Inspired by the tens of thousands that have ‘liked’ far-right political groups such as France’s National Front party online, a new study published Monday examined who exactly are the supporters of Europe’s increasingly popular nationalist factions.
When Marine Le Pen, head of France’s far-right Front National party, posted a wall photo of herself on her official Facebook page last week, 417 people jumped to ‘like’ it, 30 people ‘shared’ it, and 95 people left comments, one of which read “President Marine” with a heart shaped emoticon next to it.
Inspired by the type of endorsements exhibited on Le Pen’s Facebook page, British think tank Demos conducted the first-ever large-scale quantitative study of who exactly comprises Europe’s increasingly popular far-right political factions. Published on Monday, the report found that the far-right’s growing support base is young and online.
Even though the study looked at samples from several countries across the continent, the report could have particular significance for France, which is set to hold presidential elections in May.
“It signifies a change in the nature of politics – that people, particularly young people, relate to politics in different ways. Formal membership will never go away, but what is happening is that these online groups represent another layer of support that can be used for electoral success”, Birdwell pointed out.
Possible implications for French presidential elections
This could mean that traditional means of gauging political trends, such as opinion and exit polls, have underestimated just how many people support the far-right in different countries across Europe.
Far-right shaping national agendas
*Counties included in the study: France, United Kingdom, Italy, Denmark, Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Norway, Finland, Sweden and Belgium.
Date created : 2011-11-08