Extreme Right Parties in Western Europe

Extreme Right Parties in Western Europe

Extreme Right Parties in Western Europe

Extreme Right Parties in Western Europe

Synopsis

Comparative Politics is a series for students and teachers of political science that deals with contemporary issues in comparative government and politics. The General Editors are Max Kaase, Professor of Political Science, Vice President and Dean, School of Humanities and Social Science,International University Bremen, Germany; and Kenneth Newton, Professor of Comparative Politics, University of Southampton. The series is published in association with the European Consortium for Political Research. This book has three aims. First, it explores the extreme right in order to assess its ideological meaning and its political expression. Beginning with a discussion of the meaning and usefulness of the Left-Right distinction, it deals with the varying significance of the term 'right' and discussesthe appropriateness of the competing terms: 'radical', 'new', 'populist', and 'extreme right'. The book argues that the traditional neo-fascist party has been supplanted by a new type of extreme right party, unrelated to fascist ideology, but nevertheless opposed to the fundamental values of thedemocratic political system. The book's second aim is to carry out an in-depth analysis of the post-war evolution of the extreme right of each country in Western Europe. The analysis highlights their lineage from pre-war fascist regimes or movements, their different partisan expressions in thepost-war period, their ideological profile, their party's relationship with other actors in the party system, the socio-demographic and attitudinal profile of their voter-base, and the conditions which have favoured or inhibited their development. Finally, the book discusses in detail more recenttrends within the West European extreme right and outlines a conceptual framework for explaining the development of this 'political family' and the success or failure of each political party. The volume, extensively revised, expanded, and updated from its original widely acclaimed Italian edition, will be essential reading for all those working on parties and movements in Western Europe.

Excerpt

Until the 1980s the term extreme right was synonymous with that of neo-fascism. The reason was simple. The only relevant party which declared itself as representing the 'extreme right' up to then—the Italian Movimento Sociale Italiano (MSI) (Italian Social Movement—openly exhibited a direct lineage with pre-war fascism. At the same time, the other components of the neo-fascist political family all over Europe were very weak. The fate of neo-fascist parties was not reinvigorated by the passage from proto-fascist authoritarianism to democracy in Spain, Portugal, and Greece in mid-1970s. On the contrary, in these countries neo-fascism found such a limited audience as to be relegated to the status of the marginal fringe. The exclusion from mainstream politics and the limited, and even declining, electoral and organizational strength offered a gloomy perspective for the extreme right neo-fascist parties.

Everything changed in the 1980s. New parties emerged, older ones radically innovated themselves, and both gained unprecedented consent. The number of Western European extreme right parties which had entered the national or European parliament had passed from 6 at the beginning of the 1980s to 10 by the end of 1980s, then arriving at 15 in the mid-1990s. Their share of votes more than doubled by rising from 4.75 per cent in the decade 1980-9 to 9.73 per cent in 1990-9. In the 1980s, the extreme right made its breakthrough in six more countries: France, above all, gave real impetus to this political family with the Front National's resounding and sustained performances, capturing over 10 per cent of the popular vote; Austria, with the right-extremist turn of Haider's FPÖ; Belgium, with an (uneven) development in both linguistic parts (FN and Vlaams Blok); Germany, with the coming of the 'third wave' of right-extremism, which became a constant pain for the political system after the 1989 European election, even if it never broke into the Bundestag; the Netherlands, with a series of appearances and exits by the CD; Switzerland, whose right-extremism proliferated into various parties. The initial, albeit very limited, success of neo-fascist parties—in Spain with the Fuerza Nueva leader's Blas Piñar's election in 1979, and in Greece with the entry into national parliament by the EP in 1977 and into the European parliament by the EPEN in 1984—was not to be confirmed later on and the extreme right almost disappeared. The same is true for a new entry of right-extremism in the early 1990s, namely the NyD in Sweden, which vanished after a flamboyant appearance in 1991. Finally, only Finland, Great Britain, Ireland, and Portugal never elected a representative of an extreme right party in a nationwide election.

The extreme right has so far consolidated its presence all over Western Europe. The reason for this breakthrough, as discussed in the book, is multifaceted: from

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