This paper has been prepared by the Institute for Strategic Dialogue as a background briefing for the European Policy Planners’ Network on Countering Polarisation and Radicalisation (PPN). It aims to provide an overview of recent developments in far-right extremism across Europe, highlight case studies of projects seeking to combat this threat, and offer practical lessons learned for policy makers and frontline workers.
The tragic attacks in Norway on 22 July 2011
drew Europe’s gaze to the potential dangers of
the radical right’s growing presence across the
continent, and the increasing legitimisation of
anti-immigration and anti-Islam discourses
within mainstream European politics.
Considered alongside other recent violence in
Germany and Italy, the attacks challenged the
idea that extremism from the right is only a
minor security threat. The pan-European
successes of radical right parties, pervasive harsh
language and violence towards immigrants and
growing transnational networks of right-wing
extremists indicate the increasing need for fresh
analysis and innovative responses on these
issues. There remains, however, a blurred
relationship between violence from the extreme
right and broader trends of Islamophobia and
radical right politics.
In the public discourse dominating the Netherlands after 1945, anti-Semitism and racism – two of the basic elements of (“classical”) right-wing extremism – have tended to be seen as uncharacteristic of Dutch society.1According to many experts, this is attributed to Dutch experiences in the Second World War, as the Netherlands saw the largest percentage of national Jewish populations in Europe killed, after Poland. A guilt complex related to Dutch behaviour during the War has led to what is often called “the basic consensus” on what is “bad” and “good” in Dutch society.