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African Journal of Hospitality, Tourism and Leisure Vol.

4 (2) Special edition - (2015) ISSN: 2223-814X


Copyright: 2014 AJHTL - Open Access- Online @ http//:www .ajhtl.com

The rise of the far right in Europe and the


impact on tourism
Athena Smith, PhD.
Hillsborough Community College, Florida,
United States of America
Asmith12@hccfl.edu
Abstract
The rise of the far right in Europe is gaining momentum and the taboo of fascism is fading fast. Whereas
in the US the members of the far right come from the fringes of society, often classified as hate groups in
Europe they originate from mainstream groups. Lack of social movements that resemble the civil rights
movements in the United States of America can be a possible cause of the acceptance and popularity of
such parties. Difficulties in integrating immigrants has exacerbated an inflamed by unemployment and
economic woes situation. The increasing xenophobia is a classic example of ingroup/outgroup
competition and friction, which in the political arena is encouraging the adoption of nationalistic agendas
and racist policies and which impacts negatively on tourism for example. Competing parties from the
moderate center are trying to gain voters by approaching the policies of the far right.
Key words: Europe, far right, racism, xenophobia, civil rights, fascism.

Source: http://mx3.politicususa.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/RightWingExtremist.jpeg

African Journal of Hospitality, Tourism and Leisure Vol. 4 (2) Special edition - (2015) ISSN: 2223-814X
Copyright: 2014 AJHTL - Open Access- Online @ http//:www .ajhtl.com
Introduction:
Racism

The

Construction

of

Racism has been defined as the beliefs and


practices of a group that feels superior
because
of
physical
or
cultural
characteristics, aiming at separating it from
others who are different in a particular
society. Although racism mostly aims at
producing a new hierarchical system of
superiors vs inferiors, there are times
and settings when it simply aims at
promoting a cultural rejection of a group,
without seeking social isolation or expulsion.
The former type results in the formation of
powerful group dynamics that aim at
changing the legal status of a society so
that the minority group will be expulsed or
subjugated, while the latter is used as a
stereotypical condemnation of the presence
of those who are different and who are
perceived to be competing with the majority.
The interplay of racist relations dynamics is
based on the theory of in-group vs outgroups. As people define themselves in
terms of social groups, they distinguish
them in those they identify with (ingroups)
and those they despise or feel competition
towards or reject for other reasons
(outgroups) (Sumner, 1906). Expanding on
this dichotomy, the social identity theory
developed by Tajfel and Turner (1979)
exemplifies the power of group membership
in shaping attitudes. As people need to
boost their self-image, they usually resort to
boosting the image of their ingroup. This
tendency has been exploited by politicians
who have cultivated an enhanced sense of
nationalism in order to promote unity. Often
nationalism will encourage ethnocentrism
within a people, which will manifest itself in
rejection of others who do not share the
same nationality, and who will be assessed
according to popular stereotypes. The
natives will be united through a powerful
ingroup orientation whereas the foreigners
will be judged as an outgroup to be
mistrusted. Thus societies witness waves of
xenophobia and racism that have promoted
conflict and inner divisions.

Xenophobia has been powerful since


ancient civilizations. The Egyptian King was
believed to be a God whereas the Egyptians
believed their country was the center of the
world and they were Gods chosen people
(Adrian, N.D.).Ancient Greeks considered
foreigners to be barbarian, whereas certain
tribes like the Macedonians and the
Boeoteans were excluded from the Hellenic
community for reasons of presumed
inferiority
(Bakaoukas,
2005).
The
Byzantines were mistrustful of Latins that
led to the 1182 pogrom of Constantinople,
which resulted in the massacre of
thousands of Latins (Browning, 1980).
Xenophobia and Nationalism
Xenophobia is a powerful ingredient of
racism. Political parties belonging to the far
right fuel their rise on promoting a
nationalistic
agenda
that
ostracizes
foreigners. Europe has witnessed powerful
waves of xenophobia since the middle ages.
During the thirteenth and fourteenth
centuries, Jews were identified with the
devil and witchcraft, whereas by 1300, the
friars and local priests were using the
Passion Plays at Easter time, which
depicted Jews as killers of Christ, teaching
hate and encouraging murdering Jews. It
was at this point that persecutions and
exiles became endemic (El-Shahawny,
2010).
Later, the waves of revolutions in Europe
that led to the creation of nation-states,
exacerbated the problem. The 19th century
nationalism produced a cultural shift
towards democracy on the one hand, but
concurrently it also strengthened the
notion of identity based on language and
culture. Language and cultures however
competed with those of other people who
did not share these traits, and thus nation
states fought hard to safeguard their
borders and identities. Xenophobia
became a powerful tool that promoted
nationalism, whereas minorities within the
nation, as well as peoples of other nations,
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African Journal of Hospitality, Tourism and Leisure Vol. 4 (2) Special edition - (2015) ISSN: 2223-814X
Copyright: 2014 AJHTL - Open Access- Online @ http//:www .ajhtl.com
became the objects of discrimination.
Racial theories emerged to offer a
scientific basis of discrimination, and for
the first time one witnessed a wave of
writers claiming that races constituted
different species (Fredrickson, 2003).
Discussions of race included dimensions
of morality, intelligence, civilization and
barbarism. Arthur de Gobineau wrote in
his Essai sur l'inegalit des races
humaines : "Considering it by itself, I have
been able to distinguish, on physiological
grounds alone, three great and clearly
marked types, the black, the yellow, and
the white [...] the negroid variety is the
lowest, and stands at the foot of the
ladder. The animal character, which
appears in the shape of the pelvis, is
stamped on the negro from birth, and
foreshadows his destiny." (Howells, 2010,
152). The hate and despise included
ethnic groups as well, with the Jews being
the prime target. The 19th century
witnessed a wave of anti-Jewish riots in
Germany, Denmark, and Latvia whereas
the Czar Nicholas issued an oppressive
constitution for the Jews in Russia.
The Rise of Neo Fascism in Europe
The road had been paved with the seeds
of despise and mistrust towards people
who were deemed different.Decades of
immigration from the developing world
(especially from Muslim North Africa) have
been perceived as threatening the
cohesive social fiber.In 2013, Eurostat
polling showed that only 22% of European
citizens think the EU really represents
cultural diversity while at the same time
migration has been the main driver of
population growth in many European
countries (Debating Europe, 2014).The
despise and mistrust have focused today
mainly on immigrants, who are blamed for
draining social services and stealing jobs.
The
economic
crisis
and
high
unemployment rates led to austerity
measures that have questioned the
legitimacy of the EU. In 2012 the president
of the European parliament, Martin Sculz,

spoke of the crisis of confidence as people


started doubting the power of democracy
to solve critical issues (Schroder, 2012).
Furthermore, the European establishment
in Brussels appears to be further
undermining this confidence as it is being
perceived representing the old historical
left supported by high taxes, strong
welfare state and meager defense
budgets (Kaplan, 2014). Although this
model seemed to be working in the Cold
war era, when the continent was protected
by the American military to a serious
extent, currently, the economic woes have
helped the right dust off the stigma that
accompanied it after WW2, leading to the
creation of neo fascist parties (Ibid).
According to Kaplan, this is where the
danger lies. There is no taboo any more
against neo fascism. The fear of the new
arrivals has fuelled the growth of the far
right movement.
One has witnessed a 50% increase for
such parties in the most recent European
elections. More precisely, when thirty
years ago most xenophobic parties failed
to even pass the 5% minimum voter
threshold that is typically required to enter
government, today they have won 28% of
the parliament in Austria, and 70% in
Hungary (Mayfield, 2013). Countries
famous for their liberalism and tolerance
such as inter alia, Switzerland and the
Netherlands have succumbed to their
destructive attraction. Switzerland has
even restricted the construction of
mosques and minarets (SwissInfo, 2009).
Commentators and analysts alike, fear
that the emerging coalition of far right
parties in Europe poses a serious threat to
the European project. That threat gained a
serious momentum by the launch of a
pan-European alliance of far-right parties,
led by the French National Front and the
Dutch Freedom party that vowed to slay
"the monster in Brussels" (Palmer, 2013).
Its agenda includes keeping national
sovereignty
while
decreasing
the
federalization of the Union, reforming the
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African Journal of Hospitality, Tourism and Leisure Vol. 4 (2) Special edition - (2015) ISSN: 2223-814X
Copyright: 2014 AJHTL - Open Access- Online @ http//:www .ajhtl.com
European
immigration
policy,
strengthening the democratic rights of EU
citizens and the renunciation of the current
common currency policy (Osiander, 2014).

The Party for Freedom in the Netherlands


came fourth in the 2014 European
Parliament election. Itsupports tax cuts,
decentralization, abolition of the minimum
wage, and limiting child benefits and
government subsidies. It supports the
adoption of an official Dutch culture based
on
Judeo-Christian
and
humanist
traditions, which should also by adopted
and embraced by the immigrants. As for
immigration, if it originates from nonwestern countries it should be stopped
while it opposes an Islamic presence in
the country and has called for a ban on
the Quran. In a recent rally, its leader, Mr
Wilders asked the crowd whether they
wanted more or fewer Moroccans. When
the crowd answered back with fewer he
promised to arrange that (The Economist,
2014). Its Eurosceptic stance has led its
leaders to support a total break up with the
EU. At the same time however it opposes
conservative fiscal measures, with its

leader, Mr. Wilders staging a rally in The


Hague to demand a halt to the Dutch
governments latest austerity measures
(The Economist, 2013).
In June 2015, Denmark elections saw a
dramatic shift to the extreme right with the
Danish Peoples Party running second with
21% of the vote while the liberals came in
third with 12%. Currently, although
supporting the new government, it is also
drafting tough new asylum policies and
plans to cut aid to the developing world .The
Peoples Party runs on an anti-foreigner,
anti-Islamic platform while promising
benefits to the older generation. Mark
Leonard, director of the European Council
on Foreign Relations explained the rise in
terms of large groups being left behind by
the forces of globalization. In an interview to
the New York Times (Erlanger, 2015) he
asserted that a new political order is being
drafted, with centrist parties that were
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African Journal of Hospitality, Tourism and Leisure Vol. 4 (2) Special edition - (2015) ISSN: 2223-814X
Copyright: 2014 AJHTL - Open Access- Online @ http//:www .ajhtl.com
dominant in the past now moving to the
fringes, whereas former fringe parties move
to the center of the political arena.The
Social Democrats in Denmark have also
fueled
the
xenophobic
sentiment,
exemplified in a recent interview with the
Danish Prime Minister, Helle ThorningSchmidt. When she was asked in a
televised debate if she believed that
Denmark was "a multiethnic society", she
unequivocally stated that the country is not,
despite the fact that 7% of Danes, including
some prominent politicians in her own party,
have non-European backgrounds (Orange,
2015). With the Prime Minster standing
tough against asylum seekers and
immigration, the opposition chose the
survival tactic of moving further to the right.
The Conservative Party rolled out Stop
Nazi Islamism posters, and the Liberal
Party demanded an immediate halt to a
nearly explosive influx of asylum seekers
(Ibid).The populist Danish Peoples Party,
has been able to watch others do its job and
thus is in a position to attract more
moderate voters. And here lies the common
denominator of the success of the far right
in many European countries. They have
succeeded to appear mainstream, not only
by having the opposition adopt their
agenda, but by themselves adopting liberal
policies towards gays, disabled, women, the
elderly and even animals. These parties on
occasion have the support of naturalized
immigrants as well who agree that Denmark
should do more to help Syrians and others
in their home countries rather than in
Scandinavia (Milne, 2015).
In France, the Front National came in
second in the local elections of March 2015.
The party has been running on a number of
nationalistic themes including a separation
from the European Union while it has also
distanced itself from the most vocal racist
elements. The leader, following in her
infamous fathers footsteps, Marine Le Pen,
has stated that if elected, she would
organize a referendum on the exit of France
from the European Union. Concurrently the
party has scored victories on the issue of

cultural identity, a debate fueled by


economic stagnation that in certain regions
has
acquired
dramatic
proportions.
Specifically, one of the strongholds of the
NF, the wider Picardy region has lost a third
of its industrial jobs in the past 15 years,
and unemployment spiked to 14%
(Williamson, 2015). The partys leader
promises, if elected, to reduce legal
immigration to France from the current
200,000 a year to 10,000 and ban automatic
immigration rights to join a spouse or family
member residing legally in France. She
would also toughen the requirements to get
French citizenship, which the FN says
should not be automatic, while insisting that
applicants
demonstrate
a
strong
commitment to France and its language.
She would adopt a zero tolerance of illegal
immigration and enforce an end to illegal
immigrants rights to remain in France if
they have been in the country for a given
period. She would ensure that priority be
given to French citizens over foreigners for
jobs and for social housing. She would
terminate dual nationality for nonEuropeans, which would particularly affect
citizens of former French colonies. The
party also favors total legalization of
abortion, while it opposes gay marriage and
adoption (France 24, 2014).
The success of the party is feeding on the
rising racism of the population.The
independent Council of Europe has warned
that France is becoming more intolerant
towards minority groups, including Gypsies,
Muslims and Jews. Nils Muiznieks, the
Council's Commissioner for Human Rights
lamented that there has been a huge
increase in anti-Semitic, anti-Muslim and
homophobic acts. He pointed to the fact that
in the first half of 2014 alone, the number of
anti-Semitic acts doubled, while the number
of Jews leaving France for Israel tripled
compared with 2012, which is a telling
indication of their feeling of insecurity
(Kessler, 2015). French Prime Minister
Manuel Valls lamented that racism,
antisemitism, hatred of Muslims, hatred of
foreigners and homophobia are all rising in
5

African Journal of Hospitality, Tourism and Leisure Vol. 4 (2) Special edition - (2015) ISSN: 2223-814X
Copyright: 2014 AJHTL - Open Access- Online @ http//:www .ajhtl.com
an unbearable way creating a new
apartheid. Accordingly the government is
planning to spend 100m on a three-year
plan against racism, including the setting up
of a new unit to monitor and fight hatred
online (Chrisafis, 2015).
Although these parties are careful to steer
away from associations with Nazism, there
are two dominant entities, in Hungary and
Greece that do not hide their admiration for
fascism. In Hungary, Jobbik, the Movement
for a Better Hungary, is probably one of the
most highly organized far-right movements.
It proclaims to be pro Christian and patriotic
whose purpose is to protect Hungarian
values while rejecting global capitalism,
European integration, demanding detention
camps for Roma deviants and arguing
that Jews are a national security risk
(Paterson, 2014). Brian Whelan (2013)
filmed May Day demonstrations in
Budapest, and described the Jobbik
supporters as a bizarre mix of saluting neoNazi skinheads, elderly nationalists and
ordinary young Hungarians. His film on the
rise of the far right, showed footage of the
stalls selling whips and axes. Members
have been described as thugs who have
intimidated political opponents by carrying
out vicious attacks on Hungarys Roma
community. The European Roma Rights
Centre (ERRC) reported 69 violent attacks
on Roma in which nine Roma were killed
in Hungary, between January 2008 and
September 2012. These killings had been
facilitated by the rhetoric of violence.Today,
the remaining 120,000 Jews are subjected
to vicious racist attacks, with Krisztina
Morvai, now Jobbiks leading MEP, urging
the liberal-Bolshevik Zionists to start
thinking of where to flee and where to hide.
Furthermore, Marton Gyongyosi, the partys
deputy parliamentary leader, called for a
security register of Hungarian Jewish
legislators and ministers, who pose a
security risk. Finally, as a sign of the
popularity of the movement, recently its
delegation was welcomed by the Hungarian
ambassador to the US, Ms. Szemerknyi, in
Washington D.C (Smith, 2014).

The Golden Dawn Party in Greece is quite


similar to the Jobbik ideology and tactics. Its
rising power is due to the economic foes in
the country and the growing number of
illegal immigrants who have concentrated in
certain Athenian neighborhoods, bringing
down property values. They have gained
popularity by offering social services
likeassisting the elderly by taking them
safely to ATMs to make withdrawals, and by
organizing food deliveries to poor Greeks
only. Its leader, Nikolaos Michaloliakos has
spoken of an upcoming civil war between
nationalists and illegal immigrants and
anarchists. Members were accused of
perpetrating attacks on immigrants and
political opponents. The party is organized
along military lines, and although members
deny affiliations to the Neo Nazi principles
and ideology, its badge resembles a
swastika and some of its senior members
have praised Adolf Hitler, including the
leader of the party, who has denied the
existence of gas chambers and crematoria
(BBC News, 2013). Moreover, their
ideology, is described on their website as
"Popular and Social Nationalism", giving
their precise coordinates within the Nazi
ideology. According to Panourgia, (2012)
their tactics closely resemble those of the
Nazis as they have taken on the role of
vigilantes and protectors of the general
public.

Impact on tourism
Many tourists experience some form of
racism while on trips to Europe and there is
no doubt that coming face to face with
racism lead to behavioural changes in
tourists that leave them with very negative
impressions of their hosting countries.
Societies that are previously viewed as
tolerant and multicultural societies (Gilroy
2007) suddenly manifest as racist places
that are highly intolerant of the other and in
which racial abuses are rife. The local
community attitudes that many tourists
experience abroad leaves a great deal to be
desired and very often tourists are caught
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African Journal of Hospitality, Tourism and Leisure Vol. 4 (2) Special edition - (2015) ISSN: 2223-814X
Copyright: 2014 AJHTL - Open Access- Online @ http//:www .ajhtl.com
up in conflict between residents and
government policies on migration and many
tourists also become victims of misguided
stigmatisation and harassment by host
nationals of countries associated with
terrorism (European Commission against
Racism and Intolerance, 2010).
Hotels and tourism bodies need to carefully
mull over measures that must be put in
place so that tourists can feel safer since
their economic contribution benefits the host
community. It is vital to raise awareness of
the immense benefits of tourism for a
country and the huge cataclysmic effects of
racism upon society in general. In Germany
for example, it is important to know that the
country prohibits racial discrimination, but
there is no case law that deals with it. In
numerous radio programmes, dark-skinned
visitors to Germany are urged to consider
avoiding the eastern part of the country and

especially parts of Brandenburg, where


racism is rampant. Africans and other darkskinned people are likely to be attacked or
killed in parts of Berlin. It is often reported
that German police routinely ignore these
racist attacks and Germans, in general, are
in denial about the depth of racism in their
society (http://f3magazine.unicri.it/?p=602).
Viewing financial value as a thing apart,
from an ethical and moral compass
viewpoint, it is absolutely essential that the
problem of racism is strategically addressed
by all tourism stakeholders, since it affects
society at large and international tourists.
Feelings of superiority must be absent in
countries truly seeking to embrace tourists.
It is thus necessary to construct societies
that account for differences between
peoples. Europe is however taking a right
turn. European society needs to act to meet
the needs of all people, including the
others that are not European.

Figure 1. Europes Right Turn


Source: http://cdn2.spiegel.de/images/image-235205-galleryV9-kkui.jpg

African Journal of Hospitality, Tourism and Leisure Vol. 4 (2) Special edition - (2015) ISSN: 2223-814X
Copyright: 2014 AJHTL - Open Access- Online @ http//:www .ajhtl.com
Many tourists thus question whether a trip to
Europe is in fact safe enough for them
anymore.
Conclusion
When the causes of the rise of the far right
are investigated, the increasing xenophobia
appears to be the most powerful fuel. Yet,
the question still remains: What fuels this
xenophobia? According to Lenka Bustikova
(2014), radical right parties grow as a
reaction to the political gains of minorities,
and thus they mobilize to annul those gains.
The successes of the liberal left polarize the
political system and although economic
issues may be analyzed and approached
from a multitude of angles, social issues are
perceived as rigid inflexible topics. The far
right ascends to power when minority social
issues gain momentum, and accordingly
lose power when the latter are ignored.
People of the majority develop a powerful
ingroup orientation and the dislike for the
outgroup that appears to be sharing a
bigger piece of the pie fuels the rise of the
radical right.
The overt despise of the outgroupis
facilitated by the lack of a civil rights
movement in Europe that aimed at
protecting and integrating minorities. The
most famous period of social unrest, the
May 1968 events in Paris, aimed at
protesting capitalism and consumerism, and
not at promoting equal rights for the weaker
members of a society. In the US the far
right consists of fringe members that are
often classified as hate groups. In Europe,
one often sees racist scenes at football
matches with bananas thrown at black
players, racial slurs directed at black
politicians and religious freedoms curtailed,
without serious opposition. The members
are not from the fringes of society but often
from mainstream groups that have adopted
a nationalistic and/or racist agenda as a
means of uniting themselves into a powerful
ingroup. Racist ideologies and proposals of
extreme political solutions appear as a

natural outcome of the friction between


ingroups and outgroups, a friction
exacerbated by increasing unemployment,
economic woes and indignation against a
welfare state that benefits the weaker
members.
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