This paper seeks to explain the variation in the success of radical right political parties across ten European political systems over the last several decades. I argue that such parties succeed over the long term only when they both 1) build on pre-existing nationalist organizations and networks and 2) face a permissive rather than repressive political environment. These hypotheses are tested on the cases of Denmark, France, Italy and Sweden. By adding factors such as historical legacies, party organization, and interactions between mainstream parties and far right challengers to the study of radical right parties, we can better understand their divergent trajectories. Ideas about the legitimacy of the radical right also influence the reaction of mainstream challengers to them, and represent a promising topic for future research.
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Bijzonderheden: Paper Prepared for the Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association, August 31-September 3, Philadelphia