Cleavage Politics and the Populist Right

Cleavage Politics and the Populist Right: The New Cultural Conflict in Western Europe

Simon Bornschier
Copyright Date: 2010
Published by: Temple University Press
Pages: 260
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  • Book Info
    Cleavage Politics and the Populist Right
    Book Description:

    Over the last two decades, right-wing populist parties in Western Europe have gained sizable vote shares and power, much to the fascination and consternation of political observers. Meshing traditionalism and communitarian ideals, right-wing populist parties have come to represent a polar normative ideal to the New Left in Western Europe. In his dynamic studyCleavage Politics and the Populist Right,Simon Bornschier applies a cultural as well as political dimension to analyze the parties of both the right and left in six countries. He develops a theory that integrates the role of political conflict around both established cleavages and party strategies regarding new divisions to explain the varying fortunes of the populist right.

    eISBN: 978-1-4399-0194-6
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Illustrations and Tables
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. Preface
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  5. INTRODUCTION: A Dynamic Perspective on Cleavages and the Populist Right
    (pp. 1-14)

    The continuing presence of right-wing populist parties in Western Europe’s political landscape since the 1990s is a phenomenon that escapes explanations centered on the level of individual countries. In spite of the split in 1998, Jean-Marie Le Pen came in second in the French 2002 presidential elections. He received a respectable share of the vote even in 2007, faced with a Gaullist candidate who heavily emphasized law-and-order stances and whose credibility in implementing important policy changes was obviously higher than that of a challenger no other party accepts as a coalition partner. In Austria, Jörg Haider and a handful of...

  6. PART I Putting Right-Wing Populist Parties in Context
    • 1 The New Cultural Conflict and the Populist Right in Western Europe
      (pp. 17-31)

      In the course of the past two decades, right-wing populist parties have gained sizable shares of the vote in France, Switzerland, and Austria. In the Netherlands, Pim Fortuyn has succeeded in breaking into a party system whose segmentation and “pillarization” once made it an example of stability. Throughout much of the postwar period, Switzerland and Austria had also been marked by high stability in party alternatives. In these countries, as well as in Denmark, Norway, Italy, and Belgium, the success of new parties of the right has largely surpassed that of older parties of the extreme right, which seemed to...

    • 2 The Extreme-Right-Wing Populist Party Family
      (pp. 32-50)

      Two propositions are tested in this chapter by way of an empirical analysis of the dimensions structuring political space around the 1990s in six Western European countries. The first is that right-wing populist parties are located in a distinct position in political space. Together with two further criteria—their anti-establishment discourse and their hierarchical internal structure—they can thus be considered a common party family. Among the six countries studied in this chapter, the “candidates” for inclusion in the extreme-right-wing populist party family are the French Front National, the Austrian Freedom Party (FPÖ), the Swiss People’s Party (SVP), and the...

  7. PART II New Political Divides and Historical Cleavages
    • 3 From Structure to Culture and Back: The Perpetuation and Transformation of Historical Cleavages
      (pp. 53-70)

      The mobilization of the historical cleavages identified by Seymour Martin Lipset and Stein Rokkan (1967), in processes lasting to the end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth century, have given birth to the modern party systems in Europe. Subsequently, the full mobilization of European electorates led to a “freezing” of the major party alternatives. A crucial characteristic of Western European competitive politics, according to Lipset and Rokkan (1990 [1967]: 134), is that “the party alternatives, and in remarkably many cases the party organizations, are older than the majorities of national electorates.”

      Assuming a zero-sum relationship between...

    • 4 Research Design and Methods
      (pp. 71-90)

      This chapter lays out and illustrates the procedure and the methods used in the subsequent country analyses. Adopting the structure of the chapters to come, the discussion has three main parts. The first step is to investigate the dimensionality of political space and to determine the positions parties take within it. I therefore start by describing in more detail than in Chapter 2 the campaign data used in this study and discuss at some length the interpretation of the configurations resulting from the Multidimensional Scaling (MDS) analysis.

      The second section illustrates, step by step, the measurement of the elements needed...

  8. PART III The New Cultural Cleavage and the Populist Right in France, Switzerland, and Germany
    • 5 France: The Reshaping of Cultural Conflicts and the Rise of the Front National
      (pp. 93-127)

      In much of the twentieth century, France hardly qualified as an example of a stable party system, and it has not been uncommon to see new parties rise and old parties fall. The institutions of the Fifth Republic, however—the two-round majoritarian formula used in national parliamentary elections and in presidential contests—did progressively bring about a more stable pattern of “bipolar multipartism” after 1958 (Knapp 2002; Parodi 1989). The era of stability proved to be short-lived, however, as new cultural conflicts appeared in the early 1980s. Since then, different conceptions of norms that should be binding in society, of...

    • 6 Switzerland: The Transformation of the Swiss People’s Party
      (pp. 128-164)

      Of the countries studied in this book, Switzerland stands for a case in which an established party has mobilized and absorbed the political potentials related to the new cultural conflicts that have emerged since the 1960s. In the course of this process, the Schweizerische Volkspartei (Swiss People’s Party; SVP) has evolved from a conservative agrarian party into an extreme-right-wing populist party. Many studies of the SVP converge in their assessment that the party has undergone a profound transformation, which centers on the preservation of Swiss traditions against the challenges of immigration and supranational integration in the European Union.

      Popular discord...

    • 7 Germany: A Constricted Ideological Space and the Failure of the Extreme Right
      (pp. 165-198)

      Despite the attention regularly devoted to the extreme right in Germany both in the media and in scholarly research, its electoral support has remained rather limited in the postwar era, and its successes have been confined to singular events. In the 1980s, this situation changed somewhat, when support for the Republikaner (Republican Party) appeared to mirror the rise of right-wing populist parties in other countries (Kitschelt with McGann 1995). However, the Republicans proved incapable of consolidating their success in the 1990s. This failure is often attributed to the competition within the extreme right in Germany. However, even the combined support...

  9. CONCLUSION: The Redefinition of Cultural Conflicts and the Transformation of Western European Party Systems
    (pp. 199-208)

    Because of the presence of the historical class and religious cleavages, the space of political alternatives represented in Western European party systems has always been characterized by an economic and a cultural, or value-based, divide. Due to the mobilization of the New Left and the extreme populist right, the cultural divide has been redefined since the 1970s. The educational revolution of the 1960s has resulted in wide embracing of the universalistic norms advocated by the culturally libertarian New Social Movements. In many countries, Social Democratic parties have reacted to the resulting electoral potential by adopting these issues and undergoing a...

  10. APPENDIX A: Issue Positions and Issue Salience in the Campaign Data
    (pp. 209-220)
  11. APPENDIX B: Datasets Used for the Demand-Side Analyses
    (pp. 221-222)
  12. APPENDIX C: Operationalization of Issue Categories on the Demand Side
    (pp. 223-226)
  13. References
    (pp. 227-240)
  14. Index
    (pp. 241-245)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 246-246)