Western Democracies and the New Extreme Right Challenge

By Roger Eatwell; Cas Mudde | Go to book overview
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Western Democracies and the New Extreme Right Challenge

Should democratic societies shun extreme right parties or treat them as ‘normal’ political parties? Is the solution to the extreme right challenge to be found in new laws banning ‘hate speech’ or individual parties? To what extent must we search beyond political and legal answers and focus on educational programmes and civil society responses?

For long periods, western democracy, especially its European form, seemed in danger of eclipse by a series of radical forces, most notably communism and fascism. Yet by the beginning of the 1990s, western democracy appeared destined to become the universal governmental norm. However, as we move into the new millennium there are growing signs that extremism is far from dead. In recent years, the extreme right has gathered notable support in many western countries, such as Austria, France and Italy. Racist violence, initially aimed at ‘immigrants’ is on the rise, and in the US - and increasingly in Europe - the state itself has become a major target. This book considers the varying trajectories of the ‘extreme right’ and ‘populist’ parties and focuses on the problems of responses to these trends, an issue which has hitherto been neglected in academic literature.

Based on extensive and original research, this work combines both nationally specific and comparative chapters to give a detailed picture of the new extreme right challenge in the western world. Its considered approach to the responses available to democratic governments will prove essential reading to students of European and American Politics and Law, and those more generally concerned with the future of democracy.

Roger Eatwell is Professor of European Politics at the University of Bath, and specializes in fascism and the contemporary extreme right.

Cas Mudde is Lecturer in Political Science at the University of Antwerp, and specializes in issues of extremism and democracy.

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