Europe’s Far-Right Parties Are Jockeying for Position Ahead of EU Elections

Europe’s Far-Right Parties Are Jockeying for Position Ahead of EU Elections
Marine Le Pen delivers a speech during the Europa Viva 2024 event, organized by Spain’s Vox party and held at the Vistalegre Palace in Madrid, May 19, 2024 (Sipa USA photo by Luis Soto via AP Images).

When the lead candidate for the European Parliament from Germany’s far right Alternative for Germany, or AfD, party recently declared that Nazi SS members were “not all criminals,” the party was promptly expelled by the EU Parliament’s Identity and Democracy group, led by France’s Marine Le Pen, with which the AfD had caucused in the body. The incident shows how Europe’s far-right parties, rising in influence but still divided into separate camps, are maneuvering ahead of upcoming EU Parliament elections to tend their public images and maximize their appeal and power.

The far right is making gains across Europe. It is winning premierships, polling strongly in multiple countries in advance of national presidential elections, and it looks set to make a strong showing when voters go to the polls June 6-9 to elect a new European Parliament.

But this newfound strength is also revealing divisions between competing groups‚—which act as something akin to political parties inside the EU Parliament—as the various parties of the far-right and center-right each test the limits of their tolerance for extremist ideology and for associating with former pariah parties.

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