From racism to misogyny and anti-LGBT rhetoric, the use of far-right talking points by mainstream politicians and public figures has become increasingly commonplace in the Western Balkans in recent years, an analysis by BIRN’s team of experts shows. Hate-filled comments about migrants, Roma people and the LGBT community. Praise for authoritarian regimes like Vladimir Putin’s Russia. Misogynistic and sexist abuse. Conspiracy theories about George Soros, Covid vaccines and the so-called ‘Great Replacement Theory’, a far-right notion that there is a plot to supplant white European Christians with Muslims and non-white immigrants. These are just some of the narratives often used by right-wing extremists that have also entered mainstream discourse in the Western Balkans in recent years. BIRN’s analysis of the situation in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia shows how mainstream politicians and other prominent public figures have used talking points that sound like they come from the far right, even though they may not be right-wing extremists themselves. Indeed, some of those who have used such talking points claim to be on the left of politics. These narratives have regularly been amplified by social media and, in some countries, by mainstream media outlets with links to government, often to the point where extreme viewpoints can seem unremarkable to the general public. (…) Misogyny and sexism have long been a problem in the public arena in the Balkans, but they have been amplified by social media, with the risk of making misogynistic rhetoric more acceptable in wider social and political circles. Coinciding with an increase in online attacks on women and girls and the deadly problem of femicides across the region, the exploitation of misogynistic and anti-feminist ideas by right-wingers serves to encourage violent attacks in the real world too. Other factors have also fuelled hate speech, like the issue of migrants and refugees on the so-called Balkan Route to Western Europe, which has attracted racist rhetoric, or Russia’s war against Ukraine, which has been supported by Balkan admirers of authoritarian rulers like Vladimir Putin.

via balkna insight: Normalising Extremism: How Far-Right Narratives Spread in the Balkans