Dutch PM sees off far-right challenge: A panorama of the far-right in Europe

Mark Rutte, Dutch prime minister and leader of the Liberal Party (VVD), waves to supporters in The Hague, Netherlands, on Wednesday, March 15, 2017.
Mark Rutte, Dutch prime minister and leader of the Liberal Party (VVD), waves to supporters in The Hague, Netherlands, on Wednesday, March 15, 2017.PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

PARIS (AFP) - EU leaders lined up on Thursday (March 16) to congratulate Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte on beating far-rightist Geert Wilders in the first of a series of European elections this year in which populist insurgent parties are hoping to rock the establishment.

Following is a snapshot of far-right parties in major European countries, most of which have gained ground on a wave of populism stemming from Europe's migration crisis.

- Netherlands: Freedom Party -

The anti-Islam Freedom Party (PVV) of Geert Wilders has benefitted from the migration crisis that began in early 2015, though it fell short of forecast results in Wednesday's general election.

The PVV nonetheless added five seats for a total of 20 in the 150-member parliament, putting it second behind Prime Minister Mark Rutte's Liberal VVD party with 33 seats.

Wilders, whose party was created in 2006, pledged to confiscate Qurans, close mosques and Islamic schools, and ban migrants from Islamic countries.

- France: National Front -

Established in 1972, the National Front (FN) is led by Marine Le Pen, who succeeded her firebrand father and party co-founder, Jean-Marie Le Pen.

Capitalising on stubborn unemployment, migration fears and jihadist attacks, Le Pen is a leading candidate in the upcoming presidential election and vows to abandon the euro and reinstate the nation's borders if she wins.

Polls currently suggest she will qualify for a second-round run-off vote in May but then lose to centrist Emmanuel Macron.

The FN has two seats in each of the upper and lower houses of parliament.

- Hungary: Jobbik -

The Movement for a Better Hungary, known as Jobbik is ultra-nationalist and eurosceptic and has been accused of attacks against Roma people as well as anti-Semitism.

Created in 2003, it is led by Gabor Vona and occupies only 24 of the parliament's 199 seats, but is nonetheless the second largest party in the legislature.

Jobbik, however, has been outflanked by Prime Minister Viktor Orban's hardline anti-immigration stance, and it is moving towards a more centrist position.

- Austria: FPOe -

The Freedom Party of Austria (FPOe) was founded by former Nazis in 1956, but only veered emphatically to the far right in the 1980s.

A eurosceptic and anti-immigrant party, it is led by Heinz-Christian Strache and has 38 deputies in the 183-seat national parliament.

FPOe candidate Norbert Hofer narrowly missed becoming the EU's first far-right head of state after losing a runoff election on Dec 4 last year.

- Germany: AfD -

The anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany (AfD) seeks to become the first hardline far-right party in the Bundestag since 1945, at the Sept 24 general elections.

The AfD was founded as a small fringe party in 2013, at the height of the eurozone crisis, to oppose bailouts for indebted economies like Greece and to demand the reintroduction of the deutschmark.

Following a leadership coup launched by co-leader Frauke Petry, it took a more strident anti-immigration position, calling for closing borders, restricting Islamic practices and fighting the ruling "oligarchy".

- Britain: UKIP -

While not considered a far-right party, the anti-EU and anti-immigrant UK Independence Party (UKIP) is in its own way on the far end of the political spectrum.

Under Nigel Farage, UKIP was a driving force behind Britain's vote to leave the European Union, and in 2015 general elections it became the country's third political force, though it has just one MP. It is now headed by Paul Nuttall.

- Italy: Northern League -

The Northern League is a "regionalist" formation that evolved into an anti-euro and anti-immigrant party after Matteo Salvini took the reins in early 2014. It secured 18 seats in 2013 parliamentary elections.

- Belgium: Vlaams Belang -

Vlaams Belang (VB or Flemish Interest) advocates the secession of Flemish-speaking Flanders from the rest of Belgium.

It is currently in decline, holding just three of the 150 seats in parliament since legislative and federal elections in June 2014, having been sidelined by the nationalist New Flemish Alliance.

- Greece: Golden Dawn -

The neo-Nazi Golden Dawn of Nikos Michaloliakos finished third in September 2015 elections, with 6.99 per cent of the vote and 18 MPs. One later defected and the party is now the fourth biggest in parliament.

Thirteen of its MPs face charges of belonging to a criminal organisation linked to the fatal stabbing of a rapper in 2013.

- Sweden: Sweden Democrats -

The Sweden Democrats party made a breakthrough in September 2014 to become the country's third biggest party with 48 of 349 seats in the Riksdag, and 12.9 per cent of the vote.

Created in 1998 and headed by Jimmie Akesson, the party has begun to soften its tone a bit to broaden its base. In December it kicked out an MP for anti-Semitic remarks.