“They may think they have nowhere else to express their displeasure,” he said.
The right is having a resurgence across Europe. This week, the Brotherhood of Italy party won the largest share of the vote in the Italian elections. And in Sweden, a group formed by neo-fascists and skinheads looks set to become the biggest party in the next government.
In Germany, the far-right Alternative to Germany, known by its German acronym AfD, has rallied around 15% in public polls and is planning protests in Berlin in September. next.
“People aren’t even using heating yet – it’s still going to happen,” said Mr. Quent. “And, however, the AfD has had a marked rise. This is indeed the prospect that I feared.”
During the protest in Prague, many participants protested against the idea of being called the fringe or far right.
“It’s not just energy prices that go up – so are grocery prices. I am raising my niece, and I am very worried,” said Miroslav Kusmirek, who came from a town 30 miles from the capital to protest on a rainy afternoon. “I see companies struggling right now and I’m worried; If the company that employed me collapses, so do I.”
As he spoke, an on-stage speaker from Germany’s AfD, Christine Anderson, shouted to loud cheers, “You don’t live in a democracy anymore!”
For energy experts, the populist movement adds another knot in the tangle of problems Europe is grappling with. In addition to the Russian gas cuts, French nuclear plants are already operating at half capacity as maintenance problems and severe drought have hampered Germany’s ability to import coal over the summer.