Karlsruhe Dialogues 2009

Right-Wing Extremism in Europe today

Prof. Dr. Jean-Yves Camus



Prof. Dr. Jean-Yves Camus was born in 1958 and is a French political scientist and an expert in right-wing extremism. He graduated at the l’Institut d’Études Politiques in Paris, in addition, he has a degree in political science from the University of Paris-Sorbonne as well as in contemporary history from l’École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (EHESS). He was research director at the Centre Européen de Recherches et d’Études sur le Racisme et l’Antisémitisme (CERA) and worked for several French journals such as the weekly journal L’Evénement du Jeudi, which deals with cultural topics.

Today, Camus does research at the Institut De Relations Internationales Et Strategiques (IRIS) in Paris. He is a member of the European Consortium on Political Research and of the Task Force on anti-Semitism of the European Jewish Congress.

He amongst others is concerned with the French right-wing extremist party Front National, which has suffered a political defeat in the communal elections in 2008. In an interview with the internet-portal “Mut gegen rechte Gewalt” (Courage Against Right-Wing Extremist Violence), Camus describes the voters of Front National as mostly male and racist, but he distinguishes between two types of voters: While one part comes from the middle-class and originates from the national right-wing, die other part is found among the working class and is socially disadvantaged.

In the same interview, Camus compares the handling of right-wing-extremism in Germany and France: In Germany, the will to control political right-wing extremism – which is a political category in Germany, but not in France – is a result of history. But there is not the same experience with history in France. There, people think, that France is immunised.

Camus has written a number of books and articles about right-wing extremism. He published “Le Front National: état des forces en perspective” in 2004 and “Extrêmismes en France: faut-il en avoir peur?” in 2006.

ZAK asked Prof. Dr. Jean-Yves Camus to answer the following question:

What Can Citizens do Against Right-Wing Extremism? 

"The rise of the extreme-right in Western Europe is the result of the dissatisfaction of many voters with the aloofness of the political elite and the actions of the existing parties. As a result, those citizens stop voting altogether or chose to cast their vote for the populist movements, which are stronger when the turnout is low at the polls. Therefore, the most efficient way of countering right-wing extremism is perhaps for the citizens to go to the polls and participate in communal activities. "