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In political science, the terms radical right and populist righthave been used to refer to the range of European far-right parties that have grown in support since the late 1970s. Populist right wing groups have shared a number of causes, which typically include opposition to globalisation, criticism of immigration and multiculturalism, and opposition to the European Union.
The ideological spectrum of the radical right extends from right-wing populism to white nationalism and neo-fascism.
The Friedrich Ebert Foundation, in a 2011 book, defines the terms "right wing extremist" and "right wing populist" differently.
In 1996, the Dutch political scientist Cas Mudde noted that in most European countries, the terms "radical right" and "extreme right" were used interchangeably.He cited Germany as an exception, noting that among political scientists in that nation, the term "radical right" (Rechsradikalismus) was used in reference to those right-wing groups which were outside the political mainstream but which did not threaten "the free democratic order"; the term was thus used in contrast to the "extreme right" (Rechsextremen), which referred to groups which did threaten the constitutionality of the state and could therefore be banned under German law.
The term "radical right" originated in U.S. political discourse, where it was applied to various anti-communist groups active in the 1950s era of McCarthyism.The term and accompanying concept then entered Western Europe through the social sciences. Conversely, the term "right-wing extremism" developed among European scholars, particularly those in Germany, to describe right-wing groups that developed in the decades following the Second World War, such as the West German National Democratic Party and the French Poujadists. This term then came to be adopted by some scholars in the U.S.
In his study of the movement in Europe, David Art defined the term "radical right" as referring to "a specific type of far right party that began to emerge in the late 1970s"; as Art used it, "far right" was "an umbrella term for any political party, voluntary association, or extra-parliamentary movement that differentiates itself from the mainstream right".Most commentators have agreed that these varied radical right parties have a number of common characteristics. Givens stated that the two characteristics shared by these radical rights groups were:
In 2000, Minkenberg characterised the "radical right" as "a political ideology, the core element of which is a myth of a homogeneous nation, a romantic and populist ultranationalism which is directed against the concept of liberal and pluralistic democracy and its underlying principles of individualism and universalism. The contemporary radical right does not want to return to pre-democratic regimes such as monarchy or feudalism. It wants government by the people, but in terms of ethnocracy instead of democracy."
Journalist Nick Robins-Early characterised the European radical right as focusing on "sometimes vitriolic anti-Euro, anti-immigrant sentiment, as well as renewed security fears" within European nations.According to political scientist Andrej Zaslove, populist radical right parties "employ an anti‐state, anti‐bureaucratic, anti‐elite, anti‐European Union political message."
The European migrant crisis has caused a significant uptick in the populist support for right-wing parties.A 2016 article in the New York Times argued that the "once-unthinkable" British vote to leave the EU is the result of "Populist anger against the established political order".
The 2005 paper in the European Journal of Political Research argues that the two groups most likely to vote for populist right parties are "blue-collar workers – who support extensive state intervention in the economy – and owners of small businesses – who are against such state intervention".
A 2014 article by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation argued that economic inequality is growing the gap "between the winners of globalisation and its losers. The first group live in urban areas, have relatively stable jobs and access to modern communications and transport, but fears nevertheless that it will soon share the fate of the second group. The second group, meanwhile, are threatened by unemployment or stuck in poorly paid and precarious jobs. They belong to the working class or consider themselves part of the lower middle class and fear – for themselves or their children – (further) social decline. Such people live in de-industrialised areas, or rural or semi-urban areas, on the periphery of globalised metropolises to which they have no access."
Scholars have argued that neoliberalism has led to European "social and economic insecurity" in the working and middle classes, leading to the growth of right wing populism.
Minkenberg termed the supporters of the radical right "modernization losers", in that they are from the sectors of society whose "social and cultural capital is shrinking and they are intent on defending it against encroachments on their traditional entitlements."He described this base as those who exhibit "unease, rigid thinking, authoritarian attitudes and traditional values — all of which reinforce each other."
A number of radical right elements express a desire for fascist or neo-Nazi rule in Europe.
Political scientist Michael Minkenberg stressed that the radical right was "a modern phenomenon", stating that it is only "vaguely connected" to previous right-wing movements because it has "undergone a phase of renewal, as a result of social and cultural modernisation shifts in post-war Europe."As such he opined that describing it using terms such as "fascism" or "neo-fascism", which were closely linked the right-wing movements of the early 20th century, was an "increasingly obsolete" approach.
Minkenberg argued that the radical right groups in Eastern Europe, including in Eastern Germany, were distinct from their counterparts in Western Europe.He added that "the East European radical right is more reverse-oriented than its Western counterpart, i.e. more antidemocratic and more militant" and that because of the relatively new establishment of liberal democracy in Eastern Europe, violence still could be used as a political tool by the Eastern radical right.
Jeffrey Kaplan and Leonard Weinberg's 1998 book The Emergence of a Euro-American Radical Right says that populist right wing movements are supported by extra-parliamentary groups with electorally unpalatable views, such as Christian Identity movements, anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, the promotion of scientific racism and Holocaust denial, and neo-Nazi economic theories like Strasserism.
In 1998, the political scientists Jeffrey Kaplan and Leonard Weinberg argued that the interaction of right-wingers and the transmission of ideas between right-wing groups in Western Europe and the United States was common, having been aided by the development of the internet.They believed that in the late 20th century a discernible "Euro-American radical right" that would promote a trans-national white identity politics, promoting populist grievance narratives around groups who feel besieged by non-white peoples through multiculturalism. This concept of a unified "white" race was not always explicitly racialist, in many cases instead being conceived of as being a bond created by "cultural affinity and a sense of common historical experience and a shared ultimate destiny".
Kaplan and Weinberg also identified differences in the radical right movements of Europe and North America. They noted that European radical right parties had been able to achieve electoral successes in a way that their American counterparts had failed to do.Instead, radical right activists in the U.S. had attempted to circumvent the restrictions of the two-party system by joining right-wing trends within the Republican Party. They also noted that legal restrictions on such groups differed in the two continents; in the U.S., the First Amendment protected the free speech of radical right groups, while in most West European nations there were laws prohibiting hate speech and (in several countries) Holocaust denial, thus forcing European radical right groups to present a more moderate image.
Alongside the radical right political parties, there are also extra-parliamentary groups which – having no need to express views that will be electorally palatable – are able to express a more heterogenous array of right-wing views. These extra-parliamentary rightist groups are often religious in nature, affiliated either with Christian Identity or with Odinism, reflecting a greater racial mysticism than was present in earlier right-wing movements. Such groups often believe that Western governments are under the control of a Zionist Occupation Government (ZOG), thus expressing explicitly anti-Semitic views. Such groups are also less enthusiastic about capitalism and free markets as the radical right political parties are, instead being influenced by Strasserism and favouring greater state control of the economy. Such extra-parliamentary groups often exhibit ritual or ceremonial practices to commemorate perceived past achievements of the right-wing, for instance by marking Adolf Hitler's birthday or the death date of Rudolf Hess. They are also associated with violent activities, with such violence often being utilised not just for political aims but also as an expressive and enjoyable activity.
There are also more intellectually-oriented radical right organisations which hold conferences and publish journals devoted to the promotion of scientific racism and Holocaust denial.Material promoting Holocaust denial is typically published in the United Kingdom or United States and then smuggled into continental Europe, where the publication of such material is widely illegal.
A 2015 study on modern populism by Kirk A. Hawkins of Brigham Young Universityused human coding to rate the level of perceived populist rhetoric in party manifestos and political speeches. Parties with high populism scores included the British National Party, the Swiss People's Party, the German NPD, the French National Front, the Belgian People's Party, the Spanish National Democracy, the Swedish Sweden Democrats, The Dutch PVV and Forum for Democracy.
The political scientists Robert Ford and Matthew Goodwin characterised the UK Independence Party as being on the radical right.
The Pim Fortuyn List was a right-wing populist political party in the Netherlands. The eponymous founder of the party was Pim Fortuyn, a former university professor and political columnist who initially had planned to contest the 2002 general election as leader of the Livable Netherlands (LN) party. He was however dismissed as party leader in February 2002 due to controversial remarks he made in a newspaper interview on immigration-related issues, and instead founded LPF a few days later. After gaining support in opinion polls, Fortuyn was assassinated on 6 May 2002, nine days before the election. The party held onto its support, and went on to become the second-largest party in the election.
Right-wing politics holds the view that certain social orders and hierarchies are inevitable, natural, normal, or desirable, typically supporting this position on the basis of natural law, economics, or tradition. Hierarchy and inequality may be viewed as natural results of traditional social differences or the competition in market economies. The term right-wing can generally refer to ’the conservative or reactionary section of a political party or system’.
Populism refers to a range of political stances that emphasise the idea of "the people" and often juxtapose this group against "the elite". The term developed in the 19th century and has been applied to various politicians, parties, and movements since that time, although it has rarely been chosen as a self-description. Within political science and other social sciences, several different definitions of populism have been employed, with some scholars proposing that the term be rejected altogether.
Vlaams Blok was the name of a Belgian far-right and secessionist political party with an anti-immigration platform. Its ideologies embraced Flemish nationalism, calling for the independence of Flanders. From its creation in 1978, it was the most notable militant right wing of the Flemish movement. Vlaams Blok's track record in the Flemish and Belgian parliament elections was strong. The election campaigns consisted mainly of the immigration and law-and-order theme, combined with the desire for Flemish autonomy.
Far-right politics are politics further on the right of the left–right spectrum than the standard political right, particularly in terms of extreme nationalism, nativist ideologies, and authoritarian tendencies.
The Centre Democrats was a political party in the Netherlands. Founded in 1984 by members who split out from the Centre Party (CP), the Centre Democrats was joined one month later by the only CP Member of Parliament—Hans Janmaat. Janmaat went on to become the leader of the party, which subsequently became strongly centered on his person. The newly formed Centre Democrats represented the more moderate faction of the Centre Party, but espoused an anti-immigration and nationalist ideology. Their claims of standing in the centre of the political landscape have thus been disputed by political scientists.
New Democracy was a political party in Sweden, founded in 1991 and elected into the Riksdag in its first election, falling equally fast out again in 1994. Following its exit from the Riksdag, New Democracy, however, continued its decline, which culminated in February 2000 when it was finally declared bankrupt, retaining only one city council post at the time. Numerous local fractions were reformed into minor parties, facing mixed success.
The Popular Orthodox Rally or People's Orthodox Alarm, often abbreviated to LAOS (ΛΑ.Ο.Σ.) as a pun on the Greek word for people, is a Greek radical right-wing populist political party. It was founded and is led by journalist Georgios Karatzaferis. Karatzaferis formed LAOS in 2000, a few months after he was expelled from the centre-right New Democracy.
Right-wing populism, also called national populism and right-wing nationalism, is a political ideology which combines right-wing politics and populist rhetoric and themes. The rhetoric often consists of anti-elitist sentiments, opposition to the perceived Establishment, and speaking to the "common people". Both right-wing populism and left-wing populism object to the perceived control of liberal democracies by elites; however, populism of the left also objects to the power of large corporations and their allies, while populism of the right normally supports strong controls on immigration.
In political science and sociology, a cleavage is a historically determined social or cultural line which divides citizens within a society into groups with differing political interests, resulting in political conflict among these groups. Social or cultural cleavages thus become political cleavages once they get politicized as such. Cleavage theory accordingly argues that political cleavages predominantly determine a country's party system as well as the individual voting behavior of citizens, dividing them into voting blocs. It is distinct from other common political theories on voting behavior in the sense that it focuses on aggregate and structural patterns instead of individual voting behaviors.
Cas Mudde is a Dutch political scientist who focuses on political extremism and populism in Europe and the United States. His research includes the areas of political parties, extremism, democracy, civil society and European politics.
Far-left politics are politics further to the left of the left–right political spectrum than the standard political left.
Left-wing populism, also called inclusionary populism and social populism, is a political ideology that combines left-wing politics and populist rhetoric and themes. Its rhetoric often consists of anti-elitist sentiments, opposition to the Establishment and speaking for the "common people". Important themes for left-wing populists usually include anti-capitalism, social justice, pacifism and anti-globalization whereas class society ideology or socialist theory is not as important as it is to traditional left-wing parties.
In United States politics, the radical right is a political preference that leans towards extreme conservatism, anti-socialism, and other right-wing beliefs in hierarchical structure. The term was first used by social scientists in the 1950s regarding small groups such as the John Birch Society in the United States and since then it has been applied to similar groups worldwide.
The Italian Social Movement, renamed in 1972 Italian Social Movement – National Right, was a neo-fascist and post-fascist political party in Italy.
Welfare chauvinism or Welfare state nationalism is a term used for the political notion that welfare benefits should be restricted to certain groups, particularly to the natives of a country as opposed to immigrants. It is used as an argumentation strategy by right-wing populist parties, which describes a rhetorical connection between the problems of the welfare state and, in essence, immigration, but also other social groups such as welfare recipients and the unemployed. The focus is placed on categorizing state residents in two extremes: the "nourishing" and "debilitating" and the contradiction between them in the competition for the society's scarce resources.
The social breakdown thesis is a theory that posits that individuals that are socially isolated — living in atomized, socially disintegrated societies — are particularly likely to support right-wing populist parties.
The reverse post-material thesis or reverse post-materialism thesis is an academic theory used to explain support for far-right political parties and right-wing populist political parties. The thesis is modelled on the post-material thesis from sociology that has been used to explain the shift in Western societies from traditional economic interests towards issues such as environmentalism and feminism.
Roger Eatwell is a British academic currently an Emeritus Professor of Politics at the University of Bath. Since the late 1970s Eatwell has engaged in research in fascism and populism. He defines fascism as a syncretic ideology, which could attract both the masses and intellectuals in some countries. It centered on three tropes: the need to create a holistic nation which transcended divisions; to forge a ‘New Man’ elite and people fervently committed to this nation, and to build an authoritarian third way state. Eatwell has sought to distinguish fascism from both historic and contemporary populism, which he sees as based on a very different three tropes: the need to respond to the popular will; a defence of the plain people; and a critique of self-serving liberal economic and political elites. In his most recent book on ‘national populism’, considerable emphasis is placed on four long run factors which are termed the ‘4Ds’: growing distrust of political elites in liberal democracies; growing fears about the destruction of national and local communities; growing concerns about relative deprivation and fears for the future; and growing dealignment from mainstream parties. Although Eatwell’s work on contemporary politics mainly focuses on parties which eschew violence, he has also written about the potential for ‘cumulative extremism’, namely where one form of violence sparks off another in a dangerous spiral – a train likely to grow if the current populist wave fades, leaving many even angrier.
During the 1990s New Zealand saw a growth in populism, a political movement that claims to work for the "people" rather than for the "1%" or for the "elite". The rise of populism in the country has been attributed to the introduction of the mixed-member proportional electoral system, as well as to the populist nature of election campaigns, such as that of the Labour Party in the lead-up to the 1999 election. The New Zealand First party, which has historically taken a nationalist standpoint, is categorised as a populist party.