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

Simon Bornschier

Publication Year: 2010

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 study Cleavage 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.

Published by: Temple University Press


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pp. v-vi

List of Illustrations and Tables

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pp. vii-x

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pp. xi-xiii

This book grew out of my fascination with the long-term stability of West European party systems and the partial disruption of these historical patterns caused by the forceful manifestation of identity politics in the 1990s. While some scholars took the latter to mark the end of cleavage-based politics, the common changes a number of party systems...

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Introduction: A Dynamic Perspective on Cleavages and the Populist Right

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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. ...

Part I: Putting Right-Wing Populist Parties in Context

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1. The New Cultural Conflict and the Populist Right in Western Europe

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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. ...

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2. The Extreme-Right-Wing Populist Party Family

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pp. 32-49

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. ...

Part II: New Political Divides and Historical Cleavages

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3. From Structure to Culture and Back: The Perpetuation and Transformation of Historical Cleavages

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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. ...

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4. Research Design and Methods

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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. ...

Part III: The New Cultural Cleavage and the Populist Right in France, Switzerland, and Germany

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5. France: The Reshaping of Cultural Conflicts and the Rise of the Front National

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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...

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6. Switzerland: The Transformation of the Swiss People's Party

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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. ...

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7. Germany: A Constricted Ideological Space and the Failure of the Extreme Right

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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). ...

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Conclusion: The Redefinition of Cultural Conflicts and the Transformation of Western European Party Systems

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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. ...

Appendix A: Issue Positions and Issue Salience in the Campaign Data

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pp. 209-220

Appendix B: Datasets Used for the Demand-Side Analyses

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pp. 221

Appendix C: Operationalization of Issue Categories on the Demand Side

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pp. 223-226


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pp. 227-240


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pp. 241-245

E-ISBN-13: 9781439901946

Publication Year: 2010