The European crypto scene has gained significant traction over the past few years, as the interest in and adoption of cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology has grown. Though decentralization, innovation and financial freedom are often associated with the crypto industry, it is still subject to various political ideologies and influences, including right-wing movements.
Right-wing ideologies typically prioritize individual freedoms and limited government intervention, which can draw them to the decentralized nature of cryptocurrencies. This allows individuals to have control over their money without relying on traditional financial systems or government regulations. Moreover, Bitcoin (BTC) emerged in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, which led many to lose trust in traditional financial institutions. This, combined with a desire to challenge the existing financial establishment and its perceived biases or control, makes cryptocurrencies an attractive option for right-wing politicians in Europe.
One example is the German right-wing populist political party Alternative for Germany (AfD). Although there is no official or clear strategy within the anti-euro party regarding cryptocurrencies, some of its members have expressed their positive attitude toward Bitcoin, such as AfD leader Alice Weidel. She has attended several Bitcoin conferences, called herself a “Bitcoin entrepreneur” and wanted to launch a Bitcoin startup. Additionally, the AfD has submitted “Kleine Anfragen” (literally, “small requests”) to the government on multiple occasions, such as one about crypto donations for Ukraine and another to oppose a proposed Bitcoin ban.
The concept of cryptocurrency has been linked to the right-wing — and, in part, radical — positions of the AfD. Digital studies professor David Golumbia warned that blockchain could be hijacked by right-wing and libertarian groups, as it could be the realization of their vision of a world without government control.
Other right-wing politicians have shown interest in Bitcoin and blockchain technology as potential disruptors of traditional financial systems. This includes Dutch right-wing party leaders Geert Wilders and Thierry Baudet, as well as Polish politician Jaroslaw Gowin and his center-right party Agreement, formerly known as Poland Together. British right-wing former leader of the pro-Brexit UK Independence Party Nigel Farage has also commented on the potential of Bitcoin adoption in Europe, saying, “What happens in America first happens here [in Europe], too.”
Right-wing extremist movements have also started to utilize crypto payments. According to the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), ultranationalists and European extremist groups have been accepting BTC as donations since 2012. They use it not only for convenience, but also because it allows them to access funds that can’t be seized by anyone.
Does this indicate that crypto in Europe is a right-wing thing? Not necessarily. While crypto itself is not inherently Right or Left, it is not without ideology, and support for cryptocurrencies among politicians is not limited to those leaning toward the Right. For instance, the German liberal, pro-free market Free Democratic Party also advocates for a friendly policy toward cryptocurrencies.
MEMRI noted that it is important to address the concerns of right-wing influence within the crypto community, and to foster education, implement regulations and ensure that the crypto space remains inclusive, transparent and aligned with democratic principles. Social media platforms and online communities should take proactive steps to curb hate speech, misinformation and extremist content, and to promote healthy, constructive dialogue.