Once thought to represent a set of cleavages established in the 1920s, West
European party systems recently have undergone important changes.’ Beginning in
the 1970s, left-libertariane cological parties captureds mall but significant shares of
the vote in many countries and helped to define a new dimension of conflict in many
party systems. More recently, far right-wing parties have gained dramatically, taking
votes from established parties and pressing their issues onto political agendas.
Today the most successful of these parties are the Front National in France and the
Freedom Party in Austria, but Denmark, Norway, Italy, Belgium, Germany, and
Sweden have also seen important challenges by far-right parties. Despite important
differences among them, these parties’ positions put them on what is commonly
understood as the far right of the political spectrum. Much more than established
parties, they favor law and order, tax cuts, and limits on immigration and oppose
policies favored by social democratic parties (social equality, economic regulation)
and by left-libertarian and ecological parties (a multicultural society, women’s
equality, environmental protection).
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