Anti Fascism,  Europe,  Tories

Tories and Extremists: Revisited

There was a certain degree of excitement at the beginning of the month about the Tories’ association – through the new European Conservatives and Reformists group – with Michal Kaminski, of Poland’s Law and Order party, and Roberts Zile, of Latvia’s Freedom and Fatherland party.

We covered the issues here, and also looked at the response of the Tories: which was to point out that Labour was ‘in bed with’ some pretty ghastly sorts in the Party of European Socialists grouping.

I pointed out, at the time, that there were some dismal parties in the European Peoples’ Party grouping as well:

If they’d stayed in the European People’s Party, they’d have been in alliance with Berlusconi’s The People of Freedom Party. That party is formed, in part, by the National Alliance, whose roots are in the Italian Fascist movement. Granted, Fini and the National Alliance has moved some distance from its fascist past, but the thought still makes your flesh crawl, doesn’t it?

I was thinking, in particular, of the initiative to fingerprint Roma and Sinti people in Italy. Not good.

John Rosenthal has another example of the unsavoury types in the EPP:

It also includes the Hungarian Fidesz party of the former — and according to current polls, likely future — Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

Iran’s Press TV liked a recent television interview with Fidesz MP Oszkar Molnar so much that it devoted an article to it under the title “Israel plans to devour the world: Hungarian MP.” “I’m a Hungarian nationalist,” Molnar is quoted as saying:

I love my homeland, love the Hungarians and give primacy to Hungarian interests over those of global capital — Jewish capital, if you like — which wants to devour the entire world, especially Hungary.

For evidence that such comments are hardly unusual for Molnar, see veteran Austrian journalist Karl Pfeifer’s report here. Moreover, as Pfeiffer and others have documented, Fidesz has a long history of coquetting with openly racist and anti-Semitic currents in Hungarian politics and society. In a recent article in the Berlin alternative weekly Jungle World, Pfeiffer notes that:

In spring 2008, the journalist Zsolt Bayer, who is close toFidesz, published an article in the conservative dailyMagyar Hirlap, in which he railed against Jews [i.e., purportedly Jewish authors] whose “mere existence justifies anti-Semitism.” “Let’s not let them piss … in the basin of the [Hungarian] nation,” Bayer wrote. A few days after the publication of the article, Orban posed for a photograph with Bayer. Viewers of Hungarian television also saw images of a close friendship [between Bayer and Orban].

Writing on the same episode in a piece for the website of Austrian public television ORF, Hanna Ronzheimer comments:

That anti-Semitism is becoming increasingly acceptable in polite company [in Hungary] is also the fault of Fidesz. With its political mottos and its simplistic and absurd portrayals of [Hungary’s] supposed enemies, it nourishes already existent prejudices about Jews as cunning capitalists and traitors against the nation.

According to a study conducted by the Hungarian sociologist Pal Tamas and cited in the German daily Handelsblatt, some 50% of Fidesz voters are receptive to anti-Semitism and xenophobia.

I do genuinely believe that the European Union is a powerful moderating force on this sort of extremism. It is, however, a political organisation. Alliances must be built with some parties and not others, if the day to day business of the European Union is to be conducted, effectively. Nevertheless, it is depressing that it is so difficult that moderate British parties, with a proud record of opposing extremism of all sorts, end up having to cut deals with people like this.

Nevertheless, it is unsurprising that the Kaminski failed to gain traction. There isn’t much that one could say about the politics of the European Union which would really surprise or shock people, these days.