The European crypto scene has gained significant traction over the past few years, with a surge in the interest in and adoption of cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology. While the crypto industry is often associated with decentralization, innovation, and financial freedom, it is not immune to various political ideologies and influences, and right-wing movements are no exception.
The attraction of cryptocurrencies for right-wing politicians in Europe can stem from several factors. Right-wing ideologies often prioritize individual freedoms and limited government intervention. Cryptocurrencies, with their decentralized nature, offer the potential for financial sovereignty by allowing individuals to have control over their money without relying on traditional financial systems or government regulations.
Right-wing politicians may also perceive cryptocurrencies as a way to challenge the existing financial establishment and its perceived biases or control. Bitcoin (BTC), in particular, emerged after the 2008 financial crisis, a crisis that led many to lose trust in traditional financial institutions and governmental monetary policies. In addition, many became concerned about central banks and their influence on monetary policy, and Bitcoin’s decentralized nature appealed to those who advocate alternative monetary systems outside of central bank control.
For example, a German exit from the euro and a return to the Deutschmark (the country’s former currency) is a well-known demand of the 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 members have clearly expressed their positive attitude towards Bitcoin. For instance, AfD leader Alice Weidel has attended several Bitcoin conferences, called herself a “Bitcoin entrepreneur” and wanted to launch a Bitcoin startup. Even Aaron Koenig, a German entrepreneur and the founder of the brick-and-mortar crypto exchange Bitcoin Exchange Berlin, was on stage with Weidel, presenting their view of “money without a state.”
The AfD’s prioritization of crypto is also evident in its behavior in the Bundestag, Germany’s parliament. On several occasions, the AfD has submitted “Kleine Anfragen” (literally, “small requests”) to the government. This instrument of parliamentary procedure requires an official response from the Bundestag and is often a way for opposition parties to demand accountability for specific actions or inquire as to why other measures were not taken.
For instance, the party asked a “small question” about crypto donations for Ukraine, how a cryptocurrency could replace the previous currency, what effects this would have on the banking system, and how much Bitcoin German federal authorities own. AfD also opposed a proposed Bitcoin ban during discussions among European lawmakers last year.
The concept of cryptocurrency is, in some places, being linked to the right-wing and, in part, radical positions of the AfD.
So, is crypto a right-wing movement then? Not really.
While crypto itself is not inherently Right or Left, it is not without ideology, nor is it completely free of political positions. Politicians can like or hate it, regardless of their political persuasion, and support for cryptocurrencies among politicians is not limited to those leaning toward the Right. For example, the German liberal, pro-free market Free Democratic Party also advocates for a friendly policy toward cryptocurrencies.
To address the concerns of right-wing influence within the crypto community, fostering education, implementing regulations, and ensuring that the crypto space remains inclusive, transparent, and aligned with democratic principles is crucial. Social media platforms and online communities need to proactively curb hate speech, misinformation, and extremist content while promoting healthy, constructive dialogue.