In March 2016 when the results of the Slovakia’s national election came, a surprise (shock, rather) was waiting for a lot of people. For the first time in the nation’s history, an openly neo-Nazi party won seats in the nation’s parliament. The party, whose name can be roughly translated to English as People’s Party-Our Slovakia, is led by Marian Kotleba, a person who is known for his far-right wing views.
The skin-headed man, who considers NATO as a criminal organization, believes western democracy as a propagator of “dangerous sects and sexual deviations”, has called for the creation of a militia aimed at protecting the ethnic Slovaks. In other words, Marian Kotleba’s party is everything a liberal western democracy is afraid of.
However to political observers worldwide Kotleba’s victory came as no surprise, but rather as a part of alarger story unfolding throughout Europe. Since the 2008 financial crisis, far-right wing parties have been gaining support across Europe. Using the people’s discontent with the social and economic systemin the post-2008 period, a large number of these parties have been successful in mobilizing people under their banners. Kotleba’s party in Slovakia, Golden Dawn in Greece, Jobbik in Hungary, Front National in France – are all a part of this growing fabric.
All these parties share a very similar story. The ideologies these parties stand for have always enjoyed a loyal support base – a very minute fragment of the population. However, the recent increase in their popularity can be traced to two reasons. One, the 2008 financial crisis. When the economic catastrophe happened in 2008, its shockwaves were felt throughout the planet. Europe was no exception. The numerous jobs that were lost, coupled with the already prevalent unemployment in the society and the difficulty to avail and access several social opportunities for certain sections made many people look for alternative politics. A significant chunk of this population switched to far-right wing parties.
The second driving factor began happening with the onset of Arab Spring around 2011. The bloody crisis in the Middle East displaced thousands of people, many of whom entered Europe as refugees. This acted as the perfect catalyst for neo-Nazis in Europe to increase their political support base by furthering their much-used rallying cry against immigrants: “They’re gonna take away your jobs.” And indeed when refugees and immigration became the focal point of European politics in the years following 2011, the support for these far-right establishments increased exponentially.
This resurrection of the far-right in Europe has concerned many. And that is not at all surprising, given that we’re talking about a continent that still bears the scars of holocaust. As always, this neo-Nazi establishment has arrived with all those stuff that makes the liberal democrat run for cover. In France, the founder of Front National has suggested releasing Ebola virus on migrants. In Greece, Golden Dawn ran in 2012 elections under the slogan “So we can rid this land of filth”. And so it goes.
Many of these parties refuse to use the term ‘neo-Nazi’, although they’re okay with ‘far-right’. Their rallying cries often include demands that call for a total or near-fascist society ethnically homogeneous society. Although scorned and attacked by both left and centrist parties throughout Europe, if the present trend continues, these neo-Nazi parties would soon reach that position form where they would have a significant say in deciding the socio-economic trajectory of this planet.
Whether that is possible, and if it is, what its implications would be, might be the topic for a future article. But the swastika is back.
Written By: Richik Bandhyopadhyay