Blog posts on the Extreme Right

The Extreme Right (or Radical Right, New Right, Populist Right) is one of my main research interests. Here is a collection of blog posts on the Extreme Right (i.e. parties, voters, policies) that I have written over the years. If this is relevant for you, you might also be interested in the 400+ titles bibliography on the Extreme Right that I maintain and in this page, which summarises much of my work on the Extreme Right.

Dec 052016
 

For obvious reasons, books on the AfD are thin on the ground. It took me an unduly long time to review this one, not because there was anything wrong with the book but rather because something was wrong with my timekeeping and project mismanagement. Hopefully, the review should appear in one of the next issues of German Politics, but for the time being, I’m posting the author’s version here. And yes, most people who would be interested in the book would also be able to read the review in German. Odd. I know.

Alexander Häusler (Ed.): Die Alternative für Deutschland. Programmatik, Entwicklung und politische Verortung. Wiesbaden (VS), 2016, 251 pages, 29.99 Euros.

A party in transition

As an object of study, Germany’s new(-ish) Alternative für Deutschland party (AfD) is a moving target. Since its inception in early 2013, the party has gone from strength to strength and won parliamentary representation in the majority of the federal states and in the European Parliament. In all likelihood, the AfD will also enter the Bundestag, which would make it the first newcomer since 1990.

At the same time, the party underwent a remarkable transformation. While the AfD attracted a motley collection of right-wingers from the beginning, its public image was initially shaped by middle-aged conservative men, who had been, or could have been, former members of the Christian Democrats or the FDP. In 2013, the party’s very short manifesto was almost exclusively concerned with the reform of the EU and the Euro system and carefully avoided populist language. To the casual observer, the AfD may have looked like a breakaway from the CDU.

Two years down the line, the AfD’s most visible figure, Bernd Lucke, and many of his allies in the leadership had left the party. At the height of the Euro crisis, the AfD all but ditched Euroscepticism (still not a very salient issue in Germany) and began instead to focus on the familiar themes of immigration, asylum, and Islam. In the process, the AfD has arguably become Germany’s first modern and nationally successful Radical Right-Wing Populist Party.

The AfD in 2015

By necessity, any book on the AfD can only hope to provide a snapshot of the party’s rapidly unfolding development. One such snapshot, that nonetheless offers some deep insights, is the volume edited by Alexander Häusler. The 14 chapters (complemented by a short introduction and a concise summary) began their lives as papers for a conference that the FORENA research centre organised in February 2015. They have been updated for the book publication, but their style and content clearly reflects the dynamic nature of their object.

Häusler has organised the contributions along the lines of six broad themes: the AfD’s ideological position within the larger party system, the party’s prospective foreign policies, their positions on gender and family issues, their relationship with Pegida and Islamophobia more generally, their position vis-a-vis Germany’s New Right (“Neue Rechte”), and finally, the organisational realities on the ground (a somewhat odd section as there is only a single contribution: a case study on Brandenburg in early 2015). Accordingly, the chapters vary considerably in terms of their scope, methods, and outlook. For instance, in his analysis of the AfD’s position within and potential effect on the German party system, Frank Decker relies on the standard tool kit of comparative party (system) studies and looks at the AfD’s history, party ideology, membership, affiliations, and voters. Similarly, Marcel Lewandowsky applies (qualitative) content analysis to a set of party documents (mostly manifestos) to compare the AfD’s stance on EU politics and International Relations more generally to those of the CSU, NPD, and the “Freie Wähler”. Felix Korsch, on the other hand, presents a detailed quantitative analysis of publicly accessible sources to uncover the degree of overlap between (prominent) members of Pegida, of the AfD, and of other parties and organisation. He complements his findings by pointing out how some of the claims and demands voiced by Pegida resemble those made by the AfD, while other authors offer very detailed insights into the microcosm of right-wing movements and organisations in Germany.

The AfD’s gender agenda

Perhaps the most interesting section is the one on gender and family issues. Christian fundamentalism is a niche issue in Germany. Politically, it has been mostly confined to micro parties such as the Partei Bibeltreuer Christen (PBC). But Andreas Kemper and Ulli Jentsch demonstrate in their respective chapters that there is again overlap between Germany’s small pro-life movement and other ’anti-emancipatory’ actors on the one hand and elite actors within the AfD on the other. As a corollary, Jasmin Siri’s qualitative analysis of party documents reveals the outlines of a highly traditional, if not anti-feminist agenda.

Conclusion

Reflecting its origins in a conference, and, more importantly, the rapid transformation of the AfD itself, the book can not hope to provide a single, coherent and definitive statement on the young party. But this is not a shortcoming: The authors and the editor present a useful, multi-faceted snapshot of a party in transition that can serve as a starting point for a whole host of future avenues for research.

Nov 292016
 

Why is there support for the Radical Right?

I’ve just submitted the final (hopefully) draft of a chapter that I’m preparing for Jens Rydgren’s forthcoming Oxford Handbook of the Radical Right. The job description was to Explain Electoral Support for the Radical Right (read the pre-print here). In 8000 words or less. Sure thing. No pressure.

Potential causes of Radical Right voting

Outside Europe, believing in Hell is one probable cause

Given the formidable size of the literature on the Radical Right, I had to be brutal. The chapter organises the presumptive causes of right-wing voting along the lines of the familiar Micro-Meso-Macro scheme, focusing on a number of landmark studies on the one hand and some of the latest research on the other. I aim at weighing the evidence in favour and against some prominent hypotheses about the conditions for Radical Right party success, including the pure-protest hypothesis, the charismatic-leader hypothesis, and the silent-counter-revolution hypothesis. Following that, I discuss what we know about the effects of a host of meso- and macro-level factors, and point out some directions for further research. I concludes that Radical Right mobilisation is now the rule rather than the exception, and that we should perhaps focus on understanding why they are not successful in some cases.

Post-Truth Politics Disclaimer:

I completely made up that number

Nov 102016
 

The right-wing website Breitbart, one of the key allies of the Trump campaign, has told Reuters (link to the article is below) that they want to expand their network to include sites for France and Germany. Breitbart already has a site in the UK, which was an important part of the pro-Brexit network. Allegedly, they have begun hiring staff, so they must think that there is a market for their kind of journalism in these two countries. Goddess help us all.

Nov 082016
 

The ‘s leadership is highly fragmented. Regional figures play an important role for the ideology and image of the party. The national executive has not one, but two party chairs. While Frauke Petry is the more prominent and visibly of the two, co-leader Jörg Meuthen, an academic economist, has long refused to be sidelined in the struggle for power within the party.

For months, Meuthen has declined to rule out that he would stand as Spitzenkandidat for his party in the upcoming 2017 Bundestag election. But yesterday, he finally announced that he wants to keep his seat in the Baden-Württemberg state parliament. Of course, there is a barb: Meuthen also said that someone else could be Petry’s co-Spitzenkandidat.

Source: Jörg Meuthen: AfD-Chef will nicht in den Bundestag

Nov 022016
 

radical-right-readerCas Mudde’s excellent Populist Radical Right Reader is finally out. The book brings together 32 texts that have previously been published as chapters or articles over the course of the last three decades. The reader covers topics such as right-wing ideology, organisations including parties, leaders and members, or right-wing voters. Perhaps most importantly, there is also one section on the consequences of right-wing mobilisation, and another one on the responses to it. And obviously, I’m proud and honored that one my own pieces is included in the collection.

As an academic, I see the copy that was in today’s mail like a bag of post-Halloween candy. As a citizen and human being, I’m sad and worried that there is large and growing demand for such a tome.

content.jpg

Oct 222016
 

Which publishers are the most relevant for Radical Right research? Good question.

Radical Right research by type of publication

Currently, most of the items in the The Eclectic, Erratic Bibliography on the Extreme Right in Western Europe (TM) are journal articles. The books/chapters/articles ratios have shifted somewhat over the years, reflecting both general trends in publishing and my changing reading habits, and by now the dominance of journal articles is rather striking.

Radical Right research by type of publication

The most important journals for Radical Right research (add pinch of salt as required)

One in three of this articles has been published in one of the four apparent top journals for Radical Right research: the European Journal of Political Research, West European Politics, Party Politics, and Acta Politica. I say ’apparent’ here, because this result may be a function of my (Western) Eurocentrism and my primary interest in Political Science and Sociology. Other Social Sciences are underrepresented, and literature from national journals that publish in other languages than English is virtually absent.

But hey: Laying all scruples aside, here is a table of the ten most important journals for Radical Right research:

Journal No. of articles
European Journal of Political Research 38
West European Politics 35
Party Politics 24
Acta Politica 22
Electoral Studies 15
Parliamentary Affairs 13
Patterns of Prejudice 12
Comparative European Politics 10
Comparative Political Studies 10
Government and Opposition 9

Neat, isn’t it?

I did a similar analysis nearly two years ago. Government and Opposition as well as Comparative European Politics are new additions to the top ten (replacing Österreichische Zeitschrift für Politikwissenschaft and Osteuropa), but otherwise, the picture is much the same. So if you publish on the Radical Right and want your research to be noticed, you should probably aim for these journals.

Oct 212016
 

Nach der Tötung eines Polizisten ist das mediale Interesse an den bis dato weithin unbekannten “Reichsbürgern” groß. Im Kurzinterview versuche ich einige Fragen zu dieser Gruppe zu beantworten.

Oct 202016
 

For the past 15 years or so, I have maintained an extensive collection of references on the Radical/Extreme/Populist/New/Whatever Right in Western Europe. Because I love TeX and other command line tools of destruction, these references live in a large BibTeX file. BibTeX is a well-documented format for bibliographic text files that has been around for decades and can be written and read by a large number of reference managers.

Because BibTeX is so venerable, it’s unsurprising that there is even an R package (RefManageR) that can read and write BibTeX files, effectively turning bibliographic data into a dataset that can be analysed, graphed and otherwise mangled to one’s heart’s desire. And so my totally unscientific analysis of the Radical Right literature (as reflected in my personal preferences and interests) is just three lines of code away:

library("RefManageR")
# read
ex <- ReadBib("/home/kai/Work/bibliography/xr-bibliography/extreme-right-western-europe-bibliography.bib")
tail(sort(table(unlist(ex$year))),5)
year publications
2014 34
2012 38
2000 42
2002 54
2015 57

So 2012, 2014 and 2015(!) saw a lot of publications that ended up on my list, but 2000 and particularly 2002 (the year Jean-Marie Le Pen made it into the second round of the French presidential election) were not bad either. 2013 and 2003 (not listed) were also relatively strong years, with 33 publications each.

To get a more complete overview, it’s best to plot the whole time series (ignoring some very old titles):

years.png

There is a distinct upwards trend all through the 1990s, a post-millenial decline in the mid-naughties (perhaps due to the fact that I completed a book manuscript then and became temporarily negligent in my collector’s duties, but I don’t think so), and then a new peak during the last five years, undoubtedly driven by recent political events and countless eager postdocs and PhD students. I’m just beginning to understand the structure of data objects that RefManageR creates from my bibliography, but I think it’s time for some league tables next.

Oct 062016
 

Wonder about recent and previous research on the Radical Right? Here is a public service announcement: Since at least some leaves are brown and the sky is mostly grey, it must be time for the autumn update to the ever more eclectic (and erratic!) bibliography on the Radical/Extreme Right in Western Europe. This is a major revision: Since the spring edition, the bibliography has grown from 506 to 613 titles on the New/Radical/Populist/Extreme/You-Know-What-I-Mean Right (that’s a cool 21% increase). The growth is mostly due to a wealth of new articles that have appeared in the last couple of years. Unlike in previous editions, I have included an number of titles that are still on my to-read list, purely on the grounds that they look interesting. As always, please send me your suggestions for further additions to the list.

Photo by gadl