Jan 122013
 

Liz Carter and I are organising a rather large section on the New Right (aka Radical Right, Populist Right, Extreme Right) for the 7th ECPR General Conference that will run from September 4 to September 7 this year. With six quality panels, we can accommodate up to 30 papers, which is obviously great. More specifically, there will be separate panels on these topics:

  1. The Radical Right in the Post-Communist Context: New Perspectives on an Old Phenomenon
  2. The Populist Voter
  3. The New Right and the ‘Squeezed Middle': Service Sector Vulnerability and Populist Appeal
  4. Extreme Right and Ethnic Politics in Eastern Europe
  5. The Eurozone Crisis and the Radical Right
  6. Radical/Extreme Right Party Ideology, Strategy and Organisation

Like our section for the Potsdam Coference in 2009, this should hopefully appeal to public opinion/electoral behaviour people as well as to those primarily interested in studying New Right parties. The conference will be held at Sciences Po Bordeaux (nice place, good food, and, in all likelihood, no hurricanes). While the website claims that the CfP will be “issued shortly”, you can (and should!) already submit your paper here. Don’t leave it too late – we’re looking forward to meeting you in September!

Jan 212012
 

Just finished my long-overdue review of David Art‘s latest book on Radical Right for West European Politics. I wonder how he survived those 140 interviews physically and mentally intact.

David Art: Inside the Radical Right. Cambridge University Press 2011. 288 pages, GBP 60 (Hardback)

Over the last thirty years, the Radical Right has established itself as a relevant player in many European political systems. Parties that are variously labelled as ‘extreme’, ‘populist’ or ‘anti-immigrant’ right are the subject of intense political and scientific scrutiny.

Perhaps one of the most striking facts about these parties is that electoral support for them varies so much over time and across political systems: some never get beyond the groupuscule stage, some are like the proverbial flash in the pan, while others are relatively stable over long periods and might even make or break governments. This empirical puzzle is the starting point for David Art’s latest book.

His is a contribution to the growing literature that focuses on the so-called ‘supply side’ of radical right politics. More specifically, Art claims that (collective) agency and structural factors interact to bring about radical right success or failure. Building on an argument whose intellectual lineage he traces back to Kitschelt and Downs, Art develops a simple yet useful typology of party activists by distinguishing between extremists, opportunists, and moderates, with the latter two groups being essential for a given party’s electoral success and organisational survival.

According to Art, structural factors, historical legacies and the initial reaction (permissive or repressive) to the new organisation determine how many and what type of activists will join. This mix, alongside with other factors such as the organisational abilities and other resources of the party founder(s) will shape the initial trajectory of the fledgling party.

While this causal mechanism may seem credible, it is obviously next to impossible to test the validity of the argument rigorously. Art responds to this challenge with a stupendous series of comparative case studies that go far beyond similar work on the Radical Right that has been done in the past. In four chapters, he traces the development of more than 20 radical right parties in ten Western European countries, trying to identify patterns that square with his assumptions. While few of his findings are completely new – after all, research on the radical right is a minor industry in political science and sociology – his expositions are very well structured and closely tied to the theoretical argument.

What sets the book apart, however, is the fact that large parts of it are based on not less than 140 interviews Art conducted with radical right party activists. Anyone who has ever worked in that field will know that getting and conducting even a single interview with a radical right activist is a formidable problem on more than one level, making Art’s feat all the more remarkable. Although these interviews are hardly unbiased and reliable sources, Art uses his unique material to give a nuanced account of the Radical Right’s internal dynamics. While the author’s determination to stick to his research design is laudable, one cannot help the feeling that there must be a whole host of more traditional books (on single parties or countries) waiting to be written on the basis of his notes.

Without doubt, Art’s book is an important and potentially controversial contribution that will refresh the sometimes slightly stale debate on causes of the differential success of the Radical Right. Its strict focus on the role of party activists (and elites outside the party) is both a strength and weakness. The real future challenge for the discipline will be to integrate the findings from party studies with the results from the literature on voter behaviour.

Apr 262009
 

Here is the (almost) finalised program for the our section on the Radical Right in Perspective, organised under the auspices of the ECPR’s 5th General Conference (Potsdam, September 10-12), boasting about 50 papers.

  • Post-Soviet Russian Nationalism: Ideology, Context, Comparison
    • The ‘New Political Novel’ by Right-Wing Writers in Post-Soviet Russia
    • Ethnic Conflict and Radical Right in Estonia: An Explosive Mixture?
    • How far is Moscow Weimar? Similarities and Dissimilarities between Inter-War Germany and Post-Soviet Russia
    • From Communist Totalitarianism to Right-wing Radicalism: The Dynamics of the Crimean Peripheral Politics and Its Impact on the Ukrainian State
    • Moderating/Mediating the Extreme: The Accommodation of Xenophobic Nationalist Views on Vladimir Pozner’s Vremena Programme
    • Right-wing extremism among immigrant adolescents from the FSU in Israel and Germany
  • The causes for the success and failure of the radical right in Central and Eastern Europe
    • Are there opportunity structures for the Radical Right? A comparative analysis of the Visegrad Group countries.
    • Explaining the failure of radical right parties in Estonia
    • Manoeuvring for the Right: Atypical Features of a Bulgarian Radical Right-Wing Party
    • The Diffusion of Radical Right Ideology in Central-Eastern Europe: Cultural Resonance and Issue Ownership Strategies as Factors Behind Electoral Support Takeover
    • The Radical Right in Bulgaria
    • From Alienation of the Working Class to the Rise of the Far Right? Party Strategy and Cleavage Evolution in Post-Communist Societies
  • On the Borderline Between Protest and Violence: Political Movements of the New Radical Right
    • Radical Right and the Use of Political Violence: Idealist Hearths in Turkey in the 1970s.
    • Extreme Right and Populism: a Frame Analysis of Extreme Right Wing Discourses in Italy and Germany
    • “Armed spontaneism”: an independent revolutionary way in the Italian extreme right-wing groups
    • Movement Against Illegal Immigration: analysis of the central node in the Russian extreme-right movement network
    • Mobilizing Activism: A comparative analysis of the contemporary Right-Wing Extremists and Islamists in Germany
    • Why There has been Little Violence among East European Radicals? Transformations of Tolerance in Post-peasant Eastern Europe
  • Consequences of the surge of anti-immigration parties
    • Anti-immigrant party support and newspaper coverage: a cross-national and over-time perspective
    • A Populist Zeitgeist? Populist Discourse among Mainstream Political Parties in Western Europe
    • The Surge of the Swiss Peoples Party: Implications at Switzerland’s Subnational Level
    • Immigration policy and the populist radical right in office: The policy impact of the FPÖ/BZÖ, 2000-06
    • Rhetoric or reality? Platforms and actions of anti-immigration parties
  • The Radical Right in Western Europe
    • A Matter of Timing? The Salience of Immigration and the Dynamics of Radical Right Electoral Success
    • Old Cleavages and New Actors in the Formation of a New Cultural Divide: Why a Right-Wing Populist Party Emerged in France but not in Germany
    • The Programmatic Positions of Established Parties and their Influence on Extreme Right Parties Vote Share
    • The Influence of the Programs of Far Right Parties on the Electoral System
    • Radical Right, Populism and the Fear of Democracy
    • Explaining anti-immigrant party support in Western Europe: individual grievances, elite failure or social context?
    • Comparing radical right party ideology and the voters’ profile and attitudes: a study on the Danish People’s Party, the Northern League and the Austrian Freedom Party
  • Inside the Radical Right: An Internalist Perspective
    • The Public Image of Leaders of Right-Wing Populist Parties: the Role of the Mass Media
    • ‘This rally is a must’ – Which factors lead neo-Nazis to take part in demonstration marches?
    • Right-wing extremist groups and Internet: Construction of Identity, Source of Mobilization and Organization
    • “Enemy from inside” the party and … inside us? What the researcher does to the local teams of the radical right in France: return to a possible controversial relationship
    • Pan-German student fraternities and the Austrian Freedom Party: A reciprocal relationship
  • Party-based Euroscepticism in Western and Eastern Europe
    • europeanization of euroscepticism? the significance of european parliament groups and factions for the typology and ideological classification of party-based euroscepticism
    • euroscepticism of turkish political parties
    • hellenes-barbarians and european civilization: a conceptual approach to the ideologies of the greek far right.
    • hungary – between euroenthusiasm and euroscepticsm
    • radical right euroscepticism and the theory of strategic choice
  • neighbourhood effects revisited: the visualisation of immigrants and radical right-wing vote
    • Presence of Migrants and Radical Right Support across Different Levels of National Institutionalisation
    • Exploring the Contextual Determinants of the anti-immigrant vote: The Case of the LPF
    • Explaining the extreme right resurgence in English local elections 2002-8: a spatial model of aggregate data
    • Ethnic Identity of Second Generation Immigrants across German Regions
    • Radical right’s neighbourhoods: considering meso level explanations for its success through a case-study at the local level
    • Is Local Diversity Harmful for Social Capital? A Multilevel Research on Flemish Data
    • Immigration, diversity and civic culture in Spain
  • The radical right and the debate over immigration policy
    • After Fortuyn: new radical right-wing populist parties in the Netherlands
    • Plataforma per Catalunya: emergence, features and quest for legitimacy of a new radical right party in the Spanish autonomous region of Catalonia
    • The impact of anti-immigration parties: a comparison between the Flemish VB and the Walloon FN
    • The (de)politicization of immigrant integration and policy outcome in Belgium.

The program is still somewhat in flux, and any omissions are accidental.

Mar 282009
 

My article on Contextual Factors (unemployment, immigration, other parties) and the Extreme Right vote in Western Europe between 1980 and 2002 was yesterday published in the American Journal of Political Science (online). Obviously, I’m absolutely chuffed. The DOI (doi:10.1111/j.1540-5907.2009.00369.x) does not work yet, but the link to Wiley Interscience does. Here is the full bibliographic information.

Multilevel replication data and scripts for Stata and MLWin are available via my dataverse.

 AJPS article on the Extreme Right published
Mar 052009
 

Over the last 7 years or so, much of my work has focused on the question of why support for the Extreme Right is so unstable over time and so uneven across countries. In a recent paper on Contextual Factors and the Extreme Right Vote in Western Europe, 1980-2002, I estimate a model that aims at providing a more comprehensive and satisfactory answer to this research problem by employing a broader database and a more adequate modelling strategy, i.e. multi-level modelling. 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 a whole host of individual and contextual variables is controlled for. Replication data for this article is available from my dataverse.

The final version of the paper will appear in the April issue of the American Journal of Political Science, which is obviously great.

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 Contextual Factors and the Extreme Right Vote in Western Europe, 1980 2002
Jan 202009
 

Does religion make you a better or worse human being? More specifically, does Christian religiosity reduce or increase the likelihood of a radical/extreme right vote in a West European context? This is the question Liz and I are trying to address in our latest paper on “Christian Religiosity and Voting for West European Radical Right Parties“.

There are a number of reasons why good Christians could be more likely to vote for the Right than agnostics: American research starting in the 1940s has linked high levels of church attendance and a closed belief systems to support for rightism. More over, contemporary Radical Right parties try to frame the issue of immigration in terms of a struggle between Christian/Western values and Islam.

On the other hand, many of the most radical parties (e.g. the Austrian FPÖ) have anti-clerical roots. Moreover, the Churches give support and shelter to refugees/immigrants in many countries, and some pro-immigrant movements are inspired by Christian values. Finally, religious voters are often firmly tied to Christian-Democratic parties and will therefore not be available for the Radical Right.

We develop a theoretical model that incorporates these mechanisms and use Structural Equation Modelling to test this model in eight countries: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Italy, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and Norway. As it turns out, religious people do not differ from their more agnostic compatriots in terms of their attitudes towards immigrants. They are, however, less likely to vote for the radical right because they often identify with Christian Democratic/Conservative parties. The final version of the paper will appear in West European Politics.

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Dec 082008
 

Finally, the call for papers for the ECPR’s 5th conference (at Potsdam, September 10-12 2009) is out. Our section on the Radical Right will consist of the following nine panels:

  • The Radical Right in Central and Eastern Europe
  • The Internationalisation of the Radical Right
  • Will Fascism return?
  • On the Borderline Between Protest and Violence: Political Movements of the New Radical Right
  • Consequences of the surge of anti-immigration parties
  • The Radical Right in Western Europe
  • Inside the Radical Right: An Internalist Perspective
  • Party-based Euroscepticism in Western and Eastern Europe
  • Neighbourhood Effects Revisited: the Visualisation of Immigrants and Radical Right-Wing Voting

Each panel can have up to five paper givers, so the section offers us a chance to bring together cutting edge research on the Populist/Extreme/Radical Right from various subfields (parties, voters, rational choice, normative theory – you name it). Please submit your abstract via the the electronic submission system to the appropriate panel(s).

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Oct 122008
 

“Colourful” did not even begin to describe him. If Bill Clinton was America’s first rock&roll president, Jörg Haider, who died in a car crash early on Saturday morning, was Austria’s first pop politician. Apt for a future right-winger, Haider was born into a national-socialist family. A gifted public speaker, he was active in right-wing circles and in Austria’s national-liberal party FPÖ from an early age on. In 1986, he rose to international prominence when he won (with the support of the party’s nationalist wing) a leadership contest against the FPÖ’s liberal figurehead Norbert Steger. Within months, Haider transformed the slightly dusty FPÖ into one of the most modern, controversial, populist and electorally successful parties of the European Extreme Right.
Under his leadership, the party went from strength to strength. In 1999, the FPÖ won over 20 per cent of the popular vote and entered a coalition with the Christian Democrats, thereby bringing Haider one step closer to his life-long ambition: to become chancellor (prime minister) of Austria. However, his involvement with the Austrian government triggered international backlash and the European Union’s ill-advised “sanctions” against Austria. Subsequentially, the party lost much of its support.
Haider retreated to subnational politics (he was “Landeshauptmann” (minister president) of the state of Carinthia from 1989-91 and then again from 1999 on). In 2005, he and a group of supporters left the FPÖ and formed a new party, the BZÖ. Considered a one-man show by many, Haider and the party garnered almost 11 per cent of the national vote in the general election two weeks ago, and Haider seemed destined to return to the forefront of Austrian politics.
Like many politicians, Haider was many things to many persons. His remarks on the “reasonable” economic and social policies of the Nazis predictably led to an international outcry. He was famous for political gaffes and insults but was described as courteous and friendly once the cameras were switched off. He also played an instrumental role in a referendum campaign against a nuclear power plant in 2002. Of course, he claimed the plant was insecure by definition because it was Czech, allowing Haider to play the national card and to exploit animosities that go back to the days of the Hapsburg Empire. Oddly enough, he also supported Turkey’s bid for membership in the European Union.
Haider carefully controlled his public image. Papers haven been written (and published) on his attractiveness for both male and female voter. Back in the 1980s, Austria’s other international pop star Falco quipped that people liked Haider because he was sexy and right-wing. At 58, Haider still projected the image of a youthful sportsman, which might explain that Austrians are so shocked by his sudden death. Politicians from all political parties are now praising his more positive qualities. Carinthia, where he was genuinely popular with large parts of the population, is rife with conspiracy theory.
Oddly enough, the death of its most prodigious leader might make Austria’s Extreme Right even stronger: without him, the BZÖ is an orphan that might soon be brought back into the FPÖ fold.
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