Fellow travellers: Russia, anti-Westernism, and Europe’s political parties

There is a large amount of ideological overlap between some European political parties and the Russian government. Significantly, these include parties considered to be ‘mainstream’ – it is not just ‘fringe’ parties that share elements of the Kremlin’s world-view.

European political parties range from those that are ‘hardcore’ in their ‘anti-Westernism’ to those that are fully pro-Western. The former are much more open to cooperation with Russia and are generally aligned with its priorities.

Strong election showings from anti-Western parties can change the character of entire national political systems. Most countries are ‘resilient’ to ‘anti-Western’ politics, but a large minority are favourable towards Russian standpoints. Important players like France and Italy form part of the ‘Malleable Middle’ group of countries which Moscow may seek to cultivate.

The populist, anti-Western revolt of the last decade did not originate in Russia. But it is yet to run its course, and Western politicians should act now to prevent Russia taking further advantage of it.

To continue reading, please visit the website of the European Council on Foreign Relations.



Gustav Gressel of the ECFR

Dr. Gustav Gressel is a Senior Policy Fellow on the Wider Europe Programme at the ECFR Berlin Office. Before joining the ECFR he worked as desk officer for international security policy and strategy in the Bureau for Security Policy in the Austrian Ministry of Defence from 2006 to 2014 and as a research fellow of the Commissioner for Strategic Studies in the Austrian MoD from 2003 to 2006. He also was committed as research fellow in the International Institute for Liberal Politics in Vienna. Before his academic career he served five years in the Austrian Armed Forces. Gustav earned a PhD in Strategic Studies at the Faculty of Military Sciences at the National University of Public Service, Budapest and a Master Degree in political science at Salzburg University.