Rightward Political Shift in Europe and EU Parliamentary Elections



Identity & Belonging Race & Ethnicity

Elections to the European Parliament took place in 2014. The rising prevalence, observable over the last several years, of racist, right-wing populist and extremist attitudes in many countries of the the EU was reflected in the widespread electoral success of parties of the right.

In late May 2014, elections to the European Parliament were held in all member states of the EU. In many of these countries, right-wing populist and extremest parties attracted a large number of votes. The parties in question frequently ran on Euro-critical platforms, with many calling for the abolition of the Euro common currency and for national secession from the EU, and often citing the EU financial and economic crisis of the preceding six years as a rationalization for these proposals. In places, a frankly racist set of attitudes was joined to these demands, directed, for example, against asylum seekers and migrants. Exemplary of these developments was the success in France of the Front National, with 25%, in Great Britain of UKIP (UK Independence Party) with 27%, in Denmark of the Dansk Folkeparti with 15.3%, in Austria of the FPÖ (FreiheitlicheParteiÖsterreichs) with 19.7%, in Hungary of Jobbik with 14.68%, in Sweden of the Sverigedemokraterna with 9.7%, and in Greece of CrysiAvgi with 9.3% of the vote. Overall, right-wing populist and extremist parties achieved 19% of the popular vote across all EU member states.

In Germany, out of a total 25 parties taking part in the 2014 election, three represented an explicitly racist agenda: the Republikaner, PRO NRW, and the NPD (NationaldemokratischeParteiDeutschlands). While these parties achieved a negligible share of the vote (0.2-1%), an until then largely unknown party, the AfD (Alternative für Deutschland), burst onto the scene with a strong result of 7.1%.

Like the other right-wing parties on the 2014 ballot in Germany, the AfD had advertised itself with Euro-critical arguments from its founding in 2013, calling for secession from the EU and the abolition of the Euro. However, through slogans such as “yes to immigration, but not into our social system”, or “we are not the world’s welfare office”, itself nearly identical to a slogan employed by NPD, the AfD also sought to inflame and capitalize on racist prejudices