Capitalising on the COVID-19 Pandemic

What the Far-Right Will Do in the Next Stage of the Crisis

14 December 2020

Asya Metodieva

Visegrad Insight Fellow

The economic and social impact of COVID-19 creates space for alienating wider demographics that far-right movements may target for recruitment. Yet, their strategy and narratives may depend on whether they are in or out of power.

Like in other parts of Europe, the COVID-19 pandemic has become central to attempts of far-right groups to become more visible in Central Europe. Extremist actors have a long history of expanding their influence in crises.

The way the far-right has capitalised on the current crisis is by pushing conspiracy theories, often targeting different ethnic and minority groups. Forms of activism further include anti-mask and anti-lockdown events.

In the next stage of the crisis, it will matter whether the voices of the far-right are present in the governments of Central Europe or not. Three topics related to COVID-19 may fuel right-wing rhetoric in the region in 2021: vaccines, migration, and economy. Whether right-wing parties and movements can successfully adopt and diffuse narratives depends on whether they are in or out of power.

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Asya Metodieva

Visegrad Insight Fellow

Visegrad Insight Fellow. Asya Metodieva is a researcher at the Institute of International Relations Prague. She successfully defended her PhD at the Central European University (CEU), Vienna. Her research focuses on radical movements, polarization and information warfare with a focus on the Balkans and more generally Southeast Europe. She holds an MA in Public Policy from CEU and in International Relations and Security Studies from Sofia University St. Kliment Ohridski. In 2019 she was a visiting PhD Candidate at the University of Oxford. She held the 2018 Sotirov Fellowship at LSE IDEAS and 2018 Re-think CEE Fellowship of the German Marshall Fund of the United States.

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