23/04/2012The far right in Europe
The strong showing made by National Front candidate Marine Le Pen in the first round of France’s presidential election has highlighted the strength of far right groups in Europe.
A round-up of the main groups contesting national elections in Europe:
FRANCE: The Front National was set up in 1972 by Jean-Marie Le Pen, the father of Marine Le Pen. In 2002 Le Pen senior scored a major upset by coming in second in a presidential election with 16.9% of the vote.
Although his daughter, running on a strongly anti-immigrant platform, did not achieve a similar feat on Sunday, she won a larger number of votes than her father, taking 17.9% to come in third.
France’s first-past-the-post electoral system has prevented the National Front from winning seats in the French national assembly in recent years, but it has a strong presence in several towns and regions and holds three seats in the European Parliament.
AUSTRIA: Two extreme-right groups won 55 seats of the 183 seats in Austria’s parliament, and almost a third of the overall vote, at the last elections in 2008.
The Freedom Party (FPOe) took 17.5% of votes and 34 seats, while the League for Austria’s Future (BZOe), a splinter group created by the late politician Joerg Haider, took 10.7% and won 21 seats.
SWITZERLAND: Although the populist Swiss People’s Party (SVP) lost ground in parliamentary elections last December, it remained the country’s largest single political grouping, with 54 of the 200 seats in the national parliament and 26.6% of the vote. During the poll, the SVP made waves with posters showing immigrants as black sheep being kicked out of the country by white sheep.
FINLAND: The True Finns Party made huge gains in a parliamentary election in April 2011, winning 19% of the vote and 39 of the 200 seats.
HUNGARY – The Alliance for Young People-Movement for a better Hungary (Jobbik) surged to third place in elections in April 2010, winning 16.7 percent of the vote and 46 of the 386 seats in parliament. Jobbik is strongly anti European Union.
NETHERLANDS: The Freedom Party (PVV) of Geert Wilders won 24 of the Dutch lower house of parliament’s 150 seats in the parliamentary vote of June 2010 becoming the country’s third-biggest grouping and taking 15.4% of the vote. Wilders is known for his strong anti-Islamic views.
BELGIUM: The separatist New Flemish Alliance (NVA) won 27 of the 150 national parliament seats in June 2010, taking 28% of votes in its stronghold of Flanders, and 12.6% nationally.
NORWAY: The anti-immigration Progress Party lost ground in local elections last September, two months after the attacks by the extremist Anders Behring Breivik, a former member of the party who murdered 77 people in and around Oslo. The party took 11.4% of votes in the local poll, against 23% in the last national elections. It nevertheless holds 41 of the 169 seats in parliament.
SWEDEN: The anti-immigrant Sweden Democrats made their first entry to parliament in September 2010, winning 20 of the 348 seats and 5.7% of the vote.