Extreme Right Parties & Voters in Western Europe

The Extreme Right (aka Far Right, Populist Right, Anti-Immigrant Right …) in Western Europe has been the main focus of my research since the 1990s. Over the last decades, I have published a monograph (in German) and numerous articles and book chapters on the subject. I’ve posted pre-prints for some of them here, with replication data available from my dataverse. I also blog regularly on the subject and comment on twitter. Last not least, I maintain an extensive bibliography on the Extreme Right.

The AfD: Finally a Successful Right-Wing Populist Eurosceptic Party for Germany?
Within less than two years of being founded by disgruntled members of the governing CDU, the newly-formed Alternative for Germany (AfD) party has already performed extraordinary well in the 2013 General election, the 2014 EP election, and a string of state elections. Highly unusually by German standards, it campaigned for an end to all efforts to save the Euro and argued for a re-configuration of Germany's foreign policy. This seems to chime with the recent surge in far right voting in Western Europe, and the AfD was subsequently described as right-wing populist and europhobe. On the basis of the party's manifesto and of hundreds of statements the party has posted on the internet, this article demonstrates that the AfD does indeed occupy a position at the far-right of the German party system, but it is currently neither populist nor does it belong to the family of Radical Right parties. Moreover, its stance on European Integration is more nuanced than expected and should best be classified as soft eurosceptic.
Rechtsextremismus in Deutschland in sechs handlichen Kapiteln [Rezensionsessay]
Gideon Botsch hat eine knappe Gesamtdarstellung der deutschen extremen Rechten nach 1945 vorgelegt, die einen komprimierten, aber sehr gut lesbaren Überblick über mehr als sechs Jahrzehnte bundesdeutschen Rechtsextremismus gibt. Bedauerlich ist das durch das Format erzwungene Fehlen von Fußnoten und der weitgehende Verzicht auf Belege im Text, Ein weiteres Problem liegt darin, dass die Darstellung fast vollständig ohne einen theoretischen Unterbau auskommt. Das Buch sollte vor allem als Nachschlagewerk betrachtet werden, mit dessen Hilfe sich die Studierenden rasch das notwendige zeitgeschichtliche Hintergrundwissen erschließen können.
Political Opportunity Structures and Right-Wing Extremist Party Success
West European right-wing extremist parties have received a great deal of attention over the past two decades due to their electoral success. What has received less coverage, however, is the fact that these parties have not enjoyed a consistent level of electoral support across Western Europe during this period. This article puts forward an explanation of the variation in the right-wing extremist party vote across Western Europe that incorporates a wider range of factors than have been considered previously. It begins by examining the impact of socio-demographic variables on the right-wing extremist party vote. Then, it turns its attention to a whole host of structural factors that may potentially affect the extreme right party vote, including institutional, party-system and conjunctural variables. The article concludes with an assessment of which variables have the most power in explaining the uneven electoral success of right-wing extremist parties across Western Europe. The findings go some way towards challenging the conventional wisdom as to how the advance of the parties of the extreme right may be halted.
Die Wähler der Extremen Rechten 1980-2002
My monograph on the Extreme Right vote in Western Europe covers the EU-15 states plus Norway and Switzerland from 1980 to 2003 [in German] Seit den frühen 1980er Jahren haben sich die Parteien der Extremen Rechten – manchmal auch als Radikale Rechte, Neue Rechte oder Populistische Rechte bezeichnet – als neue Parteienfamilie in Westeuropa etabliert. Fast jeder der alten EU-Mitgliedsstaaten sowie Norwegen und die Schweiz mußte sich in diesem Zeitraum mit einer oder mehreren dieser Parteien auseinandersetzen, deren Verhältnis zur liberalen Demokratie häufig als problematisch erscheint. Dieses Buch untersucht die Wählerschaft dieser Parteien. Ein Schwerpunkt liegt dabei auf dem Zusammenspiel von Mikro- und Makro-Faktoren, das das Wahlverhalten zugunsten dieser Parteien erklären kann.
Contextual Factors and the Extreme Right Vote in Western Europe, 1980-2002
Why is support for the Extreme Right unstable over time and uneven across countries? This study covers the joint effect of micro and macro factors on the Extreme Right vote in all EU-15 countries plus Switzerland and Norway from 1980 to 2002. The main finding is that while immigration and unemployment rates are important, their interaction with other political factors is much more complex than suggested by previous research. Moreover, persistent country effects prevail even if individual and contextual variables are controlled for.
Christian Religiosity and Voting for West European Radical Right Parties
This article examines the relationship between Christian religiosity and the support for radical right parties in Western Europe. Drawing on theories of electoral choice and on socio-psychological literature largely ignored by scholars of electoral behaviour, it suggests and tests a number of competing hypotheses. The findings demonstrate that while religiosity has few direct effects, and while religious people are neither more nor less hostile towards ethnic minorities and thereby neither more nor less prone to vote for a radical right party, they are not ‘available’ to these parties because they are still firmly attached to Christian Democratic or conservative parties. However, given increasing de-alignment, this ‘vaccine effect’ is likely to become weaker with time.
Protest, Neo-Liberalism or Anti-Immigrant Sentiment: What Motivates the Voters of the Extreme Right in Western Europe?
Over the last three decades, the parties of the "Extreme", "Radical" or "Populist" Right have become a political staple in Western Europe. However, comparative evidence on the motives of their voters is relatively scarce. This article assesses the empirical effects of the most prominent alleged motivational factors "pure" (i.e. performance related) protest, anti-immigrant sentiment, and neo-liberal economic preferences – on the extreme right vote while controlling for a whole host of background variables. While protest and neo-liberalism have no statistically significant impact whatsoever, immigrant sentiment plays a crucial role in all countries but Italy. Its effect is moderated, however, by general ideological preferences and party identification. Consequentially, comparative electoral research should focus on the circumstances under which immigration is politicised.
Working Class Parties 2.0? Competition between Centre Left and Extreme Right Parties
The propensity of workers to vote for the Extreme Right has risen significantly. This “proletarisation” is the result of the interplay between a long-term dealignment process and increasing worries amongst the European working classes about the immigration of cheap labour. As a result, Western European Centre Left parties may find themselves squeezed between the New Right on the one hand and the New Left on the other. There is no obvious strategy for dealing with this dilemma. Staying put will not win working class defectors back. Toughening up immigration policies is unpalatable for many party members, does not seem to make Social Democrats more attractive for working class voters, and might eventually alienate other social groups
How (not) to Operationalise Subnational Political Opportunity Structures
Kestilä and Söderlund (2007) examine the impact of subnational political opportunity structures on the success of the radical right and argue that such an approach can control for a wider range of factors and provide more reliable results than cross-national analyses. The present article disputes this claim on theoretical, conceptual and methodological grounds and demonstrates that their empirical findings are spurious.
Die Wähler der Republikaner und der PDS in West- und Ostdeutschland
This chapter from the mid-1990s compares the voters of the (then) post-socialist PDS party with those of the right-wing populist Republican [in German]. Eine empirische Analyse der Wählerschaften von PDS und Republikanern (REP)
Liberalismus, Rechtsradikalismus und Rechtspopulismus in Deutschland und Österreich
This is a comparative piece on right-wing populism in Austria and Germany that I co-authored as a PhD student back in the 1990s when I was young, careless, and heavily under the influence of Herbert Kitschelt's monograph on the Radical Right in Western Europe [in German]. Dies ist eine vergleichende Analyse der Wählerschaften der Repulikaner (REP), der FPÖ und der FDP am Ende der 1990er Jahre
Wahlen und Rechtsextremismus
This chapter provides a summary of what is known about electoral support for the Extreme Right in Germany in the postwar era [in German]. Dieses Kapitel gibt einen Überblick über das Wahlverhalten zugunsten der Extremen Rechten in Deutschland seit dem Zweiten Weltkrieg

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