chapter  12
15 Pages

The European extreme right

In search of respectability?
WithEmmanuel Godin

This chapter identifies some of the non-party channels through which extreme-right values and ideas permeate the different strata of European societies. It demonstrates that if in Europe extreme-right parties have moved from the margins to the mainstream, they have not necessarily become more moderate for it. Throughout Europe, extreme-right parties have consolidated their electoral gains, and in some cases, entered government coalitions. One of the prevalent, but disputed, arguments about the nature of the European extreme right can be summarised as follows: the European extreme right has been able to free itself from its fascist past and the stigma attached to an ideology promoting biological racism and outright authoritarian, anti-democratic solutions. An analysis of manifestoes and public discourse point to the huge diversity of the European extreme right. The astonishing transformation of the Italian extreme right since the early 1990s under Gianfranco Fini’s leadership provides undoubtedly the most striking – even caricatural – example of this ‘modernisation’ process.