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Comparative Politics

B07(a) - Extreme Right Parties

Date: Jun 4 | Time: 03:15pm to 04:45pm | Location: SWING 408

Chair/Président/Présidente : Simeon Mitropolitski (University of Ottawa)

Discussant/Commentateur/Commentatrice : Daniel Westlake (University of Victoria)

Ranking of Far-Right Parties in Europe: Simeon Mitropolitski (University of Ottawa)
Abstract: How far right on the left-right political scale are located European far-right parties? This question is relevant for reasons of expected governmental policy once these parties democratically take control of political power, either alone or in coalition. This paper offers two Guttman-type scales for measuring European far-right parties based on content analysis of their political programs and electoral manifesto, both for European and national elections. Guttman scale is a tool designed to empirically test the unidimensionality of a set of items. In this paper, the first of these scales measures the right wing extremism with the concept of national identity that far-right parties use in order to restrict political and social rights and freedoms of people they consider not part of a national community. The second scale measures the extremism with the policies suggested to protect national community and to discriminate against the “others”. The results after applying the scales represent two variable scatter plot which may be used as a tool for further analysis and for educational purposes.


To Co-Opt or Antagonize: Far-Right Party Ideology and Left Parties’ Responses: Daniel Westlake (University of Victoria)
Abstract: The rise of the far-right challenges left parties. On one hand far-right parties weaken mainstream right competitors by taking votes from them. On the other, they often attract working class voters who have traditionally supported left parties (Bale, 2003). Left parties have to be careful when responding to the far-right. If they do too much to co-opt far-right anti-immigrant positions they will alienate progressive pro-immigration and multiculturalism voters. If they do too little, they risk losing anti-immigrant working class voters. This dilemma explains why existing literature on left party responses to the far-right comes to conflicting conclusions. Schumacher and van Kersbergen (2016) find that left parties take anti-multicultural positions co-opt far-right positions, van Heerden et al. (2014) find that they do less to co-opt far-right positions than the mainstream right, and Bornschier (2010) finds that they are positioning themselves as pro-immigration parties. This literature lacks an analysis of how far-right positioning on economic issues affects left responses. Far-right parties take on a range of left-right positions that span from the pro-business positions of the Norwegian Progress Party to the working class targeted rhetoric of the Front National. I argue that left parties will feel more threatened by far-right parties that take left economic positions and therefore do more to co-opt their anti-immigrant positions. The closer a far-right party gets to a left party on left/right issues, the more the left party will do to co-opt the far-right’s immigration and nationalism positions.


Anti-System and Populist Parties : A Conceptual Reassessment: Katryne Villeneuve-Siconnelly (Université Laval)
Abstract: Although different in nature, many authors and medias tend to merge the concepts of anti-system and populist parties. And while political scientists are mitigated about the effective role of political parties and argue they are now facing a deep crisis of representation, the rise of radical political organizations around the world raises a plethora of questions. Among these organizations, nationalist parties fancy the representation of a specific part of the electorate and, in doing so, may even justify the use of violent actions to achieve their ambitions. Yet, in order to participate, to govern, and not alienate potential voters, they must institutionalize themselves and moderate their agenda. But how and why would some outsider parties change their strategies to fit into the political environment they once repudiated? The aim of this paper is then twofold, by investigating the fundamental distinct characteristics of both types of parties first, and then evaluate the reasons behind the institutionalization of such atypical groups. The compelling theoretical cases of the Sinn Féin (Northern Ireland), the Parti québécois (Québec), the SNP (Scotland), the Front national (France), the UKIP (Britain) and Republican Party (United States) will be examined. Using a qualitative methodology, Hamel and Janda's concept of shocks will provide a helpful frame and a relevant timeline of the crucial events contributing to the evolution of the selected case. The electoral platforms of these parties will then be evaluated, in order to assess their effective institutionalization.