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2021 Conference of the ECPR Standing Group on Politics and Gender

Eastern Europe – Going Right? A Comparative Account of the Radical Right’s Policy Impact Concerning Ethnic Minorities and Asylum Seekers

Europe (Central and Eastern)
Policy Change
Michael Minkenberg
Europa-Universität Viadrina
Michael Minkenberg
Europa-Universität Viadrina
Anca Florian
Europa-Universität Viadrina
Zsuzsanna Végh
Europa-Universität Viadrina
Malisa Zora Zobel
Europa-Universität Viadrina

Over the past years, and perhaps even more so following the “refugee crisis”, Eastern Europe has experienced a resurgence of the radical right, with a number of new or established radical right parties entering national Parliaments or governing coalitions, and a general increase of rightward discourses. To explore the impact of the radical right in the region, this paper considers effects on democratic quality, in this case theorized through the lenses of multicultural democracy as minority and refugee rights. The goal of the paper is to test legislative and policy effects of the radical right in the fields of ethnic minorities (including Roma) and asylum seekers, over an extended period of sixteen years (2000-2016). To do so, it uses original expert survey data, building on and expanding the CHES methodology, and complemented with in-depth qualitative interviews with politicians, activists and academics in seven countries in the region (Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Estonia, Poland, Romania, Slovakia).
The paper seeks to provide a comparative analysis of the role of the radical right, by exploring whether and what type of policy impact it can produce, as well as the conditions in which this occurs. Of particular interest are aspects related to electoral strength and relevance of radical right parties and the strategic reactions of mainstream parties to these challengers, as well as interaction patterns between the radical right and other actors such as mainstream parties, civil society and the state. The paper contributes to a deeper understanding of the conditions enhancing or inhibiting radical right actors, using an original and comparative dataset and, not in the least, offering some of the first available data regarding reactions and effects in the area of asylum seeker rights, previously lacking from the region.
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