Threat posed to democracy by extremist parties and movements in Europe
- Parliamentary Assembly
- Assembly debate on 25 January 2000 (2nd Sitting) (see Doc. 8607, report of the Political Affairs Committee, rapporteur: Mr Gjellerod). Text adopted by the Assembly on25 January 2000 (2nd Sitting).
1. In several member states, extremist parties
and movements are propagating and defending ideologies that are incompatible
with democracy and human rights.
2. These extremist movements and
parties pose a threat to the fundamental values that the Council of Europe sets
out to defend.
3. Currently the extremist movements and parties that
pose one of the greatest threats to democracy in member states are those of the
far right and, more generally, those that encourage intolerance, xenophobia and
racism. Even if they do not directly advocate violence, they nevertheless
create a climate that encourages its development.
4. The growing
support in some countries for these extremist parties and movements is
5. The Assembly also emphasises that the
violence employed by certain extreme left-wing movements in the name of
combating the far right is unacceptable.
6. The Assembly, which has a
particular responsibility for protecting European democratic values, must show
the lead in the search for appropriate political and legal responses,
especially at the preventive stage and as this type of phenomenon starts to
emerge, not forgetting the necessary responses regarding young people's
education and public information in order to keep alive the memory of acts and
events as they really happened.
7. At national level, the political
response should be aimed at depriving extremist parties of their electoral
support by addressing the social and economic issues, such as unemployment,
immigration and security that these parties capitalise on, and by developing
policies of education for democratic citizenship based on citizens' rights and
responsibilities . Moreover, measures against the abuse of asylum and illegal
immigration linked to organised crime should be implemented more efficiently by
the governments in order to reduce xenophobic feelings.
8. To answer
the populist and over-simplified statements of these extremist parties and
movements, it is necessary to re-establish the facts associated with the issues
posed by immigration, reformulate poorly expressed problems in a more relevant
fashion and refute illogical claims through logical argument.
9. Legislation should be enacted - where it does not exist - to prohibit
oral or written instigation to racism, anti-Semitism and xenophobia; freedom of
expression cannot be accepted as an excuse for it. Existing legislation should
be fully implemented. In this context, public denial of the Holocaust should be
regarded as an expression of anti-Semitism. Using the Internet for racist
purposes should be made a criminal offence.
10. Given the international
dimension of extremist movements and networks of a racist or xenophobic
character, co-operation between the competent authorities and police forces in
Council of Europe member states should be increased.
11. The Assembly
calls on its members to ensure that the parties they belong to base their
programmes and action on respect for fundamental rights and freedoms, democracy
and the rule of law, together with respect for the rights of national
minorities, and refuse any support for extremist parties of a racist or
xenophobic character, whether explicit or implicit, and hence also any alliance
whatsoever with their elected representatives in order to form majorities
wielding political power.
12. The Assembly attaches great importance to
the work of the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI), an
independent group of experts, which, inter alia, publishes country reports
containing specific proposals. These proposals should also be taken up by
13. The Assembly resolves to co-operate
effectively with the ECRI and hold regular debates on its activities.
14. The Assembly encourages the ECRI to identify political responses to the
worrying phenomenon of the growth of extremist parties and movements from the
moment they appear and begin their anti-democratic activities.
Assembly also expresses its readiness to participate fully in the European
Conference against Racism, which will take place in Strasbourg from 11 to 13
The Assembly recommends that the Committee of
16.1 fully support the work of the
ECRI and ensure that member states give a concrete follow-up to its
16.2 instruct the ECRI to carry out an urgent
in-depth examination of the curriculum in primary and secondary schools and of
school textbooks, so as to bring to light any expressions of xenophobia or
mystification of history that lead to hatred of other ethnic communities or
social, political or religious groups;
16.3 ask member states to
inform it of the specific follow-up given to the recommendations of the ECRI,
including legislation passed, as well as of measures taken to combat public
expressions of intolerance, xenophobia and racism;
as a matter of priority, the issue of combating the dissemination of racist
material via the Internet, coming both from the far right and from the far
left, through the drawing up of an international legal instrument;
16.5 discuss problems of discrimination and extremism in the framework of
its monitoring procedures as a priority