040_G19_Arena

Global

Arena Politics Europe 2014: the rise of the far right The 2014 European Union elections saw an unprecedented number of seats won by right-wing parties, ranging from right-of-centre Euro-sceptics to far-right fascist groups Jade Fell In the run-up to the European elections, the right-wing UK Independence Party (UKIP) was getting media attention for all the wrong reasons. Shooting to fame across social media sites, UKIP’s activities were well documented, especially when a candidate was seen to do something inappropriate – which happened only too often. Janice Atkinson, a UKIP candidate who describes herself as the party’s ‘number two’, was photographed swearing at anti-UKIP protesters while campaigning. Another candidate, Demetri Marchessini, was heard to claim that there’s no such thing as marital rape, adding: “If you make love on a Friday and make love on a Sunday, you can’t say Saturday is rape.” Unimpressed voters across the UK opted to get their own back against the party that had caused so much outrage by posting UKIP campaign leaflets back to the UKIP freepost address. Mail sent by freepost can be sent without a stamp, as the postage cost is picked up by the recipient. As word spread, more and more obscure items were sent through, including bricks and hefty Dostoyevsky novels. One thoughtful voter even sent the hardworking UKIP candidates eight litres of water to make sure they stayed hydrated while campaigning out in the hot sun. The freepost address was eventually closed down after prohibited items – including human blood and faeces, which Royal Mail deemed to pose a significant health risk to its workers – were sent through. Still, the message was clear: the voters were not happy. Elsewhere in Europe, other right-wing parties were also attracting media attention. In February an MP for the Greek far-right Golden Dawn party, Michalis Arvanitis, was photographed doing a Nazi salute to greet followers at a party event. Arvanitis claimed that the salute, which was returned by several guests gathered at the event, was one of “honour and victory”, insisting that the salute is an ancient Greek sign and not a Nazi one. In Hungary, newspapers focused on the fear rippling through the Jewish community from the rising threat of the neo-Nazi Jobbik party. The party itself claims not to be anti-Semitic and suggests that this is a lie spread by the media. However, the facts speak for themselves – in 2012 Marton Gyongyosi, a leader of Hungary’s Jobbik, called for the compilation of a list of all the Jews in Hungarian government because he deemed them to be a security threat. Last year another party member, Krisztina Morvai, wrote that she “would be glad if the so-called proud Hungarian Jews went back to playing with their tiny circumcised dicks instead of vilifying me”. Fast forward to the day of the European election results, and newspapers and social networks were once again painted purple and yellow with stories of UKIP as the party made history by becoming the first in more than 100 years to beat Labour and the Conservatives at a national election. UKIP won 27.5 per cent of the vote, electing 24 MEPs, with Labour in second place with 25.4 per cent, just ahead of the Conservatives. The Lib Dems lost all but one of their seats and came in sixth place behind the Green Party. Speaking of the election results, UKIP leader Nigel Farage could barely contain his excitement. “Despite the onslaught we have faced over the last few weeks, as if the whole world was against us, the British public have stood firm, they’ve backed UKIP and we have won a national election. I’m over the moon,” he said. “We will go on next year to the general election with a targeted strategy and I promise you this – you haven’t heard the last of us.” UKIP leader Nigel Farage has high hopes for next year’s general election four 40 l www.global -br ief ing.org th quar ter 2014 global


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