Members of the far-right radical group Praviy Sektor (Right Sector) and their supporters attend an anti-government rally in central Kyiv, Ukraine on July 21, 2015.

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Populist Radical Right

Different labels such as ‘extreme right’, ‘far right’ and ‘populist radical right’ (PRR) are used interchangeably to refer to the same organizations, such as the French Front National (FN), Austrian Freedom Party (FPÖ) and Flemish Bloc/Flemish Interest (VB), according to an article written by Tim Immerzeel and Jasper Muis. A consensus has emerged that they constitute one single family. Meanwhile, Cas Mudde have been using the term “populist radical right” in an article for a core ideology that combines nativism, authoritarianism, and populism. According to Mudde, most studies focus largely on the same parties and ideological core, even if they use different terms and definitions.

According to an article jointly written by Katy Brown, Aaron Winter and Aurelien Mondon, while much of the media has been happy to settle for the terms ‘populism’, ‘populist’ and ‘populist parties’, the picture is somewhat different for academics. In 2007, Mudde, one of the foremost experts in the field of populism and political extremism, rightly warned that such parties should be called ‘populist radical right’ as opposed to ‘radical right populist’, as the latter would put the emphasis on populism (a secondary characteristic) away from radical right. However, this nuance appears to have been lost on many, feeding the growing hype about populism, and avoiding the careful work done by many others on typology and terminology, as well as rigorous analysis, over the years.

Mudde writes that establishing boundaries between populist radical right parties and mainstream right-wing parties has been significantly complicated by the rise of populist radical right politics in Europe, i.e. nativist, authoritarian, and populist discourses and policies from mostly mainstream parties. For example, he says, as a consequence of the political debates around the Eurozone crisis and refugee crisis in 2015, it is almost impossible to use Euroscepticism and opposition to immigration as ideological features/policy positions that set populist radical right parties apart from mainstream (right-wing) parties. “And if scholars insist on including West European borderline parties such as the FrP and UKIP, then how can they exclude much more radical East Central European parties like Fidesz- Hungarian Civic Alliance in Hungary and Law and Justice (PiS) in Poland?” he asks.

To Mudde, the proliferation of populist radical right parties has made this group of parties larger and more heterogeneous. According to him: i) There are substantial differences in terms of ideology. In the broad approach, used in particular by many quantitative scholars, populist radical right parties include the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn in Greece as well as neoliberal populists like the FrP and UKIP and everything in between. ii) There are important differences in origins; some populist radical right parties are radicalized mainstream parties (like FPÖ and SVP) while others are moderated extremist parties (like Sweden Democrats). iii) The parties differ in terms of longevity and stability: National Front (FN) was founded almost 45 years ago and has been a relatively stable feature of French politics since the mid-1980s, Dutch List Pim Fortuyn (LPR) and the LPR were mere flash parties, while Alternative for Germany (AfD) and Dawn of Direct Democracy (now Dawn-National Coalition) in the Czech Republic are less than a decade old. iv) Here is a significant variety in terms of organization, from the one-member PVV of Geert Wilders, through modern cadre parties like the Sweden Democrats (SD) and DF, to more traditional mass parties like the FN and FPÖ.

According to Immerzeel and Muis, the most important common denominator of the populist radical right parties is their nativist stance. This exclusionist, ethno-nationalist notion of citizenship is reflected in the slogan ‘own people first’. The authors say that the label ‘radical’ refers to the non-centrist, outspoken position at the far end of the political spectrum on issues related to immigration and ethnic diversity. Since they strongly hold issue-ownership over immigration issues some scholars simply refer to the PRR as anti-immigration parties.

Second, PRR groups share their populist, anti-establishment rhetoric. Third, authoritarianism implies stressing themes like law and order and traditional values. Relatedly, PRR groups favor strong leaders who reflect ‘the will of the people’.

The scholars remind the opinions about radical right populism endangers some of the constitutional foundations of liberal democracies: pluralism and the protection of minorities. At the same, however, scholars agree that it distinguishes itself from political extremism, in the sense that PRR supporters and activists respect democracy, whereas extremist groups go beyond the limits of the procedures which define the democratic political processes.

Meanwhile, according to an article written jointly by Anders Backlund and Ann-Cathrine Jungar, populist radical right parties voice a populist critique of representative democracy by stating that the political representatives are unresponsive to the voters and turn a blind eye to the beliefs and preferences of ordinary people. The populist promise, by contrast, is the resurrection of the popular will by overcoming the distance between the representatives and the represented.

On the other hand, Backlund and Jungar say, while populist radical right parties are sometimes described as ‘protest parties’, empirical research has shown that voters primarily cast their ballots for the radical right in order to be represented in terms of policy, most notably opposition to immigration. “The combination of economically neoliberal and socio-culturally authoritarian policies was an electorally successful strategy for the radical right, there has been scholarly debate on which programmatic appeals constitute a ‘winning formula’,” they said.

Read More

Radical right populism — J Muis, T Immerzeel; Sociopedia. isa (e-journal)

Differently Eurosceptic: radical right populist parties and their supporters — Mcdonnell, Duncan; Werner, Annika; Journal of European Public Policy, 02 December 2019, Vol.26(12), pp.1761-1778.

Rydgren, J. 2003. “Meso-level Reasons for Racism and Xenophobia: Some Converging and Divergent Effects of Radical Right Populism in France and Sweden.” European Journal of Social Theory 6(1): 45-68.

Rydgren, J. 2002. “Radical Right Populism in Sweden: Still a Failure, But for How Long?” Scandinavian Political Studies 25(1): 27-56.

“Comparing radical right populism in Estonia and Latvia”. In R.Wodak et. al (eds), Right Wing Populism Across/Beyond Europe. London: Bloomsbury Academic Press. (With Andres Kasekamp) 2013.

Liang, Christina Schori (ed.) Europe for the Europeans: The Foreign and Security Policy of the Populist Radical Right (London: Ashgate Publishing, 2007), 318 p.

The Populist Radical Right: A Reader. London: Routledge, 2017, 642 pp.

Three decades of populist radical right parties in Western Europe: So what?.(Report) — Mudde, Cas, European Journal of Political Research, Jan, 2013, Issue 1, p.(1).

The Populist Radical Right: A Pathological Normalcy — Mudde, Cas; West European Politics, 01 November 2010, Vol.33(6), pp.1167-1186.

Populist Radical Right Parties in Europe Redux — Mudde, Cas; Political Studies Review, September 2009, Vol.7(3), pp.330-337.

Spierings, Niels, Andrej Zaslove, Liza M. Mügge & Sarah L. de Lange (2015) ‘Gender and Populist Radical Right Politics,’ Patterns of Prejudice 49 (1/2): 3-15.

The European Mainstream, the Populist Radical Right, and the (alleged) lack of a restrictive alternative,” (2017), Eve Hepburn & Pontus Odmalm, in Odmalm, P and Hepburn, E. (eds.) The European Mainstream and the Populist Radical Right (Routledge).

Pytlas, Bartek (2018): “Populist Radical Right Mainstreaming and Challenges to Democracy in an Enlarged Europe“. In: Herman, L./Muldoon, J. (eds.): Trumping the Mainstream. The Conquest of Democratic Politics by the Populist Radical Right. Abingdon: Routledge, 164-185.

Immerzeel, Tim and Mark Pickup. 2015. “Populist Radical Right Parties Mobilizing ‘the People’? The Role of Populist Radical Right Success in Voter Turnout.” Electoral Studies 40: 347-360. DOI:10.1016/j.electstud.2015.10.007

The European Mainstream and the Populist Radical Right, (2017), co-edited by Pontus Odmalm & Eve Hepburn, Routledge.

Rooduijn, Matthijs (2015) The rise of the populist radical right in Western Europe. European View, 14(1): 3-11.

Akkerman, A., A. Zaslove, B. Spruyt (2017): “We the People” or “We the Peoples”? A Comparison of Support for the Populist Radical Right and Populist Radical Left in the Netherlands. Swiss Political Science Review, (doi:10.1111/spsr.12275) – TOR 2017/22.

“New populist parties in western Europe,” Taggart P., The Populist Radical Right: A Reader, 2016, 159-171.

Harteveld, E., Dahlberg, S., Kokkonen, A., & van der Brug, W. (2019). Social Stigma and Support for the Populist Radical Right: An Experimental study. Scandinavian Political Studies42(3-4), 296 – 307.

van Heerden, S. C., & van der Brug, W. (2017). Demonisation and electoral support for populist radical right parties: A temporary effect. Electoral Studies47, 36-45. 

A. Pirro and S. van Kessel (2017) ‘United in opposition? The populist radical right’s EU-pessimism in times of crisis’, Journal of European Integration, 39 (4), 405-420.

Eager to leave? Populist radical right parties’ responses to the UK’s Brexit vote — van Kessel, Stijn; Chelotti, Nicola; Drake, Helen; Roch, Juan; Rodi, Patricia; The British Journal of Politics and International Relations, February 2020, Vol.22(1), pp.65-84.

Webb, Paul and Bale, Tim (2014). Why do tories defect to UKIP? Conservative party members and the temptations of the populist radical right. Political Studies, 62 (4). pp. 961-970. ISSN 0032-3217

“Equivocal Euroscepticism: How populist radical right parties can have their EU cake and eat it.” Journal of Common Market Studies, Reinhard Heinisch, Duncan McDonnell, Annika Werner.

Who do populist radical right parties stand for? Representative claims, claim acceptance and descriptive representation in the Austrian FPÖ and German AfD.” Annika Werner, Reinhard Heinisch, Representation, 55(4): 475-492, first published online 16.07.2019.

The Breakthrough of Another West European Populist Radical Right Party? The Case of the True Finns; Arter, David;Government and Opposition September 2010, 45(4):484-504, DOI: 10.1111/j.1477-7053.2010.01321.x

Webb, P. and Bale, T. (2014), Why Do Tories Defect to UKIP? Conservative Party Members and the Temptations of the Populist Radical Right. Political Studies. doi: 10.1111/1467-9248.12130

Gruber, Oliver and Bale Tim (2014) And it’s good night Vienna. How (not) to deal with the populist radical right: The Conservatives, UKIP and some lessons from the heartland. British Politics, 9, pp. 237–254.

Bale, Tim (2012) ‘Supplying the Insatiable Demand: Europe’s Populist Radical Right,’ Government and Opposition, 47 (2), pp. 256–274.

Kasekamp, Andres & Madisson, Mari-Liis & Wierenga, Louis. (2018). Discursive Opportunities for the Estonian Populist Radical Right in a Digital Society. Problems of Post-Communism. 1-12. 10.1080/10758216.2018.1445973.

Gründl, J., & Aichholzer, J. Support for the Populist Radical Right: Between Uncertainty Avoidance and Risky Choice. Political Psychology. [3.175].

Rooduijn, Matthijs (2014) “Vox Populismus: A Populist Radical Right Attitude Among the Public?” Nations and Nationalism, 20(1): 80-92.

Moffitt, B. (2017) ‘Liberal Illiberalism? The Reshaping of the Contemporary Populist Radical Right in Northern Europe‘, Politics and Governance,vol. 5, no. 4, pp. 112-122.

Revisiting the Inclusion-Moderation Thesis on Radical Right Populism: Does Party Leadership Matter? — Laurent Bernhard, Politics and Governance, 01 March 2020, Vol.8(1), pp.206-216.

Castanho Silva, Bruno. 2018. “Populist Radical Right Parties and Mass Polarization in the Netherlands.” European Political Science Review 10(2): 219–244.

Populist Politics and the Politics of ‘Populism’: The Radical Right in Western Europe; De Cleen, B., Glynos, J. & Mondon, A., 2020, (Accepted/In press) Embodying the People: Populist Identification in Global Perspective. Ostiguy, P., Moffitt, B. & Panizza, F. (eds.). Routledge, (Conceptualising Comparative Politics).

How the populist radical right delegitimizes critical journalists: a discourse-theoretical analysis of Vlaams Blok/Belang rhetoric about the media (1978-2013), De Cleen, B., 3 Sep 2014, CADAAD Conference. Budapest.

Protecting women from Islamisation: a discursive perspective on the Flemish populist radical right’s use of women’s rights in anti-Islamic rhetoric; De Cleen, B., 8 May 2014, Unknown. Asbl, L. T. D. L. M. (ed.). Liège

Bos, L., Sheets, P., & Boomgaarden, H. G. (2017). The Role of Implicit Attitudes in Populist Radical Right Support. Political Psychology. doi: 10.1111/pops.12401

The Populist Radical Right and the Media in the Benelux: Friend or Foe? — de Jonge, Léonie; The International Journal of Press/Politics, April 2019, Vol.24(2), pp.189-209.

Daenekindt, Stijn, Willem de Koster, and Jeroen van der Waal; ‘How People Organize Cultural Attitudes: Cultural Belief Systems and the Populist Radical Right.’ West EuropeanPolitics40(4), 791-811.

Akkerman, T., de Lange, S. L., & Rooduijn, M. (2016). Inclusion and mainstreaming?: Radical right-wing populist parties in the new millennium. In T. Akkerman, S. L. de Lange, & M. Rooduijn (Eds.), Radical right-wing populist parties in Western Europe: into the mainstream? (pp. 1-28). (Extremism and democracy). London: Routledge.

Akkerman, T., de Lange, S. L., & Rooduijn, M. (2016). Into the mainstream? A comparative analysis of the programmatic profiles of radical right-wing populist parties in Western Europe over time. In T. Akkerman, S. L. de Lange, & M. Rooduijn (Eds.), Radical right-wing populist parties in Western Europe: into the mainstream? (pp. 31-52). (Extremism and democracy). London: Routledge. 

de Lange, S. L. (2012). New alliances: why mainstream parties govern with radical right-wing populist parties. Political Studies60(4), 899-918.

“Hungary’s New Radical Right: Populist Outbidding, Democratic Backsliding, and the Fidesz-Jobbik Convergence” András Bozóki and Sarah Cueva in Hans Asenbaum, Felix Jaitner, Tina Olteanu & Tobias Spöri eds. (2017) Osteuropa transformiert: Sozialismus, Demokratie und Utopie [Eastern Europe transformed: Socialism, Democracy and Utopia].Opladen: Barbara Budrich (forthcoming).

“The Electoral Success of Radical Right in Europe: Why are the Radical Right better at “capitalizing” on Populism than the Radical Left?”, with James F. Downes, Public Seminar of The New School for Social Research,August 2018, online at:

“Why have the Populist Radical Right outperformed the Populist Radical Left in Europe?”, with James F. Downes, London School of Economics – European Policies and Politics Blog,August 2018, online at: