Just How Dangerous Is Europe’s Rising Far Right?

Jordan Bardella, 28, is the new face of the far right in France. Measured, clean-cut and raised in the hardscrabble northern suburbs of Paris, he laces his speeches with references to Victor Hugo and believes that “no country succeeds by denying or being ashamed of itself.”

That phrase, at a recent rally in the eastern town of Montbéliard, brought a chorus of “Jordan! Jordan!” from a crowd that had lined up for hours to see him. Cries of “Patrie” — homeland — filled the hall. Bardellamania is in the air.

Mr. Bardella, the son of Italian immigrants and a college dropout who joined the National Front party (now National Rally) at 16, is the protégé of Marine Le Pen, the perennial hard-right French presidential candidate. Moderate in tone if not content, he is also the personification of the normalization — or banalization — of a party once seen as a quasi-fascist threat to the Republic.

Across Europe, the far right is becoming the right, absent any compelling message from traditional conservative parties. If “far” suggests outlier, it has become a misnomer. Not only have the parties of an anti-immigrant right surged, they have seen the barriers that once kept them out crumble as they are absorbed into the arc of Western democracies.

In Italy, Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, who has political roots in a neo-fascist party, now leads Italy’s most right-wing government since Mussolini. In Sweden, the center-right government depends on the fast-growing Sweden Democrats, another party with neo-Nazi origins, for its parliamentary majority. In the Netherlands, Geert Wilders, who has called Moroccan immigrants “scum,” won national elections in November at the head of his Party for Freedom, and center-right parties there have agreed to negotiate with him to form a governing coalition.

In France, Mr. Bardella, as president of the National Rally, is leading his party’s campaign for the elections in June to the European Parliament, a relatively powerless institution, but one still important for being the only directly elected body with representatives from all European Union countries.

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