(JTA) — Armed with ropes and long sticks, a group of teens in Germany’s capital headed out under the cover of night. Their goal: to tear down from lampposts the campaign posters of the neo-Nazi National Democratic Party.
The young people are one small posse among those who fear gains for far-right parties in the upcoming elections for European Parliament.
While the NPD seems unlikely to get more than a single seat, far-right parties in other European countries are looking forward to major advances.
Ronald Lauder, president of the World Jewish Congress, told JTA that he is worried about “a surge in the number of extremist, racist and anti-Semitic lawmakers in Strasbourg and Brussels.”
The parliament, he said, should establish a “no platform policy toward those parties to ensure that they are completely marginalized in the decision-making process.”
Taking place May 22-25 amid economic hard times, the elections are expected to yield a strong showing for far-right, far-left and anti-establishment parties.
Polls suggest that Euroskeptic parties are likely to take a quarter or more of the parliament’s maximum 751 seats. Despite their antipathy toward the European Union, such parties – some unable to win significant representation in the national parliaments of their own countries – are eager for the platform provided by the European Parliament.
The president of the European Jewish Congress, Moshe Kantor, warned that anti-establishment and anti-European parties on the far left and far right are a danger to “all Europeans, including Jews.”
While some Euroskeptic parties have built alliances with like-minded factions from other countries, they are a fractious lot.
There is a divide between left and right, as well as fissures within the right. Far-right parties aiming for broader appeal have been reluctant to cooperate with overtly fascist parties.
“Even if those Euroskeptic extreme-right parties will be more powerful in the next parliament – and they will be – their power will not be enough to block legislation. I don’t believe this will happen,” said Jean-Yves Camus, a French researcher on anti-Semitism and far-right parties, citing such divisions.