (Enough ) party into Parliament is a consequence, according to Mulhall, of the evolution of the far right on the continent. “The exceptions will disappear over time and in fact the risks of the European far right are ubiquitous and can happen in any country if the right circumstances exist,” he warned.