The last 3-5 years has seen a growth in populist movements across Europe. In contrast to previous years, these movements are characterised by a) greater co-ordination across national borders; b) a focus on values (sometimes traditionally left wing values) and xenophobia rather than race; and c) emphasis on local activism and street demonstrations in addition to traditional electoral politics. This is of concern to policymakers at both a European, national and local level. This has become increasingly the case following the terrorist attacks in Oslo.
Gone are the race-based views and anti-semitism that previously characterised the far right. In its place is an emphasis on culture and values in the face of increasing immigration and the perceived cultural threat from the growth of Islam in Europe. This narrative of a new culture war is compelling and has led to shifting re-alignments, with many on the left holding the banner against immigration and Islam. The growing political power of these parties has exerted a gravitational pull on the centre ground, with countries like France banning the Burqa, and top politicians such as David Cameron and Angela Merkel declaring the end of multiculturalism.
Alongside the electoral success of populist political parties, there has been a rise of street-based populist groups, some of which have extremist elements. These groups, like the English Defence League (EDL), style themselves as pseudo-paramilitary organizations, and utilise the Internet and social network sites to organise demonstrations and recruit new members.
But the exact nature, seriousness and extent of these trends are underexplored. Any response must be carefully considered, involve many partners, and be informed by rigorous research. Demos is undertaking a research project to explore and document the contours of this right wing populism in Europe. This combines country-based primary research and a large scale survey of right wing populist activist in the following countries: the UK, France, Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland, Italy and Hungary.
This project will culminate in a preliminary report setting out the survey results and what it means for European policy makers. The report will be launched at a public conference in Brussels in early autumn.
The research will explore this growth in far-right activity:
To answer these questions, Demos is undertaking one of the most comprehensive research projects into the populism in Europe to date. This includes a large survey of activists and sympathisers, and in-country fieldwork with populist activists across several European countries, including the UK, France, Denmark, the Netherlands, Germany and Hungary.
The research will be part of a larger programme of research into the rise of xenophobia in Europe.
Our results will be published in autumn 2011.
To request an interview or comment from Jamie or Jonathan contact Beatrice Karol Burks.
This report analyses the responses of 10,000 online supporters of European populist political parties and movements, looking at the reasons why people are motivated to join.
The first in a series of reports looking at populist movements in Europe, this study examines the views and motivations of online supporters of the Jobbik movement.
This report is the third in our series of reports into the rise of populist parties and movements in Western Europe, this time looking at the Danish People's Party.
This report is the fourth in the Populism in Europe series, this time looking at the Netherlands, Geert Wilders and the Partij voor de Vrijheid.
This pamphlet is the sixth in our series of reports on European populism, this time looking at CasaPound, an Italian neo-fascist political and cultural movement.
This report analyses the views of over 4,000 Facebook fans of eight new opposition movements in Hungary.
Kyriakos Klosidis says the upcoming Greek election is more than likely to result in fragile marriages of convenience, despite predictions for the contrary.
The Guardian cites last year's report into the rise of web-based extremism across Europe.
The Daily Mail acknowledges last year's Demos report into extremism online.
CNN International covers The New Face of Digital Populism
Austrian newspaper Der Standard reports on The New Face of Digital Populism
Jamie Bartlett comments in the New York Times on the European far-right's reaction to the Norway attacks.
Jonathan Birdwell speaks to PBS Newhour about the growth and mobilisation of far-right groups in Europe.