Parties like France’s National Front and the Party for Freedom in the Netherlands aren’t merely Euroskeptics — they are Euro-enemies that oppose the very ideals that undergird a unified Europe. Ranging from nationalist to openly fascist, these parties receive relatively little public support. But in countries like Hungary and Greece, they have exploited economic distress and anti-immigrant animus to become influential, and not only at the national level. In elections in May, 59 far-right candidates from 14 countries won seats in the European Parliament. Ruling parties in many of these countries have been negligent at best in opposing extremists. At worst, they have indulged and empowered them.
Ruling politicians and parties should also actively oppose with both rhetoric and actions the resentments on which far-right parties feed, from Islamophobia to anti-Semitism to anti-immigrant animus. Perhaps most daunting of all, European governments must improve the dismal economic conditions that make far-right parties appealing to the disaffected. But few, if any, European governments have these capabilities. And those that do seem to be losing their resolve.