On November 5, 2015, the PRIO Cyprus Centre, the Friedrich-Ebert-Foundation in Cyprus and the Cyprus Association of Political Science co-organized a conference inviting international experts to elaborate on historical and contemporary perspectives of the "European Far Right".

Giorgos Charalambous (PRIO Cyprus Centre) set out the goals for this conference, the main one being to discuss different conceptions of extremism, populism and far right movements across Europe.

Following the introduction, Aristotle Kallis (University of Lancaster) elaborated on 'the thin red line' between radical right and the 'mainstream'. Inter alia he concluded: "We are trying to exceptionalise extremism (…). But radical perspectives are at the heart of mainstream views."

The first panel, "Case Studies from Southern Europe" was initiated by Daphne Halikiopoulous' (University of Reading) explanation of the rise of the Golden Dawn in Greece. Based on her recent book "The Golden Dawn's 'nationalist solution': explaining the rise of the far right in Greece", Daphne retraced the history and breakthrough of the Golden Dawn, attributing the success of this 'fascist' movement to the political and economic crisis in Greece. "The Greek people questioned the ability of the government to provide solutions." To conclude her presentation, Daphne proposed four long-term, policy solutions: Empowerment of the middle class, reformation of the welfare system, strengthening of civil society institutions and educational reform.

Subsequently, Andrea Mammone (Royal Holloway) elaborated on the state of affairs concerning the Lega Nord and other far right movements in Italy. Andrea depicted impressively the rise of the party to national significance and the recent March on Rome by European neo-fascists.

To conclude the first panel, Giorgos Charalambous presented his ongoing research on far-right populism in the Case of Cyprus. As a "fundamentally populist" party, E.LA.M is shifting a lot of blame to the government and the "national enemy, Turkey or the Turkish Cypriots". It also speaks frequently of crisis – and especially a national and an economic crisis – and conceives itself in an exclusive fashion with respect to various identified social and political groups. Giorgos summarized: "The Cypriot far right is fundamentally populist but in a particular fashion, which reflects a situation of ethnic conflict on the island and a country experiencing an economic and political crisis."

Later the focus shifted to the northern parts of Europe. The second panel was introduced by Aurlién Mondon (University of Bath), giving an overview on the rise of Front National in France. Presenting itself as the secular, populist and anti-Islamic party, Front National became a recognizable force in France and was able to reach the public mainstream. Aurlién identified "a crisis of our political system: very few voters are turning to middle ground parties."

From France the panel moved on to Hungary. Krisztian Szabados (Political Capital Institute) elaborated on Jobbik's recent success as a party by now mainstream. After a short introduction to the party's recent history, Krisztian suggested four lessons learned from the Jobbik case: Democratic institutions didn't try to prevent Jobbik's rise; left wing parties have to offer attractive alternatives for the working class; stigmatization didn't work; established parties and the media used Jobbik's language and therefore made it mainstream.

Lastly, Andreas Kemper (University of Muenster) gave an overview of the "new right in Germany" and the increasing radicalization of German far right discourses.

All-in-all, it has been a very insightful conference on a pressing issue. We want to thank all participants, especially the guest speakers, for presenting a comprehensive overview on the concepts and cases of European far right movements. A PRIO-FES report, based on the conference and covering seven European countries (the above plus the case of UKIP in the UK), will be published in the following months.