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Session Overview
RN32_04a_P: Radical Right-wing Populist Parties in Comparative Perspective I
Thursday, 31/Aug/2017:
9:00am - 10:30am

Session Chair: Dietmar Loch, University of Lille1
Location: PD.2.33
PANTEION University of Social & Political Sciences 136 Syggrou Avenue 17671 Athens, Greece Building: D, Level: 2.

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Populist Radical Right Parties in Europe after Brexit: Similarities and Differences

Dietmar Loch

University of Lille1, France

This proposition wants to contribute to the comparative dimension of the panel topic. How can we analyse, first, the relations between the social and cultural change in European societies (long-term change, modernisation, cultural differentiation, economic and financial crisis, migrations crisis, etc.) and the success of populist radical right parties since the 1980s, in order to find their similarities, especially after Brexit? We use cleavage theory to link the electoral success to these structural changes of European societies, which are embedded in the process of globalization and in “the (un-)making of Europe”. Cleavage-related protectionist positions of the populist radical right parties towards European integration and globalization allow examining their economic (“modernization losers”) and cultural (ethnic competition, cultural differences) similarities. Furthermore, they can show that - even when in certain periods the radical right focussed on criticizing global capitalism - its dominant characteristics are linked to the cultural (national identity) and also to the political sphere (national sovereignty, Europeanization of Brexit, populist democracy). Second, these similarities, which we can observe all over Europe, are accompanied by regional and national differences existing in the electoral success of these parties and its explanations. These differences can be explained especially by the persistence of national political cultures and by political opportunity structures. The comparison of selected cases (France, Austria, Germany, Hungary, et al.) will demonstrate these similarities and differences. The aim of this contribution is to bring empirical evidence in this comparative framing.

“Parties of the crisis? The populist radical right in Spain and Greece”

Sofia Tipaldou

Panteion University of Athens, Spain

The 2014 European Parliament election resulted to the rise of xenophobic, anti-immigration, revanchist, and eurosceptic parties across the European Union. This paper explores the extent to which high levels of unemployment and political dissatisfaction (the ‘crisis theories’) can explain the rise of eurosceptic populist radical right parties within the EU – parties that turn against it. It draws on examples from two similar Southern European crisis-ridden environments with opposing trends of radical right support. In Greece, Golden Dawn became the fifth biggest force, while in Spain no similar radical right formation has managed to create a solid electoral base at the national level. My case study for the Spanish case is the Catalan radical right party Platform for Catalonia (PxC), the most successful party of its kind in regional level up to this point. Golden Dawn and PxC have moderated their discourse, following the example of Le Pen's National Front, and are now resembling other Western European populist radical right parties. Both Greece and Spain account for the highest unemployment—particularly youth unemployment—percentage in the EU; receive a big number of refugees; have a dictatorial experience; and have been shaken by immense popular protests during the last years. My research aims to introduce country-specific characteristics and movement dynamics (party ideology, leadership, and strategies) in the study of the electoral success of populist radical right parties, contributing thus to the ongoing debate on the role of economic crises on the rise of populist radical right parties, as well as on their potential indirect threat to democracy and to the European ideal.

European Radical Right-wing Populist Parties challenging Judicial Powers. A Comparison between the Dutch Party for Freedom and the Swiss People’s Party

Oscar Mazzoleni1, Gerrit Voerman2

1University of Lausanne; 2University of Groningen

This contribution addresses the question how do European radical-right wing populist parties (RRPPs) frame and challenge the judicial power. RRPPs tend to be ambivalent facing democracy (e.g. Mudde 2013), promoting the rule of the people, emphasizing direct democracy, and undermining the rule of the law by stressing the arbitrary role of judges, asking at the same time for freedom of speech when they are accused by judges for racist statements etc. Moreover, these parties tend to challenge the division of powers in constitutional democracies and fight against juridical elites. However, in-depth empirical analysis on this topic is lacking. Trying to contribute to fill the gap, the paper will compare two European radical-right wing populist parties, the Dutch Party for Freedom and the Swiss People’s Party, focusing on party manifestos, parliamentary proceedings and public speeches by political leaders.

The new radical right and the perspective of populist democracy in Europe

Lorenzo Viviani

University of Pisa, Italy

This paper analyses the tension present in the reconfiguration of the political forms and players in the crisis of representative democracy and the hypothesis of a populist democracy shared by new radical right parties in Europe. In the face of change in the social bases of advanced European democracies, politics has delayed the articulation of new cleavages characterising a society that can no longer be attributed to the perimeter of belonging and the social classes of the 20th century. The crisis is therefore not an expression of criticism against democracy as a political regime per sé, but rather corresponds to a crisis in the legitimacy of traditional political players. The democratic deficit feeding populism is not weakened by the claimed desire to broaden the participatory dimension of politics, insomuch as it derives from the loss of collective references in a society divided in new winners and new losers of globalization and in the midst of a crisis of the concept of equality. These aspects shall be analysed further as part of the interpretation of populism as a phenomenon comprising an appeal to the people and an opposition to the élite. The purpose of this paper is to address the issue of the politicization of anti-political-establishment sentiment, where populism is considered not so much as an ideology but as a political strategy of politicization of the rift between society and politics, where political leaders and parties are the key players in shaping the disaffection of the people toward the traditional mass politics.

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