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Populist and Radical Politics: Between Polarisation and Blurring

Comparative Politics
Extremism
Political Parties
Populism
Social Movements
S44
Andrea L. P. Pirro
Scuola Normale Superiore
Matthijs Rooduijn
University of Amsterdam
Stijn van Kessel
Loughborough University

Endorsed by the ECPR Standing Group on Extremism and Democracy


Abstract

The consolidation of populist and radical organisations across Europe can be rightfully considered a fait accompli. By now, many of these parties have sustained their presence in national parliaments as well as in the European Parliament, suggesting that their responses to the political mainstream represent an intrinsic feature of contemporary democracies. This view is partly confirmed by recent research, which has progressively ceased to interpret these political organisations as a mere ‘flash in the pan’, but rather a consequence of the unaccountability of established politics. Accordingly, the focus is increasingly less on the reasons behind their emergence, and more on their ideology and voters. In other words, what matters is how well or poorly these parties fare at elections and why – often tackling these questions through the interaction of a demand-side and a supply-side in the electoral market. The appeal and resilience of these phenomena has however come to raise a number of theoretical and substantive concerns. Whilst populist and radical parties of the left and right have been responsible for the politicisation and/or mainstreaming of a number of issues (e.g. environmentalism, civil rights, immigration, ethnic minorities, Euroscepticism, etc.), the issues at the core of their ideology are no longer exclusive entitlement of these organisations. What we could observe, then, is a concomitant process of polarisation and blurring of national politics. On the one hand, parties that were once marginal surged to the level of credible agenda-setters; in turn, mainstream parties are now compelled to elaborate on their issues, or even co-opt them. Through their impact, populist and radical parties may have then contributed to polarise national politics. On the other hand, these parties have expanded on their trademark issues and it is not uncommon to find populist and radical parties of either camp sharing views on social, economic, and cultural issues. Therefore, it is possible to claim that also traditional distinctions between radical left and radical right politics are blurring. The section seeks to bring together conceptual and empirical contributions on parties and party systems, elections and voters, as well as social movements and protests, willing to improve our understanding of the following topics: a) The radicalisation of the mainstream; b) The mainstreaming or ‘race to the extremes’ of populist and radical organisations; c) Political impact of populist and radical organisations; d) Polarisation of party systems and political debates; e) Blurring of ideologies and attitudes. We will consider panel and paper proposals from different subdisciplines and with different methodological approaches. In a broad comparative spirit, however, we welcome submissions with a pan-European scope. We also seek to overcome, inasmuch as possible, the artificial gap between qualitative and quantitative approaches; therefore, submissions with a mixed-method approach are strongly encouraged.
Code Title Details
P023 Cases of Populism in Contemporary Europe View Panel Details
P144 Filling the Empty Quadrant? View Panel Details
P234 Mixing and Matching, Blurring and Emulating? Theories and Methodologies to Explore Radical Right Politics beyond the Electoral Arena View Panel Details
P262 Polarisation or Blurring Ideologies? The Radical Left during the Great Recession View Panel Details
P286 Populist Attitudes in Contemporary Democracies View Panel Details
P287 Populist Discourses in German Speaking Countries - Emergent Anti-Semitism and Anti-Muslim Racism among Minorities and Majorities? View Panel Details
P288 Populist Parties in Europe: Revisiting Discourse and Electoral Potential View Panel Details
P295 Recent Work and Future Research Directions on Populism and the Radical Right in Europe View Panel Details
P327 The Eurosceptic Turn and its Impact on European Democracy and Governance View Panel Details
P333 The Impact of Populist Parties on Attitudes and Political Behavior View Panel Details
P340 Responses to 'Extremists' View Panel Details
P381 The Radical Right and its Impact: Party Competition and Policy Effects in Comparative Perspective View Panel Details