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Gendering the European Parliament

Not so Eager to Leave: Populist Radical Right Parties’ Responses to Brexit

Comparative Politics
European Politics
Stijn van Kessel
Queen Mary, University of London
Stijn van Kessel
Queen Mary, University of London

This paper considers the reactions of parties of the populist radical right (PRR) to Brexit. As defenders of their native cultures and national sovereignty, PRR parties are naturally Eurosceptic; they, for instance, distrust the drive towards supranationalism and lament the free movement of people within the single market. The British referendum vote was logically hailed by many PRR parties as a victory for ordinary people against unresponsive Europhile elites, a rejection of the undemocratic and technocratic decision-making process at the European level, and a shining example of a country regaining its sovereignty. Several demanded a similar referendum in their home countries. One would expect that the British referendum vote also became a source of inspiration for PRR parties’ national election campaigns. Based on an analysis of these parties’ discourses in the run-up to elections in the Netherlands, France, Germany and (ultimately) Italy, however, this paper will show a) that PRR parties have not made Brexit a central issue in their campaigns, and b) that they have not converged around hard-Euroscepticism in response to the British referendum vote.

Authors: Stijn van Kessel, Nicola Chelotti, Helen Drake, Juan Roch González, Patricia Rodi
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