European ethno-nationalist and white supremacist movements thrive

These far-right political parties have therefore been able to unite ethno-nationalism with populism by propagating the notion that ethno-nationalism serves the average hardworking individual and the broader national identity. Their propaganda campaigns have allowed them to generate substantial popular support and make gains in domestic elections. The AfD came in third in Germany’s September 2017 parliamentary elections.4 In March 2018’s Italian parliamentary elections, the far-right, anti-immigrant Lega Nord (“Northern League”) party succeeded in becoming the third largest party in Italy’s parliament. In June 2018, League leader Matteo Salvini assumed the role of Italy’s interior minister. He has since refused a migrant aid ship permission to dock in Italy and called for a national census to address “the Roma question.”5 Both parties also view the European Union as a harmful foreign influence that has undermined the sovereignty of their respective nations.6 Salvini has even derided the euro as a “German currency” and a “crime against humanity.”7

Some ethno-nationalist political movements have openly embraced the language and symbolism of the Nazi movement. In Hungary, Gabor Vona, the former chair of the far-right Jobbik, has blamed international Jewry for attempting to buy Hungary and interfere in its elections. Jobbik has also used the Nazi “Arrow Cross” to symbolize pride in Hungary’s Nazi past.8 In 2014, a Hungarian court ruled that Jobbik may be referred to as “neo-Nazi” in Hungary.9 Despite similarities in propaganda, however, not all of Europe’s far-right political movements have openly embraced links to the Nazi or neo-Nazi movements. Members of the French anti-immigrant Les Identitaires movement reject violence and consider themselves to be patriots defending European identity from cultural corruption imposed by Islamic mores.10 Les Identitaires’ youth wing, Generation Identity (GI), has a presence across Europe and uses social media and popular demonstrations to propagate similar anti-Islamic notions and gain traction with young people.11

Some of Europe’s historically non-political, violent far-right groups have not only embraced similar populist language to the ethno-nationalist political movements, but also continue to espouse openly racist concepts and employ violence to achieve their visions of an ethnically homogenous state. Combat 18, a violent neo-Nazi skinhead group founded in the United Kingdom in 1992, currently has a presence in at least 18 countries.12 Similar to ISIS in its aim to create a Muslim-only caliphate, the group encourages supporters to carry out lone-wolf terrorist attacks as part of its greater aim to create white-only countries through violence.13 National Action is another group of young far-right extremists that, in 2016, became the first far-right group to be labeled as a terrorist organization in the United Kingdom after it praised the murder

of a parliamentarian.14 The group, whose members believe that “Britain should be for British people,”15 reportedly operates training camps where recruits learn hand-to-hand combat in preparation for “white jihad.”16 Not only do these violent white supremacist groups employ similar strategies to some of the most prominent Islamic terror groups, but they are also motivated to pursue the radical end goal of an ethnically or culturally homogenous state due to similar concerns that their identity and way of life are under threat.

The report’s key findings

·  European far-right ethno-nationalist groups have cast immigrants as a scapegoat for economic hardship faced by young Europeans. Rather than promote overt white supremacy, these groups denigrate minorities—particularly Muslim immigrants—as detrimental to European culture.

·  Far-right political parties like Germany’s Alternative für Deutschland and Italy’s Lega Nord have been able to generate substantial popular support by promising to defend their respective countries against the cultural attacks of immigrants and foreign influences, and have consequently made gains in domestic parliamentary elections.

·  Groups like Les Identitaires and its youth wing, Generation Identity, have renounced violence in favor of utilizing social media and public demonstrations to portray themselves as legitimate, mainstream movements protecting European culture. These groups have directly targeted Europe’s youth through social media and public demonstrations.

·  Groups including Combat 18 and the Nordic Resistance Movement, which openly embrace neo-Nazi ideology and violent tactics, are still able to recruit for violent activities, despite the rise of non-violent, populist groups.


1 “Rede von Bundeskanzlerin Merkel zum Gedenktag für die Opfer von Flucht und Vertreibung am 20. Juni 2018 in 1Berlin,” Die Bundeskanzlerin, June 20, 2018,

2 “Manifesto on The Guidelines For a Future Jobbik-Led Government,” Jobbik, accessed June 25, 2018,….

3 “Manifesto for Germany,” Alternative für Deutschland, accessed June 27, 2018, 48,

4 Kate Connolly, “German election: Merkel wins fourth term but far-right AfD surges to third,” Guardian (London), 4September 24, 2017,

5 “Italian interior minister wants census of Roma communities,” Reuters, June 18, 2018,

6 “Manifesto for Germany,” Alternative für Deutschland, accessed June 27, 2018, 7,… Simon Osborne, “‘It’s a GERMAN currency!’ Lega Nord vows to pull Italy from euro ‘MISTAKE,’” Express (London), February 8, 2018,

7 Simon Osborne, “‘It’s a GERMAN currency!’ Lega Nord vows to pull Italy from euro ‘MISTAKE,’” Express (London), February 8, 2018,… Elizabeth Schumacher, “Matteo Salvini: Italy’s far-right success story,” Deutsche Welle, March 5, 2018,

8 “Ungarn schützen, das ist unser Ziel: Bededikt Frings für die DS im Gespräch mit Gábor Vona, dem Chef der 8Ungarischen Garde,” in Deutsche Stimme (May 2008): 9.

9 “Gerichtsurteil in Ungarn: Jobbik darf als Neonazipartei bezeichnet werden,” Spiegel Online, January 28, 2014, 9

10 Associated Press, “French far-right group has message in menu,”, December 10, 2011,

11 Sumi Somaskanda, “Identitarian movement - Germany’s ‘new right’ hipsters,” Deutsche Welle, June 23, 2017, 11

12 Terrorism and Violent Extremism Awareness Guide. Quebec: RCMP Communications Office, 2016,… “Division Polonia,” Division Polonia Blood C18 Honor, accessed April 10, 2018,; “C18 Hungary,” C18 Hungary, accessed April 10, 2018,; “Aryan Strikeforce/Combat 18 Ukraine,”, accessed April 10, 2018,; Bianca Hall “Neo-Nazi group Combat 18 plasters anti-Islam stickers over children’s playground in Heidelberg West,” Age (Victoria), August 26, 2015,

13 “National Socialist Political Soldiers Handbook,” Combat 18, accessed April 2, 2018,

14 Jessica Elgot, “Neo-Nazi group National Action banned by UK home secretary,” Guardian (London), December 1412, 2016,

15 Lucy Sherriff, “Meet New Neo-Nazi Group National Action Which Just Wants To ‘Piss People Off,’” Huffington Post, June 3, 2014,

16 “Banned neo-Nazi group National Action ‘kept meeting,’” BBC News, June 14, 2018,; Charlie Bayliss, “National Action ‘members attended terror-style training camps to learn judo, kickboxing and street fighting martial arts for upcoming race war,’” Daily Mail (London), June 13, 2018,… Lucy Sherriff, “Meet New Neo-Nazi Group National Action Which Just Wants To ‘Piss People Off,’” Huffington Post, June 3, 2014,

— Read more in European Ethno-Nationalist and White Supremacy Groups (Counter Extremism Project, 2019)