Right-Wing Terrorism and Violence in Western Europe, 1990 - 2020

RTV Trend Report 2021 (pdf)

Jacob Aasland Ravndal, Madeleine Thorstensen, Anders Ravik Jupskås and Graham Macklin

The year 2020 was extraordinary with regards to the number of unsettling events with a potential impact on right-wing terrorism and violence (RTV). The COVID-19 pandemic generated conspiracy theories, economic crisis, and growing animosity toward European governments, fuelling far-right grievances. Controversy concerning the 2021 US presidential election caused unrest and revolutionary aspirations among far-right actors. And the US police murder of George Floyd generated new waves of Black Lives Matter protests across the world, at times confronted by violent counter-protesters from the far right. To what extent did these events affect right-wing terrorism and violence in Western Europe?

In this RTV Trend Report, which is the third of its kind, we present new and updated data on severe right-wing attacks and plots that occurred in Western Europe in 2020. We also compare these data with previous years to identify new developments and capture trends. Our review identifies three key insights. First, relatively few severe attacks motivated by discontent or conspiracies relating to COVID-19 were registered, and most of these attacks were spontaneous and committed by groups of youths. Second, attacks targeting black people appear to become more frequent in Western Europe, as are registered attacks committed by uniformed personnel on active duty. Finally, while 2020 only saw two attacks with a fatal outcome, the number of attack plots rose considerably.

Besides describing these developments in more detail, this year’s RTV Trend Report also introduces several additions to the dataset, including two new perpetrator categories, a more structured and systematic perpetrator coding scheme, and a dataset with all the reviewed cases that were not included in the final version.

Published Feb. 23, 2022 1:44 PM - Last modified Feb. 23, 2022 1:44 PM