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Far-right politics are politics further on the right of the left-right spectrum than the standard political right, particularly in terms of extreme nationalism,[1][2] nativist ideologies, and authoritarian tendencies.[3]

The term is often used to describe Nazism,[4] neo-Nazism, fascism, neo-fascism and other ideologies or organizations that feature ultranationalist, chauvinist, xenophobic, racist, anti-communist, or reactionary views.[5] These can lead to oppression, violence, forced assimilation, ethnic cleansing, and even genocide against groups of people based on their supposed inferiority, or their perceived threat to the native ethnic group,[6][7] nation, state[8], national religion, dominant culture or ultraconservative traditional social institutions.[9]



Far-right politics includes but is not limited to aspects of authoritarianism, anti-communism and nativism.[3] Claims that superior people should have greater rights than inferior people are often associated with the far-right.[10] The far-right has historically favored an elitist society based on its belief in the legitimacy of the rule of a supposed superior minority over the inferior masses.[11]

Some aspects of fascist ideology have been identified with right-wing political parties: in particular, the fascist idea that superior persons should dominate society while undesirable elements should be purged, which in the case of Nazism resulted in genocide.[12] Charles Grant, director of the Centre for European Reform in London, has distinguished between right-wing nationalist parties—which are often described as far-right such as the National Front in France—and fascism.[1] One issue is whether parties should be labelled radical or extreme,[13] a distinction that is made by the Federal Constitutional Court of Germany when determining whether or not a party should be banned. Another question is what the label "right" implies when it is applied to the extreme right, given the fact that many parties that were originally labeled right-wing extremist tended to advance neoliberal and free market agendas as late as the 1980s, but now advocate economic policies which are more traditionally associated with the left, such as anti-globalisation, nationalization and protectionism. One approach, drawing on the writings of Norberto Bobbio, argues that attitudes towards political equality are what distinguish the left from the right and they therefore allow these parties to be positioned on the right of the political spectrum.

There is also debate about how appropriate the labels fascist or neo-Fascist are. According to Cas Mudde, "the labels Neo-Nazi and to a lesser extent neo-Fascism are now used exclusively for parties and groups that explicitly state a desire to restore the Third Reich or quote historical National Socialism as their ideological influence".[13]

Right-wing populism, a political ideology that often combines laissez-faire capitalism, nationalism, ethnocentrism and anti-elitism, is sometimes described as far-right.[14][15] Right-wing populism often involves appeals to the "common man" and opposition to immigration.[16][1] Far-right politics sometimes involves anti-immigration and anti-integration stances towards groups that are deemed inferior and undesirable.[17] Concerning the socio-cultural dimension of nationality, culture and migration, one far-right position is the view that certain ethnic, racial or religious groups should stay separate and it is based on the belief that the interests of one's own group should be prioritised.[18]

Proponents of the horseshoe theory interpretation of the left-right spectrum identify the far-left and the far-right as having more in common with each other as extremists than each of them has with moderate centrists.[19]


The German political scientist Klaus von Beyme describes three historical phases in the development of far-right parties in Western Europe after World War II.[18][20]

From 1945 to the mid-1950s, far-right parties were marginalised and their ideologies were discredited due to the recent existence and defeat of Nazism. Thus in the years immediately following World War II, the main objective of far-right parties was survival and achieving any political impact at all was largely not expected.

From the mid-1950s to the 1970s, the so-called "populist protest phase" emerged with sporadic electoral success. During this period, far-right parties drew to them charismatic leaders whose profound mistrust of the political establishment led to an "us-versus-them" mind set: "us" being the nation's citizenry, "them" being the politicians and bureaucrats who were then in office.

Beginning in the 1980s, the electoral successes of far-right political candidates made it possible for far-right political parties to revitalize anti-immigration as a mainstream issue.

Nature of support

Jens Rydgren describes a number of theories as to why individuals support far-right political parties and the academic literature on this topic distinguishes between demand-side theories that have changed the "interests, emotions, attitudes and preferences of voters" and supply-side theories which focus on the programmes of parties, their organisation and the opportunity structures within individual political systems.[21] The most common demand-side theories are the social breakdown thesis, the relative deprivation thesis, the modernisation losers thesis and the ethnic competition thesis.[22]

The rise of far-right political parties has also been viewed as a rejection of post-materialist values on the part of some voters. This theory which is known as the reverse post-material thesis blames both left-wing and progressive parties for embracing a post-material agenda (including feminism and environmentalism) that alienates traditional working class voters.[citation needed] Another study argues that individuals who join far-right parties determine whether those parties develop into major political players or whether they remain marginalized.[23]

Early academic studies adopted psychoanalytical explanations for the far-right's support. For example, the 1933 publication The Mass Psychology of Fascism by Wilhelm Reich argued the theory that fascists came to power in Germany as a result of sexual repression. For some far-right political parties in Western Europe, the issue of immigration has become the dominant issue among them, so much so that some scholars refer to these parties as "anti-immigrant" parties.[24]

Right-wing terrorism

Right-wing terrorism is terrorism motivated by a variety of far right ideologies and beliefs, including anti-communism, neo-fascism, neo-Nazism, racism, xenophobia and opposition to immigration. This type of terrorism has been sporadic, with little or no international cooperation.[2] Modern right-wing terrorism first appeared in western Europe in the 1980s and it first appeared in Eastern Europe following the dissolution of the Soviet Union.[25]

Right-wing terrorists aim to overthrow governments and replace them with nationalist or fascist-oriented governments.[2] The core of this movement includes neo-fascist skinheads, far-right hooligans, youth sympathisers and intellectual guides who believe that the state must rid itself of foreign elements in order to protect rightful citizens.[25] However, they usually lack a rigid ideology.[25]

By country


As of May 2019, there is a number of political parties to the right of the centre-right Liberal Party of Australia and National Party of Australia, many of a populist nature. These include Pauline Hanson's One Nation, Katter's Australian Party, Fraser Anning's Conservative National Party (created 2019), United Australia Party, the Australian Conservatives, Yellow Vest Australia (formerly Australian Liberty Alliance), the Australia First Party, The Great Australian Party, Love Australia or Leave and the Rise Up Australia Party.

In addition to the registered political parties, there is a host of nationalist, far right or neo-Nazi groups and individuals. These include the True Blue Crew, Antipodean Resistance, the Australian Defence League, National Action (Australia), the Q Society, Reclaim Australia and the Lads Society (formerly United Patriots Front).

The parties and groups enjoy varying levels of support, with membership waxing and waning and fairly frequent changes of name and allegiances.[26]

In the lead-up to the May 2019 election, extremist groups, some with members linked to far-right terrorism, have tried to present themselves as legitimate and exert influence on right-wing and far-right parties. According to Geoff Dean, counter-terrorism expert and adjunct professor at Griffith University, “There are two real camps of rightwing extremists: those of the old style that do believe in violence and those of the new style, the new radical right, who want to gain political legitimacy to...change laws to support their agenda." Kristy Campion, of Charles Sturt University, expert on far-right extremism and terrorism, says "“These groups are very good at framing their messaging in such a way that it will gain popular appeal. It’s not always blatantly racist...[but]...Fundamentally their ideology is anti-democratic."[26]

Many of Fraser Anning's party have links to white supremacism and some are convicted criminals. There has been attempted infiltration to the Liberal Democratic Party (a libertarian party), echoing the Lads Society's attempts to infiltrate the National Party in 2018.[26]

Far-right extremist Neil Erikson attended a rally in Perth run by Liberal MPs Andrew Hastie and Ian Goodenough in support of White South African farmers.[27] In the same year, Erikson attended a Gold Coast "recruitment event" for the for the Liberal National Party of Queensland, for which he claims his flights were paid by someone else.[28]


Silvio Berlusconi and his Forza Italia party dominated politics from 1994, and gave neo-fascism a new respectability. Caio Giulio Cesare Mussolini, great-grandson of Benito Mussolini, stood for the 2019 European Parliament election, as the member of the far-right Brothers of Italy party. Interior Minister Matteo Salvini has been courting far-right voters. His Northern League Party has become an anti-immigrant, nationalist movement. Both parties are using Mussolini nostalgia to further their aims.[29]

United Kingdom

Far-right politics in the United Kingdom have existed since at least the 1930s, with the formation of Nazi, fascist and anti-semitic movements. It went on to acquire more explicitly racial connotations, being dominated in the 1960s and 1970s by self-proclaimed white nationalist organisations that oppose non-white and Muslim immigration, such as the National Front (NF), the British Movement (BM) and British National Party (BNP), or the British Union of Fascists (BUF). Since the 1980s, the term has mainly been used to describe those groups, such as the English Defence League, who express the wish to preserve what they perceive to be British culture, and those who campaign against the presence of non-indigenous ethnic minorities and what they perceive to be an excessive number of asylum seekers.

The NF and the BNP have been strongly opposed to non-white immigration. They have encouraged the repatriation of ethnic minorities: the NF favours compulsory repatriation, while the BNP favours voluntary repatriation. The BNP have had a number of local councillors in some inner-city areas of East London, and towns in Yorkshire and Lancashire, such as Burnley and Keighley. East London has been the bedrock of far-right support in the UK since the 1930s, whereas BNP success in the north of England is a newer phenomenon. The only other part of the country to provide any significant level of support for such views is the West Midlands.

United States

In the United States, the term "hard right" has been used to describe groups such as the Tea Party movement and the Patriot movement.[30][31] The term has also been used to describe ideologies such as paleoconservatism, Dominion Theology and white nationalism.[32]


See also



  1. ^ a b c Baker, Peter (28 May 2016). "Rise of Donald Trump Tracks Growing Debate Over Global Fascism". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 7 June 2016.
  2. ^ a b c Aubrey, Stefan M. The New Dimension of International Terrorism. p. 45. Zurich: vdf Hochschulverlag AG, 2004. ISBN 3-7281-2949-6
  3. ^ a b Hilliard, Robert L. and Michael C. Keith, Waves of Rancor: Tuning in the Radical Right (Armonk, New York: M.E. Sharpe Inc., 1999, p. 43
  4. ^ "Historical Exhibition Presented by the German Bundestag" (PDF).
  5. ^ Carlisle, Rodney P., ed., The Encyclopedia of Politics: The Left and the Right, Volume 2: The Right (Thousand Oaks, California, United States; London, England; New Delhi, India: Sage Publications, 2005) p. 693.
  6. ^ Golder, Matt (11 May 2016). "Far Right Parties in Europe". Annual Review of Political Science. 19 (1): 477–497. doi:10.1146/annurev-polisci-042814-012441.
  7. ^
  8. ^ Hilliard, Robert L. and Michael C. Keith, Waves of Rancor: Tuning in the Radical Right (Armonk, New York: M.E. Sharpe, Inc., 1999) p. 38.
  9. ^ Peter Davies; Derek Lynch (2002). The Routledge Companion to Fascism and the Far Right. Psychology Press. ISBN 978-0-415-21494-0. Retrieved 19 August 2011. In addition, conservative Christians often endorsed far-right regimes as the lesser of two evils, especially when confronted with militant atheism in the USSR.
  10. ^ Oliver H. Woshinsky. Explaining Politics: Culture, Institutions, and Political Behavior. (Oxon, England; New York City, United States: Routledge, 2008) p. 155.
  11. ^ Oliver H. Woshinsky. Explaining Politics: Culture, Institutions, and Political Behavior. (Oxon, England; New York City, United States: Routledge, 2008) p. 154.
  12. ^ Woshinsky, Oliver H., Explaining Politics: Culture, Institutions, and Political Behavior (Oxon, England; New York City, United States: Routledge, 2008) p. 156.
  13. ^ a b Mudde, Cas (2002). The Ideology of the Extreme Right. Manchester University Press. ISBN 978-0-7190-6446-3., p. 12]
  14. ^ Ware, Alan (1996). Political Parties and Party Systems. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-878076-2.
  15. ^ Norris, Pippa (2005). Radical Right: Voters and Parties in the Electoral Market. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-84914-2.
  16. ^ Betz and Immerfall, pp. 4–5
  17. ^ Parsons, Craig and Timothy M. Smeeding, Immigration and the transformation of Europe (Cambridge University Press, 2006) p. 18.
  18. ^ a b Widfeldt, Anders, "A fourth phase of the extreme right? Nordic immigration-critical parties in a comparative context". In: NORDEUROPAforum (2010:1/2), 7–31,
  19. ^ William Safire. Safire's Political Dictionary. Oxford, England, UK: Oxford University Press, 2008. p. 385.
  20. ^ Klaus von Beyme: "Right-wing extremism in post-war Europe". In: West European Politics 11 (1988:2), 2–18.
  21. ^ Rydgren, J. (2007) The Sociology of the Radical Right, Annual Review of Sociology, pp. 241–63
  22. ^ Rydgren, J. (2007) The Sociology of the Radical Right, Annual Review of Sociology, p. 247
  23. ^ Art, David (2011). Inside the Radical Right. New York: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9781139498838.
  24. ^ Allen, Trevor J. (8 July 2015). "All in the party family? Comparing far right voters in Western and Post-Communist Europe". Party Politics. 23 (3): 274–285. doi:10.1177/1354068815593457. ISSN 1354-0688.
  25. ^ a b c Moghadam, Assaf. The Roots of Terrorism. pp. 57–58. New York: Infobase Publishing, 2006. ISBN 0-7910-8307-1
  26. ^ a b c Smee, Ben (4 May 2019). "'Quite frightening': the far-right fringe of the election campaign is mobilising". The Guardian. Retrieved 4 May 2019.
  27. ^ Martin, Sarah (1 May 2019). "Video shows far-right extremist Neil Erikson at rally headlined by Hastie and Goodenough". The Guardian. Retrieved 5 May 2019.
  28. ^ Martin, Sarah; Knaus, Christopher (3 May 2019). "Neil Erikson attended Gold Coast 'recruitment event' for the Liberal National party". The Guardian. Retrieved 5 May 2019.
  29. ^ Mantesso, Sean (26 May 2019). "The ghost of Benito Mussolini lingers as far-right popularity surges in Italy". ABC News. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 26 May 2019.
  30. ^ Gilbert, Doug. "U.S. Hard Right Being Bolstered by the Mainstream - Political Research Associates".
  31. ^ Wills, Garry (11 February 2016). "The Triumph of the Hard Right". The New York Review of Books.
  32. ^ "Untitled Document".
  33. ^ "Ukraine crisis: the neo-Nazi brigade fighting pro-Russian separatists". The Daily Telegraph. 11 August 2014.
  34. ^ "German TV Shows Nazi Symbols on the Helmets of Ukrainian Soldiers". NBC News.