May 26, 2014 - Brussels - The AJC Transatlantic Institute expressed its great concern over the success of extremist parties in a number of member states in the European Parliament elections.
While the center-right European People's Party projected to finish first with 212 seats, followed by the center-left Socialists & Democrats with 186 seats, several parties that promote hatred had strong support. Jobbik became the second biggest Hungarian party in the European Parliament with 14.3% (4 seats). Despite being under criminal investigations and with several party leaders in prison, Golden Dawn entered the European Parliament for the first time, coming in third place in Greece with about 9% of the vote (projected 3 seats). In France, the far-right National Front became the strongest party with 25% (projected 25 seats) and the far-right FPÖ in Austria came in a notable third with 20.5% (4 seats).
“The extent to which these parties will be able to unite to influence European policy remains to be seen,” said Daniel Schwammenthal, Director of the AJC Transatlantic Institute. “Nevertheless, their mere presence in the legislature for the next five years will, at a minimum, provide a soapbox from which to propagate their vile hatred.”
Golden Dawn and Jobbik, are openly racist, blaming the economic ills of their countries on minorities like Jews, Roma or immigrants. Their anti-Semitism also often spills into vicious attacks against the state of Israel.
“These radical parties have been able to grow in their respective home countries for quite some time and are now cementing their presence also at the European level," said Schwammenthal. "They must be confronted head-on or the danger will only continue to grow.”
Jobbik’s European success follows an even stronger showing in April’s national election, where it received 20% of the vote (up from 16% in the previous poll) and 23 of the 199 seats in the Hungarian parliament, making it the third largest party. Other parties, like France’s National Front and the FPÖ in Austria, are hoping to use the momentum from the European elections to increase their presence on the national political scene.
“MEPs from the shrinking pool of mainstream parties in the coming legislature will face the challenge of standing up firmly to any statements of hatred in the European Parliament,” said Schwammenthal. “Some European leaders, like Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, have already taken courageous stances, but only a strong, unified voice against hatred can truly stem this dangerous tide."