“In fact, far-right parties have been slowly but steadily increasing their electoral support and political power in Europe since the early 1980s. Over that time, they have moved from the political margins into the political mainstream. As a consequence, far-right parties currently constitute the biggest threat to liberal democracy in Europe.
Five European countries in particular (but not exclusively) deserve attention on this front. Going from the most to the least acute level of threat, the world should keep an eye on Hungary, Poland, Italy, Sweden, and France. In all these countries, far-right parties are electorally successful and politically powerful, though their ability to weaken liberal democracy varies.”
“It was only in the third wave, 1980-2000, that far-right parties started to break into national parliaments in various European countries, such as the Austrian Freedom Party (FPÖ) and the misleadingly named Center Party (CP) in the Netherlands. These populist radical right parties shared a core ideology of nativism, authoritarianism, and populism. Although not strictly single-issue parties, they mostly profited from a growing political dissatisfaction that centered in particular on immigration.
That paved the way for the fourth wave at the beginning of the century, in which far-right parties moved from the political margins into the political mainstream and increased their electoral support, from an average of just 1 percent of the vote in EU member states in the 1980s to close to 10 percent in the 2010s.”
“Most of the relevant parties in this fourth wave are part of the same populist radical right subgroup, focusing primarily on issues like crime, corruption, and immigration. Unlike the extreme right, which consists of a broad variety of small, neo-fascist parties — parties that, in terms of ideology and symbols, hark back to the fascist movements of the early 20th century— the radical right supports democracy per se. That is, they support popular sovereignty and majority rule, while opposing key institutions and values of liberal democracy, such as an independent judiciary and media, minority rights, pluralism, and the separation of powers.”
“the main impact is indirect, through the co-optation of the far-right agenda or the collaboration with far-right parties — by, mostly but not exclusively, mainstream right-wing parties — as is happening in France and Sweden, for example. What makes this process particularly problematic is that it is often not perceived as far-right or threatening; within the political establishment, many might deny or minimize cries of authoritarianism or nativism among insiders.”