New poll results show that the far-right British political party UKIP is gaining significant support among British voters. That is worrying enough on its own, but when viewed in the context of the rise of far-right parties throughout Europe, it's even more disturbing.
The rise and rise of UKIP
In a recent poll, approximately one of every seven British voters said that they intend to vote UKIP in the next election. To put that into context, UKIP is far enough to the right that it spends considerable time defending itself against accusations of actual fascism. UKIP's leadership did not help their case when they demanded the mass arrest of protesters who accused them of being fascists.
The party is known for its extreme anti-immigrant rhetoric, its opposition to the European Union, and its tendency to field political candidates with genuinely disturbing views.
For instance, Gordon Ferguson, a UKIP candidate last year for a ward in Southport, Lancashire, argued that candidates from the UK's three main parties, and the people who voted for them, all ought to be hung for treason. Lest anyone mistake that for hyperbole, he went on to explain that the main barrier to accomplishing this punishment was that "our senior police, Crown Prosecution Service and judges are almost all exclusively freemasons."
Abhijit Pandya, a UKIP candidate for a seat in Leicester South, called Islam "morally flawed and degenerate" and a "retarded ideology."
And Anne-Marie Crampton, a candidate in East Sussex, wrote that "The Second World Wide War was engineered by the Zionist jews and financed by the bankers to make the general public all over the world to feel so guilty and outraged by the Holocaust that a treaty would be signed to create the State of Israel as we know it today."
This is not just a problem of a few odd nutjobs who made it into the party. For one thing, UKIP leader Nigel Farage has himself told the Guardian that he believes there is a culture of criminality among Romanian immigrants and that British people should therefore be worried about Romanian families moving into their neighborhoods.
For another, anti-immigrant scaremongering has also made it into UKIP campaign materials. The party distributed a flyer during a recent election which warned that "next year, the EU will allow more than 29 million Bulgarians and Romanians to come to the UK" — a surprising figure, given that the combined populations of both countries total only about 27.3 million people.
So if 14 percent of the British electorate plan to support UKIP in the next election, that seems like cause for major concern.
The rise of far-right parties across Europe
The rise in support for UKIP mirrors the rise of the far right across Europe. Right-wing parties captured a large chunk of the vote in the most recent European Parliament elections last June, as shown in the chart above.
They've succeeded in recent national elections as well. Hungary's neo-fascist Jobbik party, which is known for its virulent and overt anti-semitism, won over 20 percent of the vote in the 2014 national elections. Austria's right-wing nationalist Freedom Party won 20.5 percent of the vote in the 2013 elections. Greece's Golden Dawn party, known for its "soup kitchens of hate" and violent attacks on immigrants, remains the third most popular party in Greek opinion polls, even though all of its parliamentary deputies are currently awaiting trial on criminal conspiracy charges. So this trend is bigger than the UK, and it's bigger than the UKIP.