Right-wing populism

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Right-wing populism is a political ideology that rejects existing political consensus and usually combines laissez-faire liberalism and anti-elitism. It is considered populism because of its appeal to the "common man" as opposed to the elites.[1]

From the 1990s right-wing populist parties became established in the legislatures of various democracies including Canada, Norway, France, Israel, Russia, Romania and Chile, and entered coalition governments in Switzerland, Austria, the Netherlands, New Zealand and Italy.[2] Although extreme right-wing movements in the US have been studied separately, where they are normally called "radical right", some writers consider them to be the same phenomenon.[3] Right-wing populism is distinct from the historic right, which had been concerned with preserving the "status quo", and mostly do not have roots in their political parties.[4]

Definition[edit]

Classification of right-wing populism into a single political family has proved difficult, and it is not certain whether a meaningful category exists, or merely a cluster of categories, since the parties differ in ideology, organization, and leadership rhetoric. Also, unlike traditional parties, they do not belong to international organizations of like-minded parties, and they do not use similar terms to describe themselves.[5] One commonality though is that they are more right-wing than other political parties on the left-right axis.[6]

Scholars use terminology inconsistently, sometimes referring to right-wing populism as "radical right" or other terms.[7] Pippa Norris noted that "standard reference works use alternate typologies and diverse labels categorising parties as 'far' or 'extreme' right, 'new right', 'anti-immigrant', 'neo-Nazi' or 'neofascist', 'antiestablishment', 'national populist', 'protest', 'ethnic', 'authoritarian', 'antigovernment', 'antiparty', 'ultranationalist', or 'neoliberal', 'libertarian' and so on".[8]

By country[edit]

European national parliaments with representatives from right-wing populist parties in 2014. In dark blue, those in government.

Piero Ignazi divided right-wing populist parties, which he called extreme right parties, into two categories: traditional right-wing parties that had developed out of the historic right and post-industrial parties that had developed independently. He placed the former Italian Social Movement, the Italian Tricolour Flame and Lega Nord the National Democratic Party of Germany, the German People's Union, the former Dutch Centre Party, the British National Party, and the Belgian Vlaams Blok in the first category. He placed the French National Front, the German Republicans, the Dutch Centre Democrats, the Belgian Front national, the Freedom Party of Austria, the Danish Progress Party, the Norwegian Progress Party, and the Swedish New Democracy in the second category.[9]

Right-wing populist parties in the English-speaking world include the UK Independence Party,[10] the former Reform Party of Canada,[11] Australia's One Nation,[12] and New Zealand First.[13]

Austria[edit]

The Austrian Freedom Party (FPÖ) established in 1955 traditionally represents the "Third Camp" (Drittes Lager), beside the Socialist Party and the social Catholic Austrian People's Party. It succeeded the Federation of Independents founded after World War II, adopting the pre-war heritage of German nationalism. Though it did not gain much popularity for decades, it exercised considerable balance of power by supporting several federal governments, be it right-wing or left-wing, e.g. the Socialist Kreisky cabinet of 1970 (see Kreisky–Peter–Wiesenthal affair).

From 1980, the Freedom Party adopted a more liberal stance. Upon the 1983 federal election it entered a coalition government with the Socialist Party, whereby party chairman Norbert Steger served as Vice-Chancellor. The liberal interlude however ended, when Jörg Haider was elected chairman in 1986. By his down-to-earth manners and patriotic attitude, Haider re-integrated the party's nationalist base voters. Nevertheless, he was also able to obtain votes from large sections of population disenchanted with politics by publicly denouncing corruption and nepotism of the Austrian Proporz system. The electoral success was boosted by Austria's accession to the EU in 1995.

Upon the 1999 federal election the Freedom Party with 26.9% of the votes cast became the second strongest party in the National Council parliament. Having entered a coalition government with the People's Party, Haider had to face the disability of several FPÖ ministers, but also the impossibility to agitate against the own cabinet. In 2005 he finally countered the Freedom Party's loss of reputation by the Alliance for the Future of Austria (BZÖ) relaunch in order to carry on the government. The remaining FPÖ members elected Heinz-Christian Strache chairman; since the 2006 federal election both right-wing parties have run separately. After Haider was killed in a car accident in 2008, the BZÖ has lost a measurable amount of support.

Belgium[edit]

Flag used by the now-defunct Vlaams Blok, representing the flag of Flanders (top), and historical flag of the Netherlands (bottom).

Vlaams Blok, established in 1978, operated on a platform of law and order, anti-immigration (with particular focus on Islamic immigration), and secession of the Flanders region of the country. The secession was originally planned to end in the annexation of Flanders by the culturally and linguistically similar Netherlands until the plan was abandoned due to the multiculturalism in that country. In the elections to the Flemish Parliament in June 2004, the party received 24.15% of the vote, within less than 2% of being the largest party.[14] However, in November of the same year, the party was ruled illegal under anti-racism law for, among other things, advocating schools segregated between citizens and immigrants.[15]

In less than a week, the party was re-established under the name Vlaams Belang, with a near-identical ideology. It advocates for immigrants wishing to stay to adopt the Flemish culture and language.[16] Despite some accusations of anti-Semitism from Belgium's Jewish population, the party has demonstrated a staunch pro-Israel stance as part of its opposition to Islam.[17] With 18 of 124 seats, Vlaams Belang lead the opposition in the Flemish Parliament,[18] and also have 11 of the 150 seats in the Belgian House of Representatives.[19]

Cyprus[edit]

The ELAM (National People's Front) (Εθνικό Λαϊκό Μέτωπο) was formed in 2008 on the platform of maintaining Cypriot identity, opposition to further European integration, immigration, and the status quo that remains due to Turkey's invasion of a third of the island (and the international community's lack of intention to solve the issue).

Denmark[edit]

In the early 1970s, the home of the strongest right wing-populist party in Europe was in Denmark, the Progress Party.[20] In the 1973 election it received almost 16% of the vote.[21] In the years following its support dwindled away, but was replaced by the Danish People's Party in the 1990s, which has gone on to be an important support party for the governing Liberal-Conservative coalition in the 2000s (decade).[22]

Germany[edit]

Franz Schönhuber on a Republikaner 1989 European election poster

So far, all attempts by right-wing populist parties to enter the national Bundestag parliament have failed. Instead, populist positions are successfully represented by the left-wing The Left party. All right-wing populist parties have to face the problem of differentiation regarding far-right politics discredited by Nazism.

Nevertheless, on a regional level, right-wing populist movements like Pro NRW and Citizens in Rage (Bürger in Wut, BIW) sporadically attract some support. In 1989 the Republicans (Die Republikaner) led by Franz Schönhuber entered the Abgeordnetenhaus of Berlin and achieved more than 7% of the German votes cast in the 1989 European election, with six seats in the European Parliament. The party also won seats in the Landtag of Baden-Württemberg twice in 1992 and 1996; after 2000 however, the Republicans' support eroded in favour of the far-right German People's Union and the National Democratic Party of Germany (NPD), which in the 2009 federal election held 1.5% of the popular vote (winning up to 9% in regional Landtag parliamentary elections).

In 2005, a nation-wide Pro Germany Citizens' Movement (pro Deutschland) was founded in Cologne. The pro movement appears as a conglomerate of numerous small parties, voters' associations and societies, distinguishing themselves by campaigns against Islamic extremism[23] and Muslim immigrants. Its representatives claim a zero tolerance policy and the combat of corruption. With the denial of a multiethnic society (Überfremdung) and the evocation of an alleged islamization, the pro politics extend to far-right positions. Other minor right-wing populist parties include the German Freedom Party founded in 2010, the former East German German Social Union (DSU), the dissolved Law and Order Offensive Party (Schill Party), and temporarily the Statt Party.

Greece[edit]

The Golden Dawn has grown significantly in Greece during the country's economic downturn, gaining 7% of the vote and 18 out of 300 seats in the Hellenic Parliament. The party's ideology includes annexation of territory in Albania and Turkey, including the Turkish cities of Istanbul and Izmir.[24] Controversial measures by the party included a poor people's kitchen in Athens which only supplied for Greek citizens and was shut down by the police.[25]

The Popular Orthodox Rally is not represented in the Greek legislature, but supplies 2 of the country's 22 MEPS. It supports anti-globalisation and lower taxes for small businesses, as well as opposition to Turkish accession to the European Union and the Republic of Macedonia's use of the name Macedonia, as well as immigration only for Europeans.[26]

Italy[edit]

Members of the Lega Nord in the annual meeting of Pontida.

In Italy, right-wing populism is represented mainly by the Lega Nord,[27] a federalist and regionalist political party in Italy founded in 1991 as a federation of several regional parties of Northern and Central Italy, most of which had arisen and expanded their share of the electorate over the 1980s.

The party came to power in alliance with Silvio Berlusconi in 1994. This time the Lega Nord gained the 8.4% of votes. In 2000 the party re-joined forces with Berlusconi's coalition, previous disagreements notwithstanding. In 2001–2006 the Lega Nord, although being severely reduced in its parliamentary representation, controlled three key ministries: Justice, Labour & Social Affairs, and Institutional Reforms and Devolution. In 2008 the Lega Nord ran in the elections in coalition with the The People of Freedom (Berlusconi's party) and the Movement for Autonomy, gaining 8.3% of the vote and obtaining 60 deputies and 26 senators. In 2013 general election, the Lega Nord gained 4.1% of votes, supporting the Centre-right Coalition led by Berlusconi, and it obtained 18 deputies and 18 senators.

The Lega Nord's political program advocates the transformation of Italy into a federal state, fiscal federalism and greater regional autonomy, especially for the Northern regions. At times it has advocated the secession of the North, which it calls Padania. The Lega Nord also fights for the implementation of stricter rules and laws in order to contrast the expansion of Islam into Europe. It is opposed to Turkish membership of the European Union and is considered one of the eurosceptic movements. It also emphasizes the fight against illegal immigration.

Following the 2009 European election the Lega Nord joined the newly formed Europe of Freedom and Democracy (EFD) group, with other European Right-wing political parties.

Another Italian right-wing populist party is the neo-fascist The Right (La Destra), led by Francesco Storace. It was founded in 2007 and in the general election on the following year The Right gained 2.4% of votes but it did not succeeded in taking some seats in the Parliament. In the 2013 general election, The Right had been an ally of Berlusconi's Centre-right Coalition, gaining 0.7% of votes and no seats.

In addition to the Lega Nord and The Right there is also New Force (Forza Nuova) of Roberto Fiore, an ultranationalist, neo-fascist movement which is strongly against immigration and LGBT rights. New Force's best result in general elections was in 2006 when it gained 255,353 votes with 0.67%. In the 2009 European election, New Force succeeded in electing a deputy in the European Parliament and Roberto Fiore became the first member of the European National Front to be elected in the Parliament. In 2013 last election FN gained only 0.26% of votes.

Netherlands[edit]

In the Netherlands, right-wing populism won a minor representation in the 150-seat House of Representatives in 1982, when the Centre Party won a single seat. During the 1990s, a splinter party, the Centre Democrats, was slightly more successful, although its significance was still marginal. Not before 2002 did a party considered right-wing populist break through in the Netherlands, when the Pim Fortuyn List won 26 seats and subsequently formed a coalition with the VVD and CDA. Fortuyn, who had strong views against immigration, particularly from Muslims, was assassinated in May 2002, two weeks before the election.[28] The coalition broke up already in 2003, and the party went into steep decline until it was dissolved.

Since 2006, the Party for Freedom (PVV) has been represented in the House of Representatives. Following the 2010 general election, it has been in a pact with the right-wing minority government of VVD and CDA after it won 24 seats in the House of Representatives. The party is Eurosceptic and plays a leading role in the changing stance of the Dutch government towards European integration, as they came second in the 2009 European Parliament election, winning 4 out of 25 seats. The party's main programme revolves around strong criticism of Islam, but broadened to all other fields as the party grew to its semi-governmental state. The PVV withdrew its support for the Rutte Cabinet in 2012 after refusing to support austerity measures. This triggered the 2012 general election in which the PVV was reduced to 15 seats and excluded from the new government.

Norway[edit]

The Norwegian Progress Party (FrP) is commonly considered a right-wing populist party.[29][30] From 2001 to 2005, the party tolerated Kjell Magne Bondevik's centre-right minority government. In the 1997, 2005, and 2009 parliamentary elections, the FrP was the second-largest Norwegian party by votes.

Poland[edit]

The Congress of the New Right, led by Janusz Korwin-Mikke, is the largest right-wing populist party in Poland, but has no representation in national or European legislature. Its policies are mainly centred on lower taxes rather than the immigration issues highlighted by other right-wing populist parties in Europe.

Switzerland[edit]

In Switzerland, the right-wing populist Swiss People's Party reached an all-time high in the 2007 elections. The party has variously been identified as "extreme right"[31] and "radical right-wing populist",[32] reflecting a spectrum of ideologies present among its members. In its far right wing, it includes extremist members such as Ulrich Schlüer, Pascal Junod, who heads a 'New Right' study group and has been linked to Holocaust denial and neo-Nazism.[33][34] In Switzerland, radical right populist parties held close to 10% of the popular vote in 1971, were reduced to below 2% by 1979, and again grew to more than 10% in 1991. Since 1991, these parties (the Swiss Democrats and the Swiss Freedom Party) have been absorbed by the Swiss People's Party, whose aggressively right-wing, populist campaign catapulted it to 29% of the popular vote in 2007, the highest vote ever recorded for a single party throughout Swiss parliamentary history.

United Kingdom[edit]

Nigel Farage, leader of and MEP for the right-wing populist UK Independence Party.

The largest right-wing populist party in the United Kingdom is the UK Independence Party (UKIP). Advocating an exit from the European Union and a five-year moratorium on immigration, UKIP, who do not have representation in United Kingdom's House of Commons, are the UK's most popular party, achieving a 27% favourable rating in polls conducted by both the Independent and the Daily Mirror.[35][36] The UK's governing Conservative Party has seen defections to UKIP over European Union and immigration debate, as well as the David Cameron's positive stance on same-sex marriage. [37]

United States[edit]

Moore (1996) argues that "populist opposition to the growing power of political, economic, and cultural elites" helped shape "conservative and right-wing movements" since the 1920s.[38] The Tea Party movement of 2009–present had been characterized as "a right-wing anti-systemic populist movement" by Rasmussen and Schoen (2010). They add, "Today our country is in the midst of a...new populist revolt that has emerged overwhelmingly from the right -- manifesting itself as the Tea Party movement."[39] The New York Times reports, "The Tea Party movement has become a platform for conservative populist discontent".[40]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Betz and Immerfall, p. 4-5
  2. ^ Norris (2004), p. 2
  3. ^ Kaplan & Weinberg, pp. 1-2
  4. ^ Kaplan & Weinberg, pp. 10-13
  5. ^ Norris (2005), pp. 43-44
  6. ^ Ware, pp. 41-42
  7. ^ Kaplan & Weinberg, pp. 10-11
  8. ^ Norris (2005), p. 44
  9. ^ Ignazi, p. 26
  10. ^ Norris (2005), p. 72
  11. ^ Norris (2005), p. 70
  12. ^ Norris (2005), p. 68
  13. ^ Norris(2005), p. 69
  14. ^ http://polling2004.belgium.be/en/vla/results/results_graph_etop.html
  15. ^ http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/3994867.stm
  16. ^ http://www.vlaamsbelang.org/files/20041212_programma.pdf
  17. ^ http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/news/far-right-belgian-party-vlaams-belang-says-invited-to-jerusalem-meet-1.259364
  18. ^ http://www.vlaamsparlement.be/vp/index.html
  19. ^ http://www.dekamer.be/kvvcr/showpage.cfm?section=/depute&language=fr&rightmenu=right_depute&cfm=cvlist53.cfm?sorttype=group&legis=53
  20. ^ Jens Rydgren. "Explaining the Emergence of Radical Right-Wing Populist Parties: The Case of Denmark" West European Politics, Vol. 27, No. 3, May 2004, pp. 474–502."
  21. ^ Givens, Terri E. (2005). Voting radical right in Western Europe. Cambridge University. pp. 136–139. ISBN 978-0-521-85134-3. 
  22. ^ "Head of Danish Populist Party to Resign". Associated Press. 8 August 2012. Retrieved 8 August 2012. 
  23. ^ "Salafists and Right-Wing Populists Battle in Bonn". Spiegel. 5 July 2012. 
  24. ^ http://www.todayszaman.com/newsDetail_getNewsById.action?newsId=283673
  25. ^ http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/greece/10034010/Golden-Dawns-Greeks-only-soup-kitchen-ends-in-chaos.html
  26. ^ http://www.laos.gr/PROGRAM_LAOS.pdf
  27. ^ Der Spiegel
  28. ^ http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/1971883.stm
  29. ^ Nicholas Kulish (July 23, 2011). "Norway Attacks Put Spotlight on Rise of Right-Wing Sentiment in Europe". New York Times. 
  30. ^ Pierre-Henry Deshayes (September 13, 2009). "Norway's government fights for survival". Sydney Morning Herald. 
  31. ^ P. Ignazi, Extreme Right Parties in Western Europe, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006, p. 234
  32. ^ H-G Betz, 'Xenophobia, Identity Politics and Exclusionary Populism in Western Europe', L. Panitch & C. Leys (eds.), Socialist Register 2003 - Fighting Identities: Race, Religion and Ethno-nationalism, London: Merlin Press, 2002, p. 198
  33. ^ Antisemitism and Racism in Switzerland 2000-1
  34. ^ Antisemitism and Racism in Switzerland 1999-2000
  35. ^ http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/ukip-tops-independent-on-sunday-poll-as-the-nations-favourite-party-9069625.html
  36. ^ http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/poll-says-labour-still-course-3036358
  37. ^ http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/ukip/10067592/Tories-begin-defecting-to-Ukip-over-loons-slur.html
  38. ^ Leonard J. Moore, "Good Old-Fashioned New Social History and the Twentieth-Century American Right," Reviews in American History vol 24#4 (1996) pp 555-573, quote at p. 561
  39. ^ Scott Rasmussen and Doug Schoen, Mad As Hell: How the Tea Party Movement Is Fundamentally Remaking Our Two-Party System (2010) quotes on p. 19
  40. ^ David Barstow, "Tea Party Lights Fuse for Rebellion on Right," New York Times Feb 6, 2010

Further reading[edit]

References[edit]

  • Berlet, Chip and Matthew N. Lyons. 2000. Right-Wing Populism in America: Too Close for Comfort. New York: Guilford Press. ISBN 1-57230-568-1, ISBN 1-57230-562-2
  • Betz, Hans-Georg. Radical right-wing populism in Western Europe. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 1994 ISBN 0-312-08390-4
  • Betz, Hans-Georg and Immerfall, Stefan. The New Politics of the Right: Neo-Populist Parties and Movements in Established Democracies. Houndsmill, Basingstoke, Hampshire, UK: Macmillan Press Ltd., 1998 ISBN 032213387, 9780312213381
  • Fritzsche, Peter. 1990. Rehearsals for Fascism: Populism and Political Mobilization in Weimar Germany. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-505780-5
  • Ignazi, Piero. "The extreme right: defining the object and assessing the causes". In Martin Schain, Aristide R. Zolberg, Patrick Hossay (Eds.), Shadows over Europe: the development and impact of the extreme right in Western Europe. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2002. ISBN 0-312-29593-6
  • Kaplan, Jeffrey and Weinberg, Leonard. The emergence of a Euro-American radical right. NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1998 ISBN 0-8135-2564-0
  • Norris, Pippa, "The Right in Elections" Paper in APSA Panel 36-15 at the Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association, 2004, Chicago.
  • Norris, Pippa. Radical right: voters and parties in the electoral market. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2005. ISBN 0-521-84914-4
  • Ware, Alan. Political Parties and Party Systems. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996. ISBN 0-19-878076-1