The ideology of the extreme right
With extreme right parties in government in Austria and Italy, and Jean-Marie Le Pen contesting the run-off in the 2002 presidential elections in France, few people will dispute their continuing relevance in the politics of Western Europe. Indeed, ever since the first small electoral successes of parties like the Centrumpartij in the Netherlands or the Front National in France in the early 1980s, the extreme right has been the most discussed group of parties both in and outside of the scholarly community. Thousands of newspaper articles and hundreds of pieces of scholarly work have been devoted to extreme right parties, predominantly describing their history, leaders or electoral successes, as well as proclaiming their danger. Remarkably little serious attention has been devoted to their ideology, however. This aspect of the extreme right has been considered to be known to everyone. The few scholars that did devote attention to the ideology of the contemporary extreme right parties have primarily been concerned with pointing out similarities with the fascist and National Socialist ideologies of the pre-war period. If the similarities were not found, this was often taken as ‘proof ’ that the extreme right hides its (true) ideologies, rather than as a motivation to look in a different direction.