The recent rise in membership of far-right (even neo-Nazi) political parties across the EU has much to do with its policy of taking, but never ceding, powers that advance the cause of a unitary state. The Schengen open borders agreement has facilitated an uncontrollable spread of illegal immigrants from the Middle East and Africa. Pragmatism would suggest at least a suspension of open borders but this is inimical to official ideology. So:
Italy, Greece, France and Holland have all seen big rises in right-wing parties with dubious policies;
- In Austria’s presidential election the leader of its neo-Nazi Freedom Party comfortably won the first round (32% against its nearest rival on 22%)
- Tolerant Sweden has a similar phenomenon (January 2016 polls show Swedish Democrats on 29%, from under 2% a decade ago);
Alternative For Germany is now adopting an explicitly anti-Islam agenda (from 4.7% of the federal vote in 2013 it registered 12% in recent opinion polls and reached 24% in Saxony’s recent state election).
All these parties are currently minorities but no longer insubstantial. We cannot say that Schengen is the only reason they have grown since terrorism and other dissatisfactions with the EU or national governments play their part. Nevertheless, statements by party members and leaders make it clear that practical steps are needed quickly to avoid clear dangers we don’t need to spell out.