The Washington Post's June 9, 2024 European Parliament tilts right; Macron calls snap elections in France uses the terms "far right" and "conservative" three times and "nationalist(s)" twice when discussing both the European Parliament and individual countries, such as "France, Germany and Italy, and some Scandinavian countries" in a quote.

I'm so confused. So I'd like to understand better, in simple language, what "far right" actually means in this particular context. I assume it is not extreme fiscal conservatism that the WaPo article is highlighting with the term, but in simple terms, what is it in this particular case?

It should not be hard to at least draw from answers from the much more general question from 2015 What does "far-right extremist" mean? But almost ten years later, and focusing specifically on the EU, what defines this "far right" tilt?

Related news item: Politico.EU's concurrent Macron bets the house in election to break far-right momentum in France

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    Do you want to know what "Far Right" means in relation to US politics (as exemplified by the Washington Post) or in relation to European politics (possibly including the UK)?
    – MikeB
    Commented Jun 12 at 7:23
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    @MikeB that's an interesting question; my post asks specifically about EU politics of course, but how the Post writes about it may be different than how a EU-centric newspaper of record might write about the same situation. That difference could be highlighted in a new answer post.
    – uhoh
    Commented Jun 12 at 7:37
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    Haha, "far right" is surely a moving target! Commented Jun 12 at 7:55
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    @Peter-ReinstateMonica Sure, but the way out is not saying that it doesn't exist but simply to define what you mean by it more often. The question could have done it. One common, current definition for right/far-right is the ECR, ID groups of the EU parliament plus AFD + Fidesz. Not sure if the question had that in mind. Commented Jun 12 at 15:43

7 Answers 7


The EU does not have a unified political culture. There were 27 distinct elections for 27 distinct contingents of EU legislators, who will then try to fit into Europe-wide factions. From time to time, there are attempts at Europe-wide politics, e.g. by pushing the Spitzenkandidat concept, but as the European treaties are written, the national governments can disrupt any effort to form a pan-European commission (i.e. government).

In , the main party on the far right (the Alternative für Deutschland) developed from protests to the bailouts during the eurozone crisis. Germany went through inflation after both World Wars and the eastern German states went through financial upheaval at the end of Communism, so fiscal stability is a hot button issue. When that was resolved, the AfD centered on immigration, when the Covid pandemic came they added anti-quarantine and anti-vaccination views on top of that, and with the 2022 Russian attack on Ukraine they demanded to align with Russia for cheap gas. Several times over the years, they ousted their own leadership for being 'too moderate.'

The German domestic intelligence service, the Verfassungsschutz, can monitor attempts to undermine the liberal democratic order, a technical term where 'liberal' refers to the freedoms set out in the constitution. It provides annual reports on suspected and demonstrably counter-constitutional movements. They noted how each of these new resentments was mixed with increasingly visible neo-Nazi beliefs.

  • The AfD wants a return to traditional social roles, where a family consists of a working father, a stay-at-home mother and lots of children to resolve the demographic crisis. Notably, there is no room for LGBT etc. identities.
  • Their cultural views are compatible with those of Russia, and they are accused of taking Russian money. Such relations and money flows are not new to the European far right.
  • The AfD wants an ethnically homogeneous population, by expelling not just refugees but also dual citizens.
  • They want to roll back European integration and return to a mere free trade area.

Across the EU, the far right is not a uniform, homogeneous group.

The Rassemblement National, the French far right party, distanced itself from the AfD, the German far right party, over remarks about members of the SS by an AfD candidate. Source: article of the BBC

Furthermore, the stance of the european far right parties with regards to Russia are also quite different country by country.

This is a more general overview of the euro-sceptic and far-right parties with regards to geopolitics.

So, what does far right actually mean then?
It means a lot and nothing at the same time. It, unfortunately, depends on who you ask and who's asking, and also about which aspect you're asking about.


Anti-Immigrant, Pro-Pollution, Nationalist

A simple description of the European far-right might be:

  1. Anti Immigrant - they want to drastically cut immigration and possibly expel recent arrivals
  2. Pro-Pollution - Against spending to de-carbonize, against restrictions on industrial pollution, and against restrictions on agricultural pollution
  3. Nationalist - Euro-skeptic (linked to issue 1)

Many far right groups might have other outside-of-mainstream views, like sympathy for Russia, or nostalgia for Nazis, but in so much as there is a common core across the continent, I would argue it is the above.

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    Pro-pollution...LMAO...there is not a single person on this planet that is "pro-pollution". This isn't a Captain Planet episode. Commented Jun 10 at 21:18
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    "Anti-environmentalist", perhaps?
    – dan04
    Commented Jun 10 at 22:49
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    I'm not aware of any of these people being overtly "pro-pollution". The extreme end are people who claim climate change or man-made climate change is not occurring at all. Less extreme are people who claim there's no point in their small country doing anything about it given China etc; people who think we'll just have to put up with it; people who claim government policies on climate burden ordinary people and farmers too much. And so on.
    – Lag
    Commented Jun 11 at 8:21
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    I think a better description would be "climate-skeptic" - it's not that these parties want pollution, per se, they just don't think it contributes to climate change (or that climate change is happening at all) and believe green energy is therefore a waste of time and money.
    – F1Krazy
    Commented Jun 11 at 12:24
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    @F1Krazy - "climate-skeptic" makes the position sound far too reasonable, in my opinion. Un-subsidized renewables are cheaper than fossil fuels now. The only reason to support fossil fuels is because you personally profit off them, or because you bought into the propaganda of those who profit off them. I'm honestly pretty comfortable calling the position pro-pollution (though I suppose "pro-personally-profiting-while-inflicting-pollution-on-others" might work too, it's a little long for my taste.)
    – codeMonkey
    Commented Jun 11 at 14:03

There are traditional conservative parties, in the EU these are part of the EPP. 'Far right' or 'nationalist' generally refers to any political parties or groups of parties that are to the right of this group.

The biggest group is the ID containing the French National Rally and the Italian League. It also used to contain the German AfD but they were kicked out of ID recently. All of these parties can be described as right-wing populist, nationalist, far right or right extremist (note that these terms are often meant derogatory). A general euroskepticism is common among these parties as well.

  • If everything right of EPP is far right, then from provisional results the biggest group is ECR, not ID. Commented Jun 10 at 13:15
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    @AmiralPatate Thanks, the EU is big and complicated :-) It seems the biggest party in the ECR is the Polish PiS which are right of the EPP. I would say, whether they are far right or nationalist depends on who you ask.
    – quarague
    Commented Jun 10 at 13:23
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    @quarague: The EU did decide that PiS attacked the independent judiciary. That was more than just an opinion, funds were withheld. Attacking the independent judiciary is a clear sign of extreme parties (on either side), so it seems appropriate to consider the PiS extreme right, and by extension the ECR for not kicking them out.
    – MSalters
    Commented Jun 11 at 7:17

The term "Far Right" is a thought-terminating cliché used by the Left that is used to paint anyone who disagrees with the Left as just "bad people". You will never hear a Leftist define what that term actually means, as it is nebulous and vague by design. If it had a precise definition, it would lose its political versatility.

Historically, the term was used to describe actual Nazis. However, theoretically, Nazis were also Leftists--they just substituted the "Proletariat" with the "German Volk".

Communists: "We are more moral and deserving of your things because of our social class".

Nazis: "We are more moral and deserving of your things because of our race".

Same ideology, just a disagreement on who the "proletariat" is.

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    What kind of answer is this? Far right is very clearly defined at the radical right wing of any political group. It is defined as radically conservative, ultra-nationalist and authoritarian. That's a pretty clear definition to me. Also for someone responding in politics.se you don't seem to understand what communism or nazism are at all.
    – kutuzof
    Commented Jun 11 at 11:01
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    @Jacques: there are plenty of communist parties in Europe, they even have seats there: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/… Commented Jun 11 at 12:59
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    The claim that "the Nazis were actually left wing!" is one of those "black is white" deliberate misinterpretations spread by trolls (used by prominent folks like Glenn Beck, Ann Coulter and co). Given this post doesn't actually address the question as asked this reads like a push answer- it could be improved by adding references to the claims it makes and defining the terms it itself uses in relation to the Q
    – bertieb
    Commented Jun 11 at 14:27
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    "You will never hear a Leftist define what that term actually means, as it is nebulous and vague by design. If it had a precise definition, it would lose its political versatility." there are many definitions (that mostly match) as answers to this question.
    – ave
    Commented Jun 11 at 18:13
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    @user3163495 Searching Google Scholar for publications that contain both the terms "far right" and "EU" yields 82 thousand results. If as you claim without references the term is merely a cliché used by the left, surely you can come up with evidence to support that. The way the answer is currently written we'd just have to take your word for it and it's rather unconvincing.
    – JJJ
    Commented Jun 11 at 21:10

Parties don't come out of nowhere, they have a history:

Marine le Pen leads The National Rally, this came out of her father's founding of The National Front. This party was known for its explicit anti-Semitism. They have successfully turned new immigrants into the 'new Jews'.

Georgia Meloni, Prime Minister of Italy, joined the Youth Front, the youth wing of the Italian Social Movement when she was young. This party was set up by former fascists.

Nigel Farage leads the Reform UK party. Just recently one of their candidates claimed the country would be "far better" if it had "taken Hitler up on his offer of neutrality" instead of fighting the Nazis in World War II. He has since apologised.

Last November, senior members of the Alternative for Deutschland were in a Potsdam hotel discussing a remigration plan which would affect not only recent immigrants without German citizenship but also crucially those with. This has cause of much street protest against the AfD.

It's telltale signals like this that eagle-eyed commentators use to characterise these parties as far-right. They have tacked to the centre so as to get elected but these commentators believe their far-right DNA lie just below the surface and will come out once they have secured power.

  • While not "out of nowhere", nor in Europe, Taiwan's TPP did go from founding to "26.46% of the popular vote in the presidential election" in five years. But that's certainly not typical.
    – uhoh
    Commented Jun 13 at 10:19

The specifics depend on the particular country, but usually ultranationalism, including anti-EU positions and right wing populism; in essence scapegoatism against refugees, minorities and this entire culture war bullshit.

So "socially conservative" if you want to be neutral, though by now you could probably group the Austrian, German and Italian groupings as post-fascist.

Like that's the Italian Fratelli d'Italia: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2024/jan/08/meloni-urged-to-ban-neofascist-groups-after-crowds-filmed-saluting-in-rome and they are just the ECR. The German AfD was recently even too explicit for the French Neonazi of the Front/Rassemblement National and the Austrian FPÖ as well https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liste_rechtsextremer_und_neonazistischer_Vorf%C3%A4lle_in_der_FP%C3%96

For quite some time even dictators like Victor Orbán were part of the EPP, and it's not just me calling him a dictator. His fellow party member Jean-Claude Juncker did, but apparently he was kicked out or left that faction.

So yeah, any from the far right of the democratic spectrum, to dictators, neofascists, nazis and their sympathizers, those who just want to make politics on the back of minorities and those who like to be elected to the EU to withdraw from the EU.

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    Do policies like stricter immigration criteria and being against dual citizenships make people supporting them neonazis now?
    – rus9384
    Commented Jun 12 at 13:33
  • @rus9384 Not necessarily in that direction. But xenophobia and scapegoatism against foreigners and categorizing them as illegal aliens and trying or demanding deportation is a staple of far right populism and neonazis. So yes there is an overlap and if groups being in favor of the former don't distance themselves from that, but instead back on their support, this can mean that they end up supporting neonazis.
    – haxor789
    Commented Jun 12 at 13:42
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    As far as I understand, Marine Le Pen was going less far right compared to her father. I do not see "deporting all immigrants with citizenships" among the party points. Leaving the EU also is not a part of the political program anymore, though that might be a result of her believing now that immigration opponents can actually become the plurality in the EU.
    – rus9384
    Commented Jun 12 at 18:32
  • @rus9384 Her father was a legally convicted criminal for racism and inciting racist hatred as well as holocaust denial, so the bar is low and the predecessor party Front National apparently invented the idea of "remigration" which is now used by AfD and FPÖ and includes deporting citizens. Marine Le Pen has expelled her father aims for a more moderate image of the party, but there's still a lot of that left and many are skeptic as to whether that is a change of heart or a PR move. Especially since they are in the far right faction of en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Identity_and_Democracy
    – haxor789
    Commented Jun 13 at 9:02
  • The wikipedia page states the member parties range from right-wing to far right. I.e. not all of them are far right. This does not really answer which of the two is RA. And even if it is a PR move, does not really mean if RA gets a plurality in the national parliament, they now can ignore the PR reasons.
    – rus9384
    Commented Jun 13 at 12:28

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