The neo-Nazi and extreme right parties still exist. Some, have even acquired sufficient strength to hold the balance in deciding if a Law is approved in parliament or not. The rhetoric is still the same: supremacy for the citizens and hatred for the foreigner.
With the passage of time, the generations that were alive during the period of Hitler and Mussolini are disappearing. Today there are not many people who can still tell the story of what they saw with their own eyes.
The new generations relive these tragic events through books and documentaries, which allow them to form an idea of the barbary which happened just over 50 years ago.
However, despite the differences, maybe it is worth looking back to see the kind of political measures that were taken then.
Well into the XXIst century there are political parties with quite similar ideas to those of that period, and occasionally with the power over political decisions.
But, what used to be the common features of these parties, despite their differences ?
In general they defend their own citizens above all, rejecting the immigrant, whom they simply consider to be unwelcome. Immigrants are blamed for bringing problems to the country, causing disturbances, stealing jobs from the national population, and bringing public insecurity, robberies and violence.
They believe in the superiority of the white race, and therefore promote hatred towards the blacks. However, Muslims, homosexuals, and even disabled people are not looked on with approval.
They are in favour of an extremely well-equipped army, reserving for this a large share of the national budget.
In summary, they are parties with an ultra-nationalist, xenophobic and authoritarian rhetoric, and a populist tendency with an exaggerated defence of national identity. But they do not hold any brief for maintaining liberal and democratic institutions.
The situation today
The current crisis has helped these extreme right-wing radical parties (in many cases approved and voted by the electorate) to begin to strengthen themselves, or in other cases to emerge for the first time. In general they lack any serious and humanistic political programme, and are not in agreement with traditional parties.
It is enough to look at what happened in the elections held a month ago in Greece, where the neo-Nazi party The Golden Dawn, whose symbol resembles the Nazi swastika, won 21 seats.
A lot of the proposals of this party are simply scandalous. Among the measures they want to take are: the expulsion of all immigrants living in Greece, closing the country’s borders against immigration, protecting the frontiers with anti-personnel mines and electric fences to stop illegal immigration, and banning mixed marriages between Greeks and immigrants.
In France, which has also recently held elections, the Frente Nacional has arrived in 3rd place, led by the ultra-rightist Marine Le Pen, who presented a programme and a rhetoric which were xenophobic, nationalist and anti-European.
In neighbouring Italy, the extreme right party La Liga Norte, which is against illegal immigration, was the group which kept in power the goverment led by Silvio Berlusconi. It resigned en masse last November to allow the technocratic executive led by the current prime minister, Mario Monti, to take over.
This party was the Freedom Party (PPV) , led by Geert Wilders, who became known to the world for his controversial short film, Fitna, (a Koranic term which can be translated as ‘chaos’ or ‘confrontation’), in which there are sequences of Sept 11 2001 and May 11th 2004 (the Madrid station bombings). The video , which shows a graph of the increasing muslim population in Holland and in Europe, ends with the message: “Let’s stop Islamization. Defend our freedoms”.
The opinions of Wilders are seen by many people as extremist and xenophobic. He went so far as to describe Islam as a ‘totalitarian regime’ and compare the Koran with Hitler’s Mein Kampf (My struggle).
A recent initiative by Wilders has been to create a post-box for complaints against immigrants from Eastern Europe with questions like: “Are you bothered by the disturbances, lack of integration and good manners of workers from Bulgaria, Romania and Poland who arrived in Holland ? Have you lost your job because of one of them ? Describe what happened”.
On the other hand, in the UK there is the British National Party, an extreme right party formed as a splinter group from the National Front in 1982. Membership is restricted only to English people and calls for assistance for immigrants and their descendents to return to their home countries.
And particularly delicate in this context is the case of Germany, the country that caused the Jewish holocaust, where denying that it took place is a crime punishable by 5 years in prison. Despite this it also has ultra-right parties like the National Democratic Party (NPD), the main glue holding together neo-Nazi groups, with some 10,000 members in the country.
It is true that they don’t have any seats in the Bundestag (Parliament), but they are represented in some regional parliaments and local councils.
Besides the NPD, the second major formation in Germany is the Union of the German People (DVU), which has 200 local groups and a total of 25,000 militants registered as potentially violent.
If 2012 carries on the same way it is clear that the neo-Nazi and ultra right wing parties will maintain their support. It comes to mind to ask what has gone so wrong that people can support programmes advocating things like protecting frontiers with anti-personnel mines.
(Translated by Graham Douglas – Em,ail: email@example.com)