After Loss in Austria, a Look at Europe's Right-wing Parties

While the far-right Norbert Hofer didn't win Austria's presidency, the contest highlights Europe's growing populist movements. What do these parties stand for?

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Former right-wing Austrian Freedom Party presidential candidate Norbert Hofer and party leader Heinz Christian Strache attend a news conference, Vienna, Austria, May 24, 2016.
Former right-wing Austrian Freedom Party presidential candidate Norbert Hofer and party leader Heinz Christian Strache attend a news conference, Vienna, Austria, May 24, 2016.Credit: Joe Klamar, AFP

Right-winger Norbert Hofer of the Freedom Party narrowly lost Austria's presidential runoff this week. Though he didn't win, the contest was viewed in Europe as a proxy fight pitting the continent's political center against its growing populist and anti-establishment movements. 

Here's a look at Europe's major right-wing parties and where they stand:


Hofer's Freedom Party has used anti-EU sentiment and fear that Austria could be overrun by refugees to become the country's most popular political force. The party's rise reflects deep dissatisfaction with the Social Democrats and the centrist People's Party, which have dominated Austrian politics since the end of World War II.


The right-wing Croatian Democratic Union dominates Croatia's ruling coalition. Party leader and deputy Prime Minister Tomislav Karamarko was among several top government officials who recently attended a commemoration of Croatian fascist soldiers killed by communist partisans at the end of World War II.


Far-right ELAM won seats in Cyprus' parliament for the first time during elections marked by low turnout Sunday. ELAM advocates a hard-line nationalist stance in talks with breakaway Turkish Cypriots aimed at reunifying the ethnically split island nation.


The nationalist Danish People's party supports a center-right minority government in Parliament in exchange for a say on some government policies including immigration, which it opposes.


The right-wing populist Finns Party has been part of Finland's government since 2015, in coalition with the Center and conservative parties.


The far-right, anti-immigrant National Front is increasingly popular under leader Marine Le Pen, who has brought it toward the political mainstream. She is expected to make it into the presidential election runoff next year. The party was the top vote-getter in regional and European elections last year, but maneuvering by traditional parties kept it from winning any governorships, and may keep Le Pen from the presidency.


The far-right National Democratic Party is fighting efforts by Germany's 16 states to ban it for unconstitutional policies. The party has also lost voters in recent years to the national Alternative for Germany, which espouses anti-immigrant and anti-Islam positions. Since being founded three years ago AfD has entered the European Parliament and eight state assemblies, and is polling a double-digit share of the vote nationwide.


Golden Dawn, a Nazi-inspired fringe group, became a mainstream player in 2012 when it first entered parliament riding an anti-establishment and anti-immigration wave. Officials from the party, which came third in national elections last September, have expressed a fondness for Nazi music and paraphernalia.


Hungary's governing Fidesz party, led by Prime Minister Viktor Orban, long ago abandoned its liberal, anti-clerical roots to become a populist, right-wing party extolling the importance of Christian values, embracing extreme anti-immigrant policies and greatly expanding the role of the state. This shift has helped stunt the advance of the far-right Jobbik party, the second-largest opposition group in parliament since 2010.


The anti-Europe Northern Leauge has aligned itself with other nationalist parties, hosting in Milan earlier this year the first meeting earlier of the Europe of Nations and Freedom group within the European Parliament. Leader Matteo Salvini is vocal in his opposition mass migration from the Middle East and Africa, often citing the arrivals as a terror threat.


The right-wing Progressive Party has been in a coalition government with the Conservatives since 2013.


Poland's presidency, parliament and government are in the hands of a right-wing, populist Law and Justice party that won presidential and parliamentary elections last year. The party led by Jaroslaw Kaczynski has embarked on sweeping changes aimed at promoting Poland's traditional Catholic values.


The right-wing populist Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) is the ruling party in Serbia, winning two consecutive elections by a landslide. Its leader Aleksandar Vucic, a former ultranationalist turned self-declared pro-EU reformer, has won Western support on promises to promote peace in the war-torn Balkans despite his hard-line policies at home that included a clampdown on free media and the opposition.


The nationalist Swiss People's Party has the largest number of seats in Parliament and two Cabinet posts. It regularly backs referendums aimed at restricting immigration and supported a ban on the construction of mosques in Switzerland.

United Kingdom

The right-wing UK Independence Party led by Nigel Farage has helped pressure the government into calling the referendum on Britain's EU membership that will be held on June 23. Farage has blamed immigrants for putting a strain on hospitals, schools, housing and other services and says Britain must secure its borders and reclaim its sovereignty by leaving the EU. The party has one member in Parliament.

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