Mapping the Rise of the Radical Right

The rise of the populist radical right in Europe is a topic that worries citizens, journalists, political elites and scholars alike. Much has been written on the nature of these parties, as well as why they are currently gaining in the political arena. This has focused on the institutional arrangement of different electoral systems and the dissimilar opportunities that they offer for the thriving of this kind of party; or on the demand side trying to unravel the reasons behind citizens’ voting behavior.

This strong emphasis on the behavior of citizens seems somehow unfair to them. Whether in contrast to the emphasis placed on the role played by citizens, or possibly in conjunction with it, it is worth considering the role played by mainstream parties, which has been a considerable factor in the rise of the populist right. Furthermore, and most importantly, is the role they must play if the current situation is to be reversed.

This situation is set out in the mind map below, which also details some of the most important bibliographical references.

View the detailed diagram >>

View - Mainstream parties and radical populism in Europe

As demonstrated, European mainstream parties pay a two-fold role: both in the origin and also in the resolution of the increasing electoral relevance of populist radical right parties (RRP) in Europe. They have played an important role in the origin enabling the contextual conditions for the current reinforcement and electoral success of RRP. They have done so by the progressive abandonment of the social-class cleavage and the discourses of equality and social justice, by the ideological convergence toward neo-liberal economic policies, and by their estrangement from their representative function. It is evident from these, that I hold leftist parties to be particularly responsible for this situation, although rightist parties are not free from blame.

However, it is for this same reason that, although all mainstream parties may contribute to the solution, it is probably the left who should lead the change. In termsof identifying a solution, the future development of our democratic societies will depend on the answer mainstream parties are able to give to the new electoral cleavages presented by the populist radical right in electoral competition. The essential choice is between emulating the discourses and strategies of RRP or, on the contrary, bringing new, or recovering old, dimensions of electoral competition that appeal to citizens while still being inclusive.

It seems most feasible that the best option is to recover both the cleavage based on social class and return to discourses of equality and social justice linked to welfare state. Not only do these have a tradition in European political tradition (even of a populist nature), they can also be considered to have the potential for crafting inclusive and transversal national identities.

Comments policy

All comments posted on the site via Disqus are automatically published. Additionally comments are sent to moderators for checking and removal if necessary. We encourage open debate and real time commenting on the website. The Centre on Constitutional Change cannot be held responsible for any content posted by users. Any complaints about comments on the site should be sent to info@centreonconstitutionalchange.ac.uk

Antonia Ruiz's picture
post by Antonia Ruiz
Universidad Pablo de Olavide
24th April 2018
Filed under:

Latest blogs

  • 13th July 2018

    The White Paper published this week talks about the UK Government making ‘sovereign decisions’ to adopt European rules but, as we know from the experience of Norway and Switzerland, this can be an illusory sovereignty when the costs of deviating from the rules is exclusion from the single market or European programmes. CCC Director Professor Michael Keating looks at whether the UK is ready for this kind of deal.

  • 12th July 2018

    Last week the government released its fisheries white paper. While most of the fisheries and Brexit debate centres on quotas and access to waters, there is also an important devolution dimension. Brexit already has profound consequences for the UK’s devolution settlement and fisheries policy is one example of this. So, in addition to communicating its overall vision for post-Brexit fisheries policy, the white paper was also an opportunity for the government to set out how it would see that policy working in the devolved UK.

  • 4th July 2018

    At the same time as Parliament prepares to ‘take back control’ from Brussels, the executive is in fact accruing to itself further control over the legislative process. CCC Fellow Professor Stephen Tierney addresses a number of trends – only some of which are a direct consequence of the unique circumstances of Brexit – which suggest a deeper realignment of institutional power within the constitution and a consequent diminution of Parliament’s legislative power.

  • 27th June 2018

    Faced with a choice between splitting her Cabinet into winners and losers, Theresa May has sought to keep the Brexit crap game going. She does this by avoiding betting on either a hard or soft Brexit. Professor Richard Rose of Strathclyde looks at the high stakes outcomes facing the Prime Minister. .

  • 25th June 2018

    CCC Director Professor Michael Keating considers the career of iconic Irish nationalist leader Charles Stewart Parnell whose mastery of Parliamentary tactics and ability to build a broad national alliance for radical change may have important lessons for the modern SNP.

Read More Posts