This article presents an agency-based approach to the success of radical right-wing populist parties. It posits that radical right parties will only experience sustained electoral success when they are built prior to their electoral breakthrough and when they institutionalise rapidly. The process of institutionalisation will progress more quickly when radical right parties have a leader with strong internal leadership qualities and when sufficient attention is paid to the recruitment, training and socialisation of candidates. The argument is illustrated through a comparison between two Dutch radical right parties: the Lijst Pim Fortuyn (LPF) and the Partij Voor de Vrijheid (PVV). The two cases offer a compelling example of learning effects in politics: Geert Wilders (PVV) observed the collapse of the LPF and has avoided making the same mistakes.
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