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Paul Lucardie



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Radical Right-Wing Populist Parties in Western Europe

Into the Mainstream?
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Radical right-wing populist parties, such as Geert Wilders’ Party for Freedom, Marine Le Pen’s National Front or Nigel Farage’s UKIP, are becoming increasingly influential in Western European democracies. Their electoral support is growing, their impact on policy-making is substantial, and in recent years several radical right-wing populist parties have assumed office or supported minority governments.

Are these developments the cause and/or consequence of the mainstreaming of radical right-wing populist parties? Have radical right-wing populist parties expanded their issue profiles, moderated their policy positions, toned down their anti-establishment rhetoric and shed their extreme right reputations to attract more voters and/or become coalition partners? This timely book answers these questions on the basis of both comparative research and a wide range of case studies, covering Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, the Netherlands, Norway, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.

Analysing the extent to which radical right-wing populist parties have become part of mainstream politics, as well as the factors and conditions which facilitate this trend, this book is essential reading for students and scholars working in European politics, in addition to anyone interested in party politics and current affairs more generally.

Exposing the Demagogues

Right-wing and National Populist Parties in Europe
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The European financial and—partly stemming from this—fiscal crisis is the most severe economic crisis to have occurred since the 1920s. As with every crisis of such dimensions, it has created insecurity and doubt about the existing political systems and institutional arrangements. These concerns are being exploited by nationalistic parties and the virulent media, and are solely focused on the national political arena. National selfinterest and prejudices against European neighbours and fellow European citizens are increasing: southern Europeans are portrayed as averse to work and unwilling to reform, northern Europeans as lacking solidarity. Abusive comparisons with Fascism have even been made.

The boost to populist parties and the receptivity of the public to their messages have been facilitated by the current crisis. The magnitude of the electoral gains that populist parties have been able to acquire due to their anti-European slogans and programmes is surprising and worrying. They succeed by delivering apparently straightforward solutions, which are often derived from national interest, to what are actually complex political problems—solutions that have persuasive power amongst a broad audience. This kind of nationalist and anti-European rhetoric endangers not only economic prosperity, but also democracy.

Bijzonderheden: Geert Wilders and the Party for Freedom in the Netherlands: A Political Entrepreneur in the Polder: page 187-203

Democrats and other extremists

A comparative Analysis of extremist parties in Germany and the Netherlands
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The case studies show that only few parties meet the criteria of the aristotelian definition of political extremism, in the German Federal Republic and the Netherlands at the turn of the century. Socio-economic and cultural extremism seem slightly more common. According to our definition, political extremists strive for a more purely aristocratic, monarchic or democratic regime. As democracy has been sanctified in two world wars, nowadays hardly any party dares to attack it openly.

Bijzonderheden: Paper presented to the Workshop ‘Democracy and the New Extremist Challenge in Europe’ Joint Sessions of the ECPR Grenoble, 6 – 11 April 2001

Right-Wing Extremism in the Netherlands

why it is still a marginal phenomenon
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The Extreme Right has always been weak and fragmented in the Netherlands. It lacked an
ideological tradition as well as a solid social base. A landowning aristocracy no longer played
a significant role in Dutch politics in the nineteenth century – power had shifted to a patrician
bourgeoisie already in the Dutch Republic (1588-1795). Moreover, the Dutch did not have to
deal with a national question that could have given rise to a nationalist movement with
extremist tendencies. It is true, reactionary anti-democratic forces did emerge in the late
nineteenth century, but they were divided between Liberal, Catholic and Calvinist parties.
Only has survived until today, the Reformed State Party (Staatkundig Gereformeerde Partij ,
SGP). This party has come to accept democracy in practice, but not in theory. It would like to
replace universal suffrage by ‘organic suffrage’, i.e. give the right to vote only to (male)
heads of households.3 However, it is not a nationalist, racist or xenophobic party.4 Since 1925
it has occupied two or three seats in parliament.

The extreme right in the Netherlands

The centrists and their radical rivals
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The Dutch party system has always been fragmented and rich in variety. The
Extreme Right has suffered from fragmentation and pillarization, too. Though
it has gained some ground in recent years, it seems still weak in comparison
with its German, French or Italian counterparts. When discussing its prospects
for the future, we must distinguish between the three varieties of right-wing
extremism th at exist in the Netherlands at present: