Voting for a new European parliament draws to a close this Sunday. The buildup to the elections has been dominated by one narrative: the seeming ascendance of a slew of far-right, Euroskeptic parties across the continent. The European fringe has jolted its stodgy mainstream, as my colleague Griffe Witte writes here. The offensive and, at times, racist comments made by some of these party leaders and ranking politicians have certainly added to their notoriety. Here are some recent disgraceful examples:
--"Monseigneur Ebola could sort that out in three months," Jean Marie Le Pen, founder of the French far-right National Front party, suggesting this month that the deadly Ebola virus could deal with a growing global population -- and, therefore, Europe's supposed immigration problem. His daughter and current National Front leader, Marine Le Pen, has tried to move away from her father's overt extremism and had to scramble awkwardly to dampen reaction to his latest comments.
--"Do you want more or less Moroccans in this city and this country?" [chants of "Less! Less!"] "We'll arrange for that."--Geert Wilders, well-coiffed leader of the Netherlands' Freedom Party, a far-right Islamophobic group, addressing a group of supporters at a rally in March. Revulsion at these menacing remarks hurt Wilders, whose party appears to have performed worse than expected in the polls.
--“And how we can possibly be giving a billion pounds a month, when we are in this sort of debt, to Bongo Bongo Land is completely beyond me,” Godfrey Bloom, a member of the European Parliament (MEP) from the U.K. Independence Party, complaining about Britain's foreign aid commitments last year. The backlash against his comments eventually led to his resignation from UKIP.
--"The scriptures make it abundantly clear that a Christian nation that abandons its faith and acts contrary to the Gospel (and in naked breach of a coronation oath) will be beset by natural disasters such as storms, disease, pestilence and war," David Silvester, UKIP councilor, writing in a letter to his town's newspaper that floods that ravaged parts of the U.K. in early January were the consequence of the country's acceptance of gay marriage.
--"This is the government of Bonga Bonga," Mario Borghezio, Italian MEP from the Lega Nord, a right-wing, anti-immigrant party, decrying the appointment of a minister of Congolese descent to the Italian Cabinet last year. "Africa hasn't produced great geniuses as anyone can see from a Mickey Mouse encyclopaedia," he added. Criticism of these remarks forced Borghezio out of his particular far-right bloc in the European Parliament.
--"What will happen to Europe, a conglomerate of negroes, total chaos," Andreas Molzer, a prominent MEP from Austria's far-right Freedom Party, warning against immigration in an interview with a German newspaper in March. Outrage over the statement compelled Molzer to pull out of his electoral race. His party leader, Hans-Christian Strache, says he himself is not a racist because he "eats kebabs."
--"At least hands that greet like this did not steal," Nikolaos Michaloliakos, leader of Greece's far-right Golden Dawn, defending the penchant of some of his xenophobic party members to make Nazi salutes. Michaloliakos happens to be in jail right now on charges of being involved in a criminal organization, but his party may win seats in Brussels.
--"[It is] timely to tally up people of Jewish ancestry who live here, especially in the Hungarian Parliament and the Hungarian government, who, indeed, pose a national security risk to Hungary," Marton Gyongyosi, a senior leader of Jobbik, a far-right Hungarian party with fascist origins, calling for a tally of Jews in the country in 2012. Jobbik, whose members have also violently targeted Hungary's Roma minority, is currently the country's third most powerful political party.