Prominent politicians from the rightwing of the main government party, the CDU, are working toward the establishment of a pressure group within their party. The "Berlin Circle" alliance seeks to reinforce rightwing positions within the CDU and to promote a "Europe of Fatherlands," according to Wolfgang Bosbach, Chairman of the Bundestag's Internal Affairs Committee and a participant in the initiative. "Europe of Fatherlands" is a nationalist concept for Europe, favored primarily by organizations of the extreme right. Other than Bosbach, the "Berlin Circle" includes the President of the German League of Expellees (BdV), Erika Steinbach, several former prime ministers and ministers of various German federal states (Stefan Mappus, Joerg Schönbohm) as well as more or less influential members of the German Bundestag. Simultaneously, the former President of the Federation of German Industries (BDI), Hans-Olaf Henkel, has announced that, from now on, he will promote his demand to split up the Euro Zone from within the framework of the "Free Voters" alliance. The influential Henkel is convinced that he could be successful in the next elections with a call for expelling the southern Euro countries. Far rightwing circles are observing his nationalist oriented experiment with a certain amount of sympathy.
General Drift to the Right
The rightward drift leading to the formation of the "Berlin Circle" and to Henkel's political activities has been apparent for years, not only in Germany but in numerous other European countries. One of the best examples is Italy, where, Silvio Berlusconi, beginning back in 1994 - and even more intensified since 2001 - became prime minister bringing allegedly repented fascists into his government. Swiss historian Aram Mattioli described this process as "the rightwing starting to plow up the political culture in its favor." A "trivialization, promotion and, to a certain extent, rehabilitation of Mussolini's dictatorship" has been successfully implemented in Italy. This is the "symptom and result of a general drift to the right," expressed by Berlusconi's electoral victories. The dislocation of the political parameter, which, according to Mattioli, has its origins in the quest for a stronger concentration of power in Rome, gave rise also to an extremist rightwing youth movement ("Casa Pound"), one of whose racist disciples recently murdered two Senegalese.
National Myths, Brutality, Censorship
The Hungarian government attracted attention throughout Europe about a year ago with its anti-democratic measures. The country's new media law was widely criticized for its palpable limitations on freedom of the press. The ruling Fidesz Party, in power in Hungary since May 2010, is clearly ethnic chauvinistically oriented, and - even worse - the party enjoys a two-thirds parliamentary majority. The party has used this predominance to introduce a new constitution, taking strong reference from national myths ("Holy Hungarian Crown"), and to force critical and progressive elements out of the cultural arena and scholarly institutions. This development is accompanied by a strong increase in anti-Semitism and an escalation of aggression against Romany, which has led to the murder of at least seven Roma over the past few years. The armed militia, attacking mainly Roma, are notorious. Their activities were extolled on a Hungarian internet portal: "If the thieving parasites attack, they will get buckshot up their asses." The government in Budapest is intervening against these activities as little as it is intervening against massive censorship measures, for example in its state-owned television. For days, several journalists have been protesting with a hunger-strike. Censorship has, in fact, already been implemented under the new media law, which has been declared unconstitutional, albeit only under the laws of the previous constitution. The new one, legislated by the Fidesz Party, which does not prohibit the media law, only takes effect January 1, 2012.
Partisans of Military Dictatorship
Recently, a rightwing extremist party was again made a direct coalition partner in a country's government - in Greece. The newly installed transitional government - imposed under the supervision of Berlin and Brussels - includes not only the conservative and social democratic parties but also the LAOS Party (Laikós Orthódoxos Synagermés, "Orthodox People's Alarm"). The LAOS Party musters also partisans of the former military dictatorship and is known for its racist and anti-Semitic invectives. Giorgos Karatzaferis, LAOS Party Chairperson, is quoted to have proclaimed that he is proud "not to be Jewish, homosexual and communist," which "only few can claim." He is said to have called out to the Israeli ambassador: "Jew ambassador, watch out where you tread! Let's discuss the Holocaust, let's talk about all the fairy tales about Auschwitz and Dachau." Makis Voridis, a member of the LAOS Party and minister of transportation in the Greek government, imposed by Berlin and Brussels, began his political career as the leader of a youth organization of the party presided over by Georgios Papadopoulos. Papadopoulos had been the military commander of the junta. He founded that party after he had been released from prison, in the aftermath of the overthrow of his dictatorship. The German government evidently considers the LAOS Party helpful for implementing its austerity dictate.
Simultaneously, in other European countries, extreme rightwing parties are gaining significance. According to opinion polls, the Austrian Freedom Party (FPÖ) is on the verge of becoming the strongest political force in the country. If this proves the case in the 2013 National Assembly elections, the next Austrian chancellor could be from the FPÖ. In France, opinion polls place the Front National currently at 20 percent. The Vlaams Belang has, for years, maintained a similar score in Belgium's northern region of Flanders. In the Netherlands, using blatantly racist agitation, the rightwing extremist politician Geert Wilders won more than 15 percent in the parliamentary elections. His party has since been tolerating the government in The Hague- with correlative influence possibilities. Most recently, the successes of various rightwing extremist parties in Scandinavia (the "Sweden Democrats," the "Real Finns," the "Danish People's Party") have been making headlines. It cannot be ignored that the drift into ethnic chauvinist racism, apparent in wide sections of Europe, has repeatedly led to murder and murder series - for example, recently in Norway, Germany and Italy. This is in contradiction with the still persisting self-perception of the continent being modern and allegedly enlightened, thanks to the wave of modernization during the 1960s and '70s. In fact, however, today's Europe resembles more the Europe of the 1920s and '30s.
The fact that in Germany, of all places, at the seat of European hegemony, there is no extreme rightwing party that has really become prominent, can be explained by particular historical attributes. Because of historical experiences, the rise of a strong neo-Nazi force in Germany would hardly be tolerated abroad without serious resistance. Yet, racist, anti-democratic positions are making inroads with growing brazenness also in Germany. Last year, the SPD politician Thilo Sarrazin, at the time, member of the board of the German Bundesbank published a book whose racist invectives against "Turks and Arabs" are hardly different from the FPÖ or Vlaams Belang positions. More than a million copies of the book have been printed and it is already the most sold political nonfiction book of the decade. In the meantime, placing restrictions on parliamentary democracy is being openly discussed in German elite circles. Last fall, public-sector radio broadcast advertisement for the book entitled "Dare Less Democracy" ("Weniger Demokratie wagen"). (german-foreign-policy.com reported.) The drift to the right that this demonstrates, has led to an organizational rearrangement of forces on the rightwing spectrums of the mainstream political parties. The development of the Euro crisis over the next few days, weeks and months will have a great influence on how this drift will continue to evolve.