Karlsruhe Dialogues 2009

Right-Wing Extremism in Europe today

Prof. Dr. Marc Swyngedouw



Prof. Dr. Marc Swyngedouw was born in 1956. In the year 1989 he received his Ph.D. in social sciences at the University of Leuven/Belgium, where today he is full professor in political sociology and methodology. He is the chair of the Centre for Sociological Research (CESO) at the faculty of Social Sciences and the director of the Institute of Social and Political Opinion research (ISPO). Together with the Catholic University of Brussels’ Institute of Political Sociology and Methodology (IPSoM) he founded in 1990 the advanced master program “Quantitative Analysis in the Social Sciences”.

In addition, he founded the analytical exit polls for the federal and local elections in Flanders. He is doing research on quantitative and qualitative methodology, ethnic minorities, political sociology, extreme right and populist parties, comparative research methodology and public opinion. Since 1991, Swyngedouw is the principal investigator for the Belgian National Election studies.

Furthermore, he is a member of the Comparative Study of Electoral Systems (CSES) group and participates in the European Election Studies as well as in different European comparative research efforts (ESF, EU-MC-6eFrame) on ethnic minorities and on European Integration (for example TIES, Intune). A number of universities and research centres have invited him as guest professor or research fellow, such as the Gallup Research Center at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln/USA and the Centre d’Étude de la Vie Politique Française in Paris.

He published articles and reviews in different international journals like Quantity and Quality, West-European Politics, Electoral Studies, Revue Internationale de Politique Comparée, Revue Française de Science Politique, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, European Sociological Review, Ethnicities, and others. Swyngedouw participated in numerous edited books, such as “Rechtsextremismus in populistischer Gestalt” (2006), “The extreme right in Belgium” (2007) and “Euroscepticism in Belgium” (2007).

In addition, he is member of the editorial board of the journal Political Analysis, which is published by the Society for Political Methodology of the American Political Science Association.

ZAK asked Prof. Dr. Marc Swyngedouw to answer the following question:

What can citizens do Against Right-Wing Extremism? 

"Fighting right-wing extremism is acting on the sources of such behavior. Most of us do not have executive power and cannot change fundamental things in society. However, I believe that all of us can have an important (small - scale) influence in different ways on the sources of right-wing extremism. Based on what I think are the sources of right-wing extremism, I put the next 9 propositions to fight right-wing extremism up for discussion.

1. Do not accept everyday racism.
2. Fight the idea of the “clash of civilisations” as the overarching conflict line these days.
3. Do not accept expressions of ethnocentric feelings.
4. Resist authoritarian inspired ideas in raising children, education and governance. Stimulate a critical but open and positive worldview.
5. Stimulate social life in your neighbourhood. That way you lower distrust in other people.
6. Organise meetings of all kinds between members of ethnic minorities and the native majority.
7. Help disadvantaged children succeed in school.
8. Make clear to young mothers and fathers that it’s extremely important that their toddlers go to the kindergarten to learn the dominant native language (beside their mother language) and to learn small but important things that are helpful when starting primary school.
9. Organise neighbourhood schools for toddlers and children in such a way that there are no more schools with ethnic minorities only. "