ArticlePDF Available

The Populist Radical Right: A Pathological Normalcy



In recent years more and more studies have pointed to the limitations of demand-side explanations of the electoral success of populist radical right parties. They argue that supply-side factors need to be included as well. While previous authors have made these claims on the basis of purely empirical arguments, this article provides a (meta)theoretical argumentation for the importance of supply-side explanations. It takes issue with the dominant view on the populist radical right, which considers it to be alien to mainstream values in contemporary western democracies – the ‘normal pathology thesis’. Instead, it argues that the populist radical right should be seen as a radical interpretation of mainstream values, or more akin to a pathological normalcy. This argument is substantiated on the basis of an empirical analysis of party ideologies and mass attitudes. The proposed paradigmatic shift has profound consequences for the way the populist radical right and western democracy relate, as well as for how the populist radical right is best studied. Most importantly, it makes demand for populist radical right politics rather an assumption than a puzzle, and turns the prime focus of research on to the political struggle over issue saliency and positions, and on to the role of populist radical right parties within these struggles.
This article was downloaded by:
21 October 2010
Access details:
Access Details: [subscription number 928406911]
Informa Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registered office: Mortimer House, 37-
41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK
West European Politics
Publication details, including instructions for authors and subscription information:
The Populist Radical Right: A Pathological Normalcy
Cas Mudde
Online publication date: 20 October 2010
To cite this Article Mudde, Cas(2010) 'The Populist Radical Right: A Pathological Normalcy', West European Politics, 33: 6,
1167 — 1186
To link to this Article: DOI: 10.1080/01402382.2010.508901
Full terms and conditions of use:
This article may be used for research, teaching and private study purposes. Any substantial or
systematic reproduction, re-distribution, re-selling, loan or sub-licensing, systematic supply or
distribution in any form to anyone is expressly forbidden.
The publisher does not give any warranty express or implied or make any representation that the contents
will be complete or accurate or up to date. The accuracy of any instructions, formulae and drug doses
should be independently verified with primary sources. The publisher shall not be liable for any loss,
actions, claims, proceedings, demand or costs or damages whatsoever or howsoever caused arising directly
or indirectly in connection with or arising out of the use of this material.
The Populist Radical Right:
A Pathological Normalcy
In recent years more and more studies have pointed to the limitations of demand-side
explanations of the electoral success of populist radical right parties. They argue that
supply-side factors need to be included as well. While previous authors have made these
claims on the basis of purely empirical arguments, this article provides a
(meta)theoretical argumentation for the importance of supply-side explanations. It
takes issue with the dominant view on the populist radical right, which considers it to be
alien to mainstream values in contemporary western democracies – the ‘normal
pathology thesis’. Instead, it argues that the populist radical right should be seen as a
radical interpretation of mainstream values, or more akin to a pathological normalcy.
This argument is substantiated on the basis of an empirical analysis of party ideologies
and mass attitudes. The proposed paradigmatic shift has profound consequences for the
way the populist radical right and western democracy relate, as well as for how the
populist radical right is best studied. Most importantly, it makes demand for populist
radical right politics rather an assumption than a puzzle, and turns the prime focus of
research on to the political struggle over issue saliency and positions, and on to the role
of populist radical right parties within these struggles.
Today the politics of the radical right is the politics of frustration –
the sour impotence of those who find themselves unable to
understand, let alone command, the complex mass society that is
the polity today.
The quote above could have been from practically any book on the
contemporary radical right published in the late twentieth century. In fact, it
dates from the early 1960s, and summarises Daniel Bell’s (1964: 42)
assessment of the US radical right of the 1950s. It is indicative of a variety of
dominant positions in the academic debate on the populist radical right,
which I refer to here as the ‘normal pathology thesis’. Short and simple, the
thesis holds that the radical right constitutes a pathology in (post-war)
western society and its success can only be explained by ‘extreme conditions’
Correspondence Address:
West European Politics,
Vol. 33, No. 6, 1167–1186, November 2010
ISSN 0140-2382 Print/1743-9655 Online ª2010 Taylor & Francis
DOI: 10.1080/01402382.2010.508901
Downloaded By: [] At: 00:32 21 October 2010
(i.e. ‘crisis’). Authors working within this paradigm often consider the
radical right in psychological terms and focus almost exclusive on the
demand-side of populist radical right politics.
Recent scholarship on the populist radical right has noted the limitations
of a pure demand-side approach (e.g. Betz 2004; Carter 2005; Givens 2005;
Norris 2005). Although demand-side factors do help explain the success of
populist radical right parties in (Western) Europe, they often fail to account
for significant differences between and within countries. Hence, authors have
started to emphasise the importance of supply-side factors in the explanation
of populist radical right party success. While this shift in focus has been
mostly data-driven, i.e. inspired by empirical findings, this article will ad-
vance a (meta)theoretical argument for the importance of supply-side
This article first provides a concise overview of the scholarship within the
normal pathology paradigm, laying out the basic tenets of the thesis. It will
argue that the thesis is not upheld by empirical analysis; i.e. populist radical
right attitudes and ideological features are rather widespread in con-
temporary European societies. This calls for a paradigmatic shift in the
understanding of the contemporary populist radical right: from a normal
pathology to a pathological normalcy. The article finishes by outlining the
most important consequences of this paradigmatic shift for the study of the
contemporary populist radical right.
The Normal Pathology Thesis Explained
According to traditional scholarship on the populist radical right, (western)
democracy and radicalism in general, and extremism in particular, are based
upon fundamentally opposed values. However, much of this scholarship
makes no distinction between the two terms, i.e. extremism and radicalism,
using them interchangeably. Obviously, this is incorrect. In fact, extremism
and radicalism do not simply differ in degree, they differ in kind in their
relationship to western democracy.
In line with traditional scholarship, I define extremism as the antithesis of
democracy, i.e. as anti-democracy (e.g. Backes 1989). However, democracy
is defined here in a minimal or procedural way. In the famous definition of
the Austrian economist Joseph Schumpeter (1949: 250), democracy is ‘an
institutional arrangement for arriving at political decisions which realises
the common good by making the people itself decide issues through the
election of individuals who are to assemble in order to carry out its will’. In
short, extremism rejects the belief in popular sovereignty, normally executed
by a ‘one person, one vote’ election system.
In contrast to some scholarship, notably the extremism-theoretical school,
I define radicalism as being in opposition to liberal (or constitutional)
democracy (Mudde 2007). Importantly, in this definition radicalism accepts
procedural democracy, whereas extremism does not. However, radicalism
1168 C. Mudde
Downloaded By: [] At: 00:32 21 October 2010
challenges both the liberal basis of it, notably the positive value of pluralism,
and the constitutional limitations to popular sovereignty. The core of
radicalism is monism, i.e. the tendency to treat cleavages and ambivalence as
Much scholarship on the ‘far’ (i.e. extreme and radical) right goes beyond
the ideological opposition between radicalism and democracy, and considers
the far right (in its various permutations) in psychological terms, mostly as a
pathology of modern society. The most influential studies in this tradition
are the psychoanalytical analyses of fascism, such as Wilhelm Reich’s The
Mass Psychology of Fascism (1970; originally 1933) and Theodor W.
Adorno and his collaborators’ The Authoritarian Personality (1969;
originally 1950). Reich (1970: xiii, xiv) considered fascism to be ‘the basic
emotional attitude of the suppressed man’ and argued that ‘[i]n its pure form
fascism is the sum total of all irrational reactions of the average human
As research on the post-war radical right was heavily influenced by
studies of historical fascism, it comes as no surprise that the pathology
approach initially also dominated that field. Early scholarship on the
post-war American radical right seemed particularly affected. For
example, Daniel Bell’s classic article ‘The Dispossessed’ (1964) provides
an analysis of the ‘psychological stock-in-trade’, rather than the ideology,
of the radical right, and is filled with references to pathologies like
paranoia and conspiracy thinking. Similarly, Richard Hofstadter, author
of the influential article ‘The Paranoid Style in American Politics’
(1964a), argued that the radical right ‘stands psychologically outside the
frame of normal democratic politics’ (1964b: 102). The most influential
study in this tradition is undoubtedly Seymour Martin Lipset’s Political
Man, which had, among other things, this to say on the topic:
To sum up, the lower-class individual is likely to have been exposed to
punishment, lack of love, and a general atmosphere of tension and
aggression since early childhood – all experiences which tend to
produce deep-rooted hostilities expressed by ethnic prejudice, political
authoritarianism, and chiliastic transvaluational religion . . . .
In ‘normal’ periods, apathy is most frequent among such
individuals, but they can be activated by crisis, especially if it is
accompanied by strong millennial appeals. (Lipset 1960: 120, 122)
Many studies of the contemporary radical right in Europe have followed
in this tradition. References to paranoia and other psychological disorders
abound in the politically inspired studies, which unfortunately still occupy a
prominent position in the field (particularly in Germany and France). But
even serious scholarship regularly espouses such references. For example,
Sabrina Ramet (1999: 4, 16) defines the radical right in terms of ‘cultural
‘‘irrationalism’’’ and considers ‘an obsession with conspiracies’ as one of its
The Populist Radical Right 1169
Downloaded By: [] At: 00:32 21 October 2010
essential elements. And Rosanvallon and Goldhammer’s account of ‘the
populist temptation’ seems almost an exact copy of Hofstadter’s position of
more than three decades ago:
One way to make the term less ambiguous is to think of populism as a
democratic pathology in two senses: as a pathology, first, of electoral-
representative democracy and, second, of counter-democracy. Popu-
lism is not just an ideology. It is a perverse inversion of the ideals and
procedures of democracy. (Rosanvallon and Goldhammer 2008: 265;
emphasis added)
With regard to the literature on the contemporary populist radical right this
position is most clearly and explicitly expressed in the ‘normal pathology
thesis’ (Scheuch and Klingemann 1967). Scheuch and Klingemann’s ‘Theory
of Right-wing Radicalism in Western Industrial Societies’ remains, in fact,
one of the most ambitious and comprehensive attempts at explaining the
political success of radical right parties in post-war Europe, notably
Germany. The following description of the ‘normal pathology thesis’ is
therefore not to be seen as a summary of their theory, but rather as a
simplified summary of one aspect of it, which has unfortunately been much
more influential than the rest of the fascinating theoretical framework (see
also Arzheimer and Falter 2002).
In brief, the normal pathology thesis holds that populist radical right
values are alien to western democratic values, but that a small potential
exists for them in all western societies (ca.10–15 per cent).
Hence, the
authors speak of a ‘normal pathology’. Within this paradigm, the support of
populist radical right parties is based on ‘structurally determined
pathologies’ (Scheuch and Klingemann 1967: 18). Populist radical right
attitudes will only become politically relevant under ‘extreme conditions’
(Extrembedingungen) (Scheuch et al. 1967: 86). Klingemann (1968: 6) later
described the mechanisms of the thesis as follows:
In industrial societies, which are subject to rapid social change, we
must expect to find typical tensions. Values from the field of primary
relationships and those from secondary institutions arising from the
fundamental requirements of changing industrial societies, tend to
contradict each other. . . .
The rapid change of environmental conditions exercises a
constant pressure which forces the individual either to re-adapt
continuously to his environment, or to participate in actively changing
this environment.
. . . as they fail to fulfill their functions of coping with everyday life,
the individual with a rigid value and orientation system reacts to
changes in the environmental conditions with increasing worry
(anxiety, aggressiveness, etc.).
1170 C. Mudde
Downloaded By: [] At: 00:32 21 October 2010
Some of the most prominent authors whose work can be located within
the normal pathology paradigm are Hans-Georg Betz, Frank Decker, and
Michael Minkenberg.
Betz (1998: 8), for example, argues that ‘[t]he success
of the radical populist right thus reflects to a large extent the psychological
strain associated with uncertainties produced by large-scale socioeconomic
and sociocultural changes’. Explicit support for Scheuch and Klingemann’s
normal pathology thesis is particularly strong in the German (language)
literature (see, among many more, Grumke 2004; Jaschke 2001; Neugebauer
2001). However, many authors, who might never have read the original
article, work within its key parameters. Helmuth Gaus (2004), for instance,
explains the success of the radical right by ‘underlying insecurities and fears’
that come out in cyclical crisis situations. And Lee McGowan (2002: 210)
concludes that ‘[i]n retrospect, it would be naı
¨ve to assume that organized
right-wing extremism would have withered away completely [in post-war
German, CM]. Pockets of support endure across the country. The people for
the most part live in the past’.
In conclusion, the key foundations of the normal pathology thesis have
dominated the academic study of the post-war populist radical right in
(Western) Europe. They include at least the following aspects: (1) populist
radical right values are alien to western democracies; (2) a small potential
continues to exist in all societies; and (3) support for populist radical right
parties is explained by ‘structurally determined pathologies’, which are
triggered by ‘extreme conditions’ (i.e. crises).
The Normal Pathology Thesis and Academic Research
The paradigm of the normal pathology thesis has profound effects on the
academic study of the populist radical right. In its most extreme form,
scholars study the phenomenon unrelated to mainstream democratic
politics; that is, they do not use mainstream concepts and theories, as the
populist radical right is a pathology, and can thus only be explained outside
of the ‘normal’. In most cases, this decision is at least as much political as it
is scientific. Authors believe that by using mainstream concepts and theories,
the scientist legitimises the populist radical right.
This extreme interpretation was particularly prevalent in the study of
‘neo-fascism’ in France, Germany, and the Netherlands in the 1970s and
1980s. Many authors would focus almost exclusively on the historical links
of the populist radical right, i.e. the link to pre-war fascism and Nazism (e.g.
Schulz 1990; Van Donselaar 1991). The assumption was that the post-war
populist radical right had to be understood as a remnant of a distant past,
not as a consequence of contemporary developments.
The more moderate interpretation of the thesis has dominated studies of
the electoral success of the populist radical right at least until the late 1990s.
It became more broadly popular through the works of scholars integrating
insights of the study of political parties (most notably the Greens) into the
The Populist Radical Right 1171
Downloaded By: [] At: 00:32 21 October 2010
field (notably Betz 1994; Ignazi 1992; Kitschelt and McGann 1995). In this
moderate form, mainstream concepts and theories are employed, but the
populist radical right is still perceived as an anomaly of contemporary
western democracies. Hence, the key puzzle in the normal pathology
paradigm is that of demand: why does a popular demand for populist
radical right politics exist?
The two general answers that are offered, protest and support, are based
upon a similar assumption: under ‘normal’ circumstances only a tiny part of
the population in western democracies evinces a demand for populist radical
right politics. Hence it is necessary to search for those ‘abnormal’
circumstances in which ‘populist radical right attitudes’ spread more widely.
Most scholars find the answer in modern interpretations of the classic
modernisation thesis (see Mudde 2007: 203–5).
Almost all major theories of populist radical right support within the
normal pathology thesis refer to some form of crisis linked to some type of
modernisation process and its consequences: e.g. globalisation, risk society,
post-Fordist economy, post-industrial society (e.g. Beck 1992; Holmes 2000;
Loch and Heitmeyer 2001; Swank and Betz 2003). The idea is always the same:
society is transforming fundamentally and rapidly, this leads to a division
between (self-perceived) ‘winners’ and ‘losers’, and the latter will vote for the
populist radical right out of protest (anger and frustration) or support
(intellectual rigidity). In short, under conditions of massive societal change, the
‘losers of modernisation’ will vote for populist radical right parties (e.g. Bell
1964; Berezin 2009; Betz 1994; Decker 2004; Lipset 1955; Minkenberg 1998).
Importantly, within this approach populist radical right parties, and
actually political actors in general, hardly play any role. The only internal
factor that is at times recognised is a charismatic leader (Mudde 2007: 260–
63). This is not only in line with Max Weber’s interpretation of charismatic
leadership (1987[1919]), although few authors refer explicitly to his theory, it
is also in full accordance with the normal pathology thesis. As in ‘normal’
politics voting should be rational, based on ideology or at least identity
(cleavage), not on an irrational bond with an individual.
In short, within the normal pathology thesis the populist radical right
tends to be studied from the perspective of either fascism (extreme) or crisis
(moderate). The prime focus is on explaining demand, which should be low
under ‘normal’ conditions. The supply-side of politics is almost completely
ignored, as is the role of the populist radical right itself. As far as internal
supply does enter the equation, it is in the form of charismatic leadership,
again a perceived pathological remnant of a dark past.
The Normal Pathology Thesis Assessed
As so often with popular viewpoints, few people have ever tested the validity
of the normal pathology thesis. Scheuch and Klingemann themselves laid
1172 C. Mudde
Downloaded By: [] At: 00:32 21 October 2010
out the theoretical framework in 1967, but never provided empirical
evidence for the fundamental arguments. While they were the first to apply
survey material to the study of the radical right, their empirical tests aimed
mainly at providing an insight into ‘the’ NPD voter (e.g. Klingemann 1968;
Klingemann and Pappi 1968). Later scholars working within the paradigm,
many of whom may never have read this rather obscure publication, seemed
to treat the thesis as proven, or as received wisdom that no longer requires
empirical proof.
In this section I assess the claim that the populist radical right is a normal
pathology at two levels, the ideological and the attitudinal. First, I analyse
whether the ideological core of the populist radical right – defined as a
combination of nativism, authoritarianism, and populism (Mudde 2007) – is
indeed at odds with the basic values of western societies. Second, I examine
whether populist radical right values are really shared by only a small
minority of the European population.
The Ideological
The key feature of the populist radical right ideology is nativism, i.e. an
ideology which holds that states should be inhabited exclusively by
members of the native group (‘the nation’) and that non-native elements
(persons and ideas) are fundamentally threatening to the homogenous
nation-state (Mudde 2007: 19). Nativist thinking has a long history in
western societies, notably in the US, with movements like the ‘Know
Nothings’ dating back to the early nineteenth century (e.g. Bennett 1990;
Higham 1955).
Historically and ideologically, nativism is closely linked to the idea of the
nation-state, a nationalist construction that has become a cornerstone of
European and global politics.
The idea of the nation-state holds that each
nation should have its own state and, although this is often left implicit,
each state should have only one nation. This idea is so prevalent that some
authors even speak of a ‘methodological nationalism’ underlying the
dominant contemporary view on society. According to Daniel Chernilo
(2006: 129), ‘[m]ethodological nationalism presupposes that the nation-state
is the necessary and natural form of society in modernity and that the
nation-state becomes the organised principle around which the whole project
of modernity coheres’.
Various European constitutions explicitly state that their country is linked
to one nation; for example, the Slovak preamble starts with ‘We, the Slovak
nation’, while article 4.1 of the Romanian constitution states that ‘[t]he
foundation of the state is based on the unity of the Romanian people’ (in
Mudde 2005). The idea of national self-determination is even enshrined in
chapter 1, article 1 of the United Nations Charter, which explicitly calls for
respect for the ‘self-determination of peoples’.
The Populist Radical Right 1173
Downloaded By: [] At: 00:32 21 October 2010
This is not to claim that all references to national self-determination are
necessarily expressions of nativism. For example, article 1 of the amended
Constitution of Ireland states
The Irish nation hereby affirms its inalienable, indefeasible, and
sovereign right to choose its own form of Government, to determine
its relations with other nations, and to develop its life, political,
economic and cultural, in accordance with its own genius and
However, further articles express a fairly open attitude to non-natives,
including ‘the firm will of the Irish Nation, in harmony and friendship, to
unite all the people who share the territory of the island of Ireland, in all the
diversity of their identities and traditions’ (article 3).
But even where European states are not nativist, they will use ‘banal
nationalism’. With this term, Michael Billig (1995: 6) refers to everyday life
‘ideological habits which enable the established nations of the West to be
reproduced’. Simply stated, citizens in western countries are daily reminded
of their ‘national identity’ through a plethora of more or less subtle hints,
ranging from the celebration of Independence Day, through the name of
their media outlets (e.g. Irish Times,British Broadcasting Corporation,
Hrvatska Radio Televizija), to history education in schools. Although banal
reminders, they are based on the constituting idea of the nation-state.
Authoritarianism, the belief in a strictly ordered society in which
infringements of authority are to be punished severely (Mudde 2007: 23),
is a feature not even exclusive to the ideological core of the populist
radical right. Most notably, ‘the importance of order and authority’ is a
core staple of conservatism (Layton-Henry 1982: 1; Pilbaum 2003). The
conservative political theorist Roger Scruton (1980: 19), for instance,
argues that ‘[i]t is through the ideal of authority that the conservative
experiences the political world’, while fellow conservative Robert Nisbet
(1986: 34) states that ‘[a]uthority is, along with property, one of the two
central concepts in conservative philosophy’. According to Roger Eatwell
(1992: 22), within conservatism ‘man is seen as aggressive and in need of
Moreover, authoritarianism is a key aspect of both secular and religious
thinking, ranging from (proto-)liberals like Thomas Hobbes to socialists like
Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, and from Roman Catholicism to Orthodox
Christianity. According to Lenin (1961: 412), for example, ‘Absolute
centralization and the strictest discipline of the proletariat constitute one of
the fundamental conditions for victory over the bourgeoisie’. With regard to
religion, Bob Altemeyer (1988: 202) concludes in his influential book on
authoritarianism: ‘Generally speaking, Christian religions (among others)
teach the child to obey a supernatural authority and, more to the point, an
earthly authority system that acts in Its name’.
1174 C. Mudde
Downloaded By: [] At: 00:32 21 October 2010
The third and final ideological feature is populism, here defined as a thin-
centred ideology that considers society to be ultimately separated into two
homogeneous and antagonistic groups, ‘the pure people’ versus ‘the corrupt
elite’, and which argues that politics should be an expression of the volonte
´rale, i.e. the general will of the people (Mudde 2007: 23). While the
populist ideology has much deeper roots in the US than in (Western) Europe
(e.g. Goodwyn 1976; Kazin 1995), key elements are clearly linked to
fundamental values of western societies in general.
As Margaret Canovan has so eloquently argued, democracy has a
redemptive and a pragmatic side; the former emphasises the ideal of vox
populi vox dei (or ‘government of the people, by the people, for the people’),
the latter the importance of institutions. ‘Inherent in modern democracy, in
tension with its pragmatic face, is faith in secular redemption: the promise of
a better world through action by the sovereign people’ (Canovan 1999: 11).
Populism builds upon this ‘democratic promise’ (e.g. Goodwyn 1976; Me
and Surel 2002). Interpreting ‘the people’ as a homogenous moral entity,
populists argue that the common sense of the people should always take
precedence and cannot be curtailed by ‘undemocratic’ institutional
constraints such as constitutional protections of minorities.
Populism’s anti-establishment sentiments are also closely connected to
broadly shared beliefs in western societies. These range from Lord Acton’s
famous adagio ‘power corrupts’ to the negative image of humanity so
essential to Christianity and conservatism (e.g. in the Original Sin).
the fact that evangelical Christianity plays a much greater role in the culture
and politics of the US than in Europe, might be part of the explanation of
the broader and deeper anti-establishment sentiments in that country.
Moreover, whereas much of Western Europe had a more elite-driven
process of democratisation and state formation, based upon a strong central
authority and an elitist distrust of the people, in the US the same processes
were driven by ‘We, the People of the United States’ and by a distrust in
central government shared by both the masses and the elites, including the
Founding Fathers.
The Attitudinal
The previous section has established that the constituent features of the
populist radical right ideology are to a large extent in line with key tenets of
mainstream ideologies. Here, we will look into the overlap with mass
attitudes. We mainly use the various Eurobarometer surveys, which is not
only the only regular EU-wide socio-political survey, but it has also shown a
particular interest in issues and values of relevance to this study.
Although nativism is not the same as racism, whatever that may actually
mean to respondents, studies like the Eurobarometer provide ample
evidence of extreme nativist attitudes within Europe. For example, Special
Barometer 113 (‘Racism and Xenophobia: Human Rights and Immigration
The Populist Radical Right 1175
Downloaded By: [] At: 00:32 21 October 2010
in the European Union’), of December 1997, found that ‘[o]nly one in three
of those interviewed said they felt they were ‘‘not at all racist.’’ One in three
declared themselves ‘‘a little racist’’, and a surprising one third openly
expressed ‘‘quite or very racist feelings’’’ (2).
More concretely, 65 per cent of EU-15
citizens agree with the statement
‘our country has reached its limits; if there were to be more people belonging
to these minority groups we would have problems’ (7). Almost two-thirds
believe that all illegal immigrants should be sent back, while 80 per cent
believe illegal immigrants ‘convicted of serious offences’ should be
repatriated (7). Even more radical than (most) populist radical right parties,
some 20 per cent support ‘wholesale repatriation’, i.e. they agree with the
statement that ‘all immigrants, whether legal or illegal, from outside the
European Union and their children, even those born here, should be sent
back to their country of origin’ (7).
Similar figures are reported in the European Social Survey (ESS) of 2003,
which collected survey data for 18 Western European countries and regions
(see Ivarsflaten 2005: 27). Most strikingly, a staggering 80 per cent of the
respondents believe that ‘immigrants committing serious crime should
leave’; note that this does not refer to ‘illegal’ immigrants, like the
Eurobarometer question above. Moreover, large minorities agree that
‘immigrants committing any crime should leave’ (46 per cent), ‘government
should not treat refugee applications generously’ (45 per cent), and that
‘immigrants that are long-term unemployed should leave’ (43 per cent).
Even the extreme statement that ‘immigrants should not have same rights as
everyone else’ finds support among 19 per cent of the respondents.
As far as positive attitudes towards the ingroup are concerned, many
studies take the ‘proud’ question as an indicator. A staggering 85 per cent of
EU-25 respondents are very or fairly proud to be Dutch/Swedish/etc.
(Eurobarometer 66, September 2007). This ranges from near unanimity in
Cyprus (98 per cent) to 71 per cent in Germany. It has to be noted that the
‘proud’ question is a very soft indication of nationalism, let alone nativism,
which does not correlate very strongly with other (more negative) indicators.
Moreover, no less than 59 per cent of the EU-25 respondents are also very
or fairly proud to be European.
Regarding authoritarianism, surveys show an even stronger overlap
between mass attitudes and populist radical right positions. According to
Special Barometer 181 (‘Public Safety, Exposure to Drug-Related Problems
and Crime’), of May 2003, 78 per cent of EU-15 citizens believe that young
people would commit less crime if they were taught better discipline by their
parents or at school (9); ranging from 65 per cent in Austria to 90 per cent in
France (51). Similarly, 62 per cent of EU-15 people believe that young
people would commit less crime if jail sentences were tougher; however,
varying between 37 per cent in Sweden to 75 per cent in Ireland (10).
Although 55 per cent of EU citizens think their local police ‘are doing a
good job’ in fighting crime, 74 per cent believe that ‘better policing’ would
1176 C. Mudde
Downloaded By: [] At: 00:32 21 October 2010
reduce crime in their area (47). Finally, a staggering 85 per cent of the EU-25
populations agree with the statement: ‘Nowadays there is too much
tolerance. Criminals should be punished more severely.’ This ranges from
70 per cent in Denmark to 97 per cent to Cyprus (Eurobarometer 66).
The ideological feature of populism can only be studied through its anti-
elite or anti-establishment side. As the booming literature on Politikver-
drossenheit has argued, and partly proven, growing groups of EU citizens
hold negative attitudes towards the main institutions of their national
democratic system, though not to the democratic system as such (cf. Dahl
2000). In fact, in 1999, 40 per cent of the EU-15 people were ‘not very
satisfied’ or ‘not at all satisfied’ with their national democracy; ranging from
70 per cent in Italy to 22 per cent in the Netherlands (Eurobarometer 52,
April 2000). Even though average satisfaction with democracy fluctuates
over time, and there is no clear Europe-wide downward trend in satisfaction
(e.g. Wagner et al. 2009), surveys do show consistently that significant
minorities of Europeans are not very/at all satisfied with their national
Similarly, trusts levels of key democratic institutions are quite low.
According to the Eurobarometer 66 (August 2006), the army is the most
trusted institution (69 per cent), followed by the police (66 per cent). The
three least trusted institutions are the national parliament (33 per cent), the
national government (30 per cent), and political parties (17 per cent). While
there also some people with no opinion, the vast majority of EU citizens do
not trust the main political institutions of their country. Notably, 58 per cent
and 62 per cent ‘tend not to trust’ their national parliament and
government, respectively (Eurobarometer 69, June 2008). And a staggering
75 per cent tend not to trust their political parties (Eurobarometer 59, April
Regarding the issue of corruption, a prominent staple of populist radical
right propaganda, the Special Eurobarometer 291 (‘The Attitudes of
Europeans towards Corruption’), of April 2008, reported that 75 per cent
of EU-27 citizens totally agree or tend to agree that corruption is a major
problem in their country. In countries like Bulgaria, Greece, Hungary and
Romania some 75 per cent even ‘totally agree’ with the statement. To be
fair, there is a north–south divide here, as in Northern Europe only a
minority believe that corruption is a major problem in their country: around
a quarter in Denmark and Finland and just under half in Sweden and the
According to the Special Eurobarometer 245 (‘Opinions on Organized,
Cross-National Border Crime and Corruption’), 59 per cent of the EU-25
believe that giving or receiving bribes is not successfully prosecuted. Of the
categories of people that are believed to be corrupt, ‘politicians at national
level’ top the list, with 60 per cent of the EU-25 respondents thinking they
are corrupt; ranging from a low of 29 per cent in Denmark to a high of 69
per cent in Slovenia. Politicians at the regional level (47 per cent) and at the
The Populist Radical Right 1177
Downloaded By: [] At: 00:32 21 October 2010
local level (45 per cent) are ranked fourth and fifth. Although the Special
Eurobarometer 291 reports lower figures, they are still significant minorities
of 46 per cent (national politicians) and 37 per cent (regional and local
Finally, a specific target of populist radical right propaganda is the
European Union, which is described as a thoroughly corrupt bureaucratic
Moloch. Surveys show that this view is shared by a substantial majority
of Europeans. The Special Eurobarometer 291 reports that no less than 66
per cent of citizens of the EU-27 believe that corruption exists within EU
institutions; which is actually down from 71 per cent in 2005.
Interestingly, the countries with the highest scores, Germany (81 per
cent) and Sweden (80 per cent), score among the lowest with regard to
corruption in their own country (though this is not a general relation-
From Normal Pathology to Pathological Normalcy
The preceding analysis has shown that the normal pathology thesis does not
hold up to empirical scrutiny. Populist radical right ideas are not alien to the
mainstream ideologies of western democracy and populist radical right
attitudes are not just shared by a tiny minority of the European population.
In fact, the populist radical right is better perceived as a pathological
normalcy, to stay within the terminology of Scheuch and Klingemann – well
connected to mainstream ideas and much in tune with broadly shared mass
attitudes and policy positions.
The pathological normalcy thesis does not entail that the populist radical
right is part of the mainstream of contemporary democratic societies.
Rather, it holds that, ideologically and attitudinally, the populist radical
right constitutes a radicalisation of mainstream views (Betz 2003; Minken-
berg 2001). The empirical argument is that key aspects of the populist
radical right ideology are shared by the mainstream, both at the elite and
mass level, albeit often in a more moderate form. Not surprisingly, this
paradigmatic shift has a profound influence on (1) the relationship between
the populist radical right and western democracy, and, consequently, (2) the
study of the populist radical right.
With regard to the relationship between the populist radical right and
western democracy, the key difference is not to be defined in kind, i.e. by
fundamental opposition (i.e. antithesis), but in degree, i.e. by moderate
versus radical versions of roughly the same views. Moreover, populist
radical right attitudes and ideas are not marginal under normal conditions;
they are fairly widespread, if often in a more moderate form than expressed
by the populist radical right parties. How broadly shared the populist
radical right core ideology is cannot (yet) be established on the basis of the
available datasets. This would require a complex measurement model,
encompassing a collection of multiple indictors for all three (multifaceted)
1178 C. Mudde
Downloaded By: [] At: 00:32 21 October 2010
ideological features,
rather than simplistic indicators like left–right self-
placement (e.g. Winkler and Schumann 1988) or support for racist
Pathological Normalcy and Academic Research
The paradigmatic shift from normal pathology to pathological normalcy
has profound consequences for the academic study of the populist
radical right. First and foremost, it means that the populist radical
right should be studied on the basis of concepts and theories of mainstream
political science.
Second, the prime focus of the research should not be on
explaining demand, as this is generated ‘naturally’ by the complex
multiethnic western democracies, but on explaining supply. This is not to
say that demand-side explanations are irrelevant, but rather that they are
best left to explain the existence of populist radical right attitudes at the
mass level, not the electoral success of populist radical right parties.
For populist radical right parties, the political struggle is not so much
about attitudes, but about issues. After all, with regard to the issues that
matter, i.e. the populist radical right trinity of corruption–immigration–
security, a significant part of the population already shares their positions to
a large extent.
The key point is that, traditionally, ‘their’ issues have not
dominated the political struggle in most western democracies. Populist
radical right parties do not focus primarily on socio-economic issues, as most
traditional parties do, but on socio-cultural issues, like the other new party
family, the Greens.
Within the pathological normalcy paradigm, the success and failure of
populist radical right parties is, first and foremost, explained by the struggle
over issue saliency and positions. As Paul Lucardie (2000: 175) puts it,
populist radical right parties are purifiers, referring to ‘an ideology that has
been betrayed or diluted by established parties’, rather than prophets,
‘which articulate a new ideology’. They do not have to sway voters to a new
issue position, they have to shift them to a new issue: away from the socio-
economic issues, like (un)employment, and towards the socio-cultural
issues, like immigration. Therefore, the main struggle of the populist radical
right party family is to increase the saliency of ‘their’ issues, i.e. corruption,
immigration, and security.
The increased opportunities for electoral success for all populist radical
right parties, at least since the mid 1980s, is to a large extent explained by the
broader shift away from classic materialist politics towards some form of
post-materialist politics (Inglehart 1977), or at least a combination of the
two. Within this process, the populist radical right itself played only a
marginal role. Rather, it was to a large extent an unintended reaction to the
success of the new left in the late 1960s and 1970s, which led to a
neoconservative backlash in the late 1970s and 1980s (Ignazi 1992).
This development not only created electoral space for the populist radical
The Populist Radical Right 1179
Downloaded By: [] At: 00:32 21 October 2010
right, it also opened up a relatively new and ‘level’ playing field, i.e.
competition over socio-cultural issues like corruption, immigration, and
The fact that some populist radical right parties have been able to use
these opportunities, and other have not, must be explained by the concept of
‘issue ownership’ (e.g. Budge and Farlie 1983; Petrocik 1996); or, more
accurately for non-valence issues, issue position ownership.
While the new
playing field was level in all countries, the struggle for issue position
ownership varied. In some countries, new or reformed (right-wing) parties
could capture issue position ownership on corruption, immigration, and
security even before a populist radical right party was able to establish itself.
In most unsuccessful cases, however, it was the populist radical right party
itself that kept it from achieving issue position ownership. Because of a lack
of organisation and personnel, these parties were haunted by internal strife
and public scandal, making them an unattractive political actor despite their
favourable issue position.
Where the populist radical right was able to establish issue position
ownership on one or more of their golden issues – corruption, immigration,
security – the key explanation for their success was internal. While it was
mostly the established parties (forced by the public and the media) that
created the conditions for their electoral breakthrough, it was the populist
radical right parties themselves that ensured their electoral persistence.
Broadly stated, they did this through a combination of leadership,
organisation, and propaganda.
Two good examples of populist radical right that successfully combined
these three factors are the French Front National (FN) and the Belgian
Vlaams Blok/Belang (VB). During its heyday, the FN had a powerful
combination of charismatic leadership by Jean-Marie Le Pen, who attracted
voters from across the political spectrum, and managerial leadership by
Bruno Me
´gret, who organised the party into a powerful machine. The
party’s propaganda was famed inside and outside of the country; in fact,
many other populist radical right parties adopted FN propaganda (e.g.
Rydgren 2005). One of these parties was the VB, copying not just posters
but even whole programmes,
and which had in Filip Dewinter both a
charismatic and managerial leader.
While both examples seem fairly straightforward, much more empirical
study is needed to get a clearer view on what exactly distinguishes successful
from unsuccessful party organisation, leadership, and propaganda. More-
over, the histories of both parties show that these factors are no guarantee
for everlasting electoral success. The FN got involved in a fierce internal
power struggle between Le Pen and Me
´gret in the late 1990s, leading to a
split in the party and a consequent loss of support (albeit much less than
expected). And although the VB has not yet experienced a serious split, the
party has recently lost its first elections and internal divisions have emerged
that could threaten its future success.
1180 C. Mudde
Downloaded By: [] At: 00:32 21 October 2010
In recent years more and more studies of the populist radical right have
pointed to the limitations of demand-side explanations. Instead, they
emphasise the need to include supply-side factors in the analyses as well (e.g.
Carter 2005; Givens 2005; Norris 2005). However, while previous authors
have made these claims purely on the basis of empirical arguments, this
article provides the first (meta)theoretical argumentation for the importance
of supply-side explanations.
The study of the populist radical right has been dominated by the
normal pathology thesis, i.e. the belief that the populist radical right is a
pathology of contemporary western democracies, which has only limited
support under ‘normal’ circumstances. Within this paradigm, mass
demand for populist radical right parties constitutes the main puzzle,
and can only be explained by some form of modernisation theory-related
As has been shown, the normal pathology thesis does not hold up
under empirical scrutiny. The key features of the populist radical right
ideology – nativism, authoritarianism, and populism – are not unrelated
to mainstream ideologies and mass attitudes. In fact, they are best
seen as a radicalisation of mainstream values. Hence, the populist radical
right should be considered a pathological normalcy, not a normal
This paradigmatic shift has profound consequences for the study of the
populist radical right. Widespread demand is a given, rather than the
main puzzle, in contemporary western democracies. Provocatively stated,
the real research question should be: why have so few parties been
successful given the generally fertile breeding ground? The answer is to be
found in the supply-side of issue politics, most notably in the struggles
over the saliency of issues (particularly for the phase of electoral
breakthrough) and over issue position ownership (especially for the phase
of electoral persistence). This can only be truly understood if the populist
radical right party itself is brought (back) into the analysis and
Earlier versions of this article have been presented at various locations,
including the University of Illinois, the University of Oslo, Vanderbilt
University and the Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin. I want to thank all
participants for their valuable feedback. In particular, I thank Elisabeth
Ivarsflaten, Cristo
´bal Rovira Kaltwasser and Hans-Dieter Klingemann for
their careful reading and insightful comments on the article. Finally, I want
to thank the reviewers of West European Politics for their constructive
The Populist Radical Right 1181
Downloaded By: [] At: 00:32 21 October 2010
1. The original article does not specify the size of the population with radical right attitudes,
but in another article Scheuch (1967: 10) speaks of ‘a residuum of ca. 10% up to 15%’.
2. Other work that implicitly or explicitly builds upon Scheuch and Klingemann’s normal
pathology thesis include Nagle (1970), Armingeon (1995) and Winkler and Schumann
3. A notable exception is the chapter by Arzheimer and Falter (2002) in the Festschrift for
Hans-Dieter Klingemann. Not only do they put the normal pathology thesis to the test,
they actually try to test the thesis in all its complexity.
4. Andreas Wimmer (2002: 2), for example, argues that ‘[d]emocracy, citizenship and national
self-determination became the indivisible trinity of the world order of nation-states’.
5. Even in clearly multinational states or federations one can find such banal nationalism. The
state of Belgium, for example, entails two large cultural-linguistically different groups
(Dutch speakers and French speakers; as well as a tiny group of German speakers), which
do not even share one (monolingual) public space. At the same time, the Belgian
Constitution explicitly states that ‘[a]ll power emanates from the Nation’ (article 33;
emphasis added).
6. The influential American conservative thinker Peter Viereck (1949: 30) has argued that
conservatism should be ‘the political secularization of the doctrine of original sin’.
7. EU-12 refers to the EU between 1980 and 1995, when it included the following 12 member
states: Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg,
Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, and the United Kingdom. In 1995, Austria, Finland and
Sweden joined, transforming it into the EU-15. In 2004, 10 new, mainly East European
countries joined (Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta,
Poland, Slovakia, and Slovenia), making it the EU-25. With the addition of Bulgaria and
Romania, in 2007, the European Union is currently knows as the EU-27.
8. Few attempts at constructing such multidimensional measurement models have been
undertaken so far. The few existing models are heavily influenced by the models, not the
theory, of Adorno and his collaborators. Unfortunately, they have been developed for
different, if related, concepts (notably the ‘extreme right’ and ‘far right’), and have been
applied and tested in only limited local or regional contexts (e.g. De Witte et al. 1994;
Meijerink et al. 1995, 1998).
9. For example, Special Eurobarometer 41 on ‘Racism and Xenophobia’ (November 1989)
asked respondents whether they approved with ‘movements in favour of racism’.
Obviously, ‘only’ 4 per cent of EU-12 citizens approved ‘completely’, and 6 per cent ‘to
some extent’ (16).
10. A recent example, using mainstream coalition theories to explain the government
participation of radical right parties, is De Lange (2008).
11. Hence, the finding that xenophobic attitudes are a rather poor explanator of populist
radical right voting behaviour (e.g. Rydgren 2008).
12. In short, party A owns position X (on issue Y) when a large part of the electorate that (1)
cares about issue Y and (2) holds position X, trusts party A to be the most competent party
to shift policies (directly or indirectly) towards issue position X.
13. The VB copied most of its infamous anti-immigrant 70-Point Program from the FN’s 50-
Point Program (see Mudde 2000).
Adorno, T.W., Else Frenkel-Brunswik, Daniel J. Levinson, and R. Nevitt Sanford (1969). The
Authoritarian Personality. New York. W.W. Norton.
Altemeyer, Bob (1988). Enemies of Freedom: Understanding Right-Wing Authoritarianism. San
Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
1182 C. Mudde
Downloaded By: [] At: 00:32 21 October 2010
Armingeon, Klaus (1995). ‘Der Schweizer Rechtsextremismus im internationalen Vergleich’,
Swiss Political Science Review, 1:4, 41–64.
Arzheimer, Kai, and Ju
¨rgen W. Falter (2002). ‘Die Pathologie des Normalen. Eine Anwendung
des Scheuch-Klingemann-Modells zur Erkla
¨rung rechtsextremen Denkens und Verhaltens’,
in Dieter Fuchs, Edeltraud Rolle, and Bernhard Weßels (eds.), Bu
¨rger und Demokratie in Ost
und West: Studien zur politischen Kultur und zum politischen Prozess. Festschrift fu
¨r Hans-
Dieter Klingemann. Wiesbaden: Westdeutscher, 85–107.
Backes, Uwe (1989). Politischer Extremismus in demokratischen Verfassungsstaaten. Elemente
einer Rahmentheorie. Opladen: Westdeutscher.
Beck, Ulrich (1992). Risk Society: Towards a New Modernity. London: Sage.
Bell, Daniel (1964). ‘The Dispossessed’, in Daniel Bell (ed.), The Radical Right. Garden City,
NY: Anchor, 1–45.
Bennett, David H. (1990). The Party of Fear. From Nativist Movements to the New Right in
American History. New York: Vintage.
Berezin, Mabel (2009). Illiberal Politics in Neoliberal Times. Cultures, Insecurity, and Populism
in a New Europe. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Betz, Hans-Georg (1994). Radical Right-Wing Populism in Western Europe. Houndmills:
Betz, Hans-Georg (1998). ‘Introduction’, in Hans-Georg Betz and Stefan Immerfall (eds.), The
New Politics of the Right: Neo-Populist Parties and Movements in Established Democracies.
New York: St. Martin’s.
Betz, Hans-Georg (2003). ‘The Growing Threat of the Radical Right’, in Peter H. Merkl and
Leonard Weinberg (eds.), Right-Wing Extremism in the Twenty-First Century. London:
Frank Cass, 74–93.
Betz, Hans-Georg (2004). La droite populiste en Europe: Extre
ˆme et de
´mocrate? Paris:
Billig, Michael (1995). Banal Nationalism. London: Sage.
Budge, Ian, and Dennis J. Farlie (1983). Explaining and Predicting Elections: Issue Effects and
Party Strategies in Twenty-Three Democracies. London: Allen & Unwin.
Canovan, Margaret (1999). ‘Trust the People! Populism and the Two Faces of Democracy’,
Political Studies, 47:1, 2–16.
Carter, Elisabeth (2005). The Extreme Right in Western Europe: Success or Failure? Manchester:
Manchester University Press.
Chernilo, Daniel (2006). ‘Methodological Nationalism and Its Critique’, in Gerard Delanty
and Krishan Kumar (eds.), The Sage Handbook of Nations and Nationalism. London: Sage,
Dahl, Robert A. (2000). ‘A Democratic Paradox?’, Political Science Quarterly, 115:1,
Decker, Frank (2004). Der neue Rechtspopulismus. Opladen: Leske þBudrich.
De Lange, Sarah Leah (2008). ‘From Pariah to Power: The Government Participation of
Radical Right-Wing Populist Parties in West European Democracies’, unpublished PhD
Thesis, Antwerp.
De Witte, Hans, Jaak Billiet, and Peer Scheepers (1994). ‘Hoe zwart is Vlaanderen? Een
exploratief onderzoek naar uiterst-rechtse denkbeelden in Vlaanderen in 1991’, Res Publica,
36:1, 85–102.
Eatwell, Roger (1992). ‘Conceptualizing the Right: Marxism’s Central Errors’, in Roger Eatwell
and Noe
¨l O’Sullivan (eds.), The Nature of the Right: American and European Politics and
Political Thought since 1789. Boston: Twayne, 18–31.
Gaus, Helmuth (2004). Opgang en verval van extreem-rechts. Bijdrage tot de studie van politieke
cycli. Ghent: Academia.
Givens, Terri (2005). Voting Radical Right in Western Europe. New York: Cambridge
University Press.
Goodwyn, Lawrence (1976). Democratic Promise: The Populist Moment in America. New York:
Oxford University Press.
The Populist Radical Right 1183
Downloaded By: [] At: 00:32 21 October 2010
Grumke, Thomas (2004). ‘‘‘Take This Country Back!’’ Die Neue Rechte in der USA’, in
Wolfgang Gessenharter and Thomas Pfeiffer (eds.), Die Neue Rechte – eine Gefahr fu
Demokratie? Opladen: VS Verlag fu
¨r Sozialwissenschaften, 175–186.
Higham, John (1955). Strangers in the Land: Patterns of American Nativism, 1860–1925. New
Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.
Hofstadter, Richard (1964a). ‘The Paranoid Style in American Politics’, Harper’s Magazine,
November, 77–86.
Hofstadter, Richard (1964b). ‘Pseudo-Conservatism Revisited: A Postscript’, in Daniel Bell
(ed.), The Radical Right. Garden City, NY: Anchor, 97–103.
Holmes, Douglas R. (2000). Integral Europe: Fast-Capitalism, Multiculturalism, Neo-Fascism.
Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Ignazi, Piero (1992). ‘The Silent Counter-Revolution. Hypotheses on the Emergence of
Extreme-Right Wing Parties in Europe’, European Journal of Political Research, 22:1–2, 3–34.
Inglehart, Ronald (1977). The Silent Revolution: Changing Values and Political Styles among
Western Publics. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Ivarsflaten, Elisabeth (2005). ‘Threatened by Diversity: Why Restrictive Asylum and
Immigration Policies Appeal to Western Europeans’, Journal of Elections, Public Opinion
and Parties, 15:1, 21–45.
Jaschke, Hans-Gerd (2001). Rechtsextremismus und Fremdenfeindlichkeit: Begriffe, Positionen.
Praxisfelder, 2nd ed. Opladen: Westdeutscher.
Kazin, Michael (1995). The Populist Persuasion: An American History. New York: Basic Books.
Kitschelt Herbert and Anthony McGann (1995). The Radical Right in Western Europe.
A Comparative Analysis. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press.
Klingemann, Hans D. (1968). ‘Research into Right-Wing Radicalism’, Patterns of Prejudice,
2:3, 3–10.
Klingemann, Hans D., and Franz Urban Pappi (1968). ‘NPD’s Success in Baden-Wu
An Analysis of the Neo-Nazi Vote’, Patterns of Prejudice, 2:4, 22–7.
Layton-Henry, Zig (1982). ‘Introduction: Conservatism and Conservative Politics’, in Zig
Layton-Henry (ed.), Conservatives Politics in Western Europe. New York: St. Martin’s, 1–20.
Lenin, Vladimir I. (1961). Fundamentals of Marxism–Leninism. Moscow: Foreign Languages
Publishing House.
Lipset, Seymour Martin (1955). ‘The Radical Right: A Problem for American Democracy’,
British Journal of Sociology, 6:2, 176–209.
Lipset, Seymour Martin (1960). Political Man: The Social Bases of Politics. New York:
Loch, Dietmar, and Wilhelm Heitmeyer (2001). Schattenseiten der Globalisierung. Rechtsradi-
kalismus, Rechtspopulismus und Regionalismus in Westeuropa. Frankfurt am Main:
Lucardie, Paul (2000). ‘Prophets, Purifiers and Prolocutors: Towards a Theory on the
Emergence of New Parties’, Party Politics, 6:2, 175–85.
McGowan, Lee (2002). The Radical Right in Germany: 1870 to Present. London: Longman.
Meijerink, F.G.J., C.E. Mudde, and J.J.M. Van Holsteyn (1995). ‘Rechtsextremisme:
Opmerkingen over theorie en praktijk van een complex verschijnsel’, Acta Politics, 30:4,
Meijerink, Frits, Cas Mudde, and Joop Van Holsteyn (1998). ‘Right-Wing Extremism’, Acta
Politics, 33, 165–78.
´ny, Yves, and Yves Surel (2002). ‘The Constitutive Ambiguity of Populism’, in Yves Me
and Yves Surel (eds.), Democracies and the Populist Challenge. Houndmills: Palgrave, 1–21.
Minkenberg, Michael (1998). Die neue radikale Rechte im Vergleich: USA, Frankreich,
Deutschland. Opladen: Westdeutscher.
Minkenberg, Michael (2001). ‘The Radical Right in Public Office: Agenda-Setting and Policy
Effects’, West European Politics, 24:4, 1–21.
Mudde, Cas (2000). The Ideology of the Extreme Right. Manchester: Manchester University
1184 C. Mudde
Downloaded By: [] At: 00:32 21 October 2010
Mudde, Cas (2005). ‘Racist Extremism in Central and Eastern Europe’, East European Politics
and Societies, 19:2, 61–84.
Mudde, Cas (2007). Populist Radical Right Parties in Europe. Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press.
Nagle, John D. (1970). The National Democratic Party: Right Radicalism in the Federal Republic
of Germany. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Neugebauer, Gero (2001). ‘Extremismus – Rechtsextremismus – Linksextremismus: Einige
Anmerkungen zu Begriffen – Forschungskonzepten, Forschungsfragen und Forschungser-
gebnissen’, in Wilfried Schubarth and Richard Sto
¨ss (eds.), Rechtsextremismus in der
Bundesrepublik Deutschland – Eine Bilanz. Opladen: Westdeutscher Verlag, 13–37.
Nisbet, Robert (1986). Conservatism: Dream and Reality. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota
Norris, Pippa (2005). Radical Right: Voters and Parties in the Electoral Market. New York:
Cambridge University Press.
Petrocik, John R. (1996). ‘Issue Ownership in Presidential Elections, with a 1980 Case Study’,
American Journal of Political Science, 40:3, 825–50.
Pilbaum, Bruce (2003). Conservatism in Crisis? Anglo-American Conservative Ideology after the
Cold War. Houndmills: Palgrave.
Ramet, Sabrina P. (1999). ‘Defining the Radical Right: Values and Behaviors of Organized
Intolerance in Post-Communist Central and Eastern Europe’, in Sabrina P. Ramet (ed.), The
Radical Right in Central and Eastern Europe since 1989. University Park, PA: Pennsylvania
State University Press, 3–27.
Reich, Wilhelm (1970). The Mass Psychology of Fascism. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux.
Rosanvallon, Pierre, and Arthur Goldhammer (2008). Counter-Democracy. Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press.
Rydgren, Jens (2005). ‘Is Extreme Right-Wing Populism Contagious? Explaining the
Emergence of a New Party Family’, European Journal of Political Research, 44:3, 413–37.
Rydgren, Jens (2008). ‘Immigration Skeptics, Xenophobes or Racists? Radical Right-Wing Voting
in Six West European Countries’, European Journal of Political Research, 47:6, 737–65.
Scheuch, Erwin K. (1967). ‘Rechtsradikalismus in Deutschland? Eine Untersuchung bei den
¨ngern der NPD’, in Erwin K. Scheuch and Hans D. Klingemann, Materialen zum
¨nomen des Rechtsradikalismus in der Bundesrepublik 1966. Cologne: Institut fu
vergleichende Sozialforschung, 3–27.
Scheuch, Erwin K., and Hans D. Klingemann (1967). ‘Theorie des Rechtsradikalismus in
westlichen Industriegesellschaften’, Hamburger Jahrbuch fu
¨r Wirtschafts- und Gesellschaft-
spolitik, 12, 11–29.
Scheuch, Erwin K., Hans D. Klingemann, and Jeffrey M. Paige (1967). ‘Theorie des
Rechtsradikalismus in westlichen Industriegesellschaften. Vorlegungen zu einer interkulturell
vergleichende Studie’, in Erwin K. Scheuch and Hans D. Klingemann, Materialen zum
¨nomen des Rechtsradikalismus in der Bundesrepublik 1966. Cologne: Institut fu
vergleichende Sozialforschung, 80–96.
Schulz, Hans-Ju
¨rgen (1990). Sie sind wieder da! Faschismus und Reaktion in Europa. Frankfurt
am Main: ISP.
Schumpeter, Joseph A. (1949). Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy. New York: Harper.
Scruton, Roger (1980). The Meaning of Conservatism. Totowa, NJ: Barnes & Noble.
Swank, Duane, and Hans-Georg Betz (2003). ‘Globalization, the Welfare State and Right-Wing
Populism in Western Europe’, Socio-economic Review, 1:2, 215–45.
Van Donselaar, Jaap (1991). Fout na de oorlog. Fascistische en racistische organisaties in
Nederland 1950–1990. Amsterdam: Bert Bakker.
Viereck, Peter (1949). Conservatism Revisited: The Revolt Against Revolt, 1815–1949. New
York: C. Scribner.
Wagner, Alexander F., Friedrich Schneider, and Martin Halla (2009). ‘The Quality of
Institutions and Satisfaction with Democracy in Western Europe – A Panel Analysis’,
European Journal of Political Economy, 25:1, 30–41.
The Populist Radical Right 1185
Downloaded By: [] At: 00:32 21 October 2010
Weber, Max (1987). Politik als Beruf, 8th ed. Berlin: Duncker & Humblot.
Wimmer, Andreas (2002). Nationalist Exclusion and Ethnic Conflict: Shadows of Modernity.
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Winkler, Ju
¨rgen R., and Siegfried Schumann (1998). ‘Radical Right-Wing Parties in
Contemporary Germany’, in Hans-Georg Betz and Stefan Immerfall (eds.), The New Politics
of the Right: Neo-Populist Parties and Movements in Established Democracies. New York:
St. Martins Press, 95–110.
1186 C. Mudde
Downloaded By: [] At: 00:32 21 October 2010
... Realizar diagnósticos psicopatológicos apressados aos líderes destes partidos, e aos seus apoiantes, tampouco contribui para entender as raízes populares da revolta que tem levado à sua ascensão. É sabida a tendência de vários investigadores catalogarem a direita populista mais radical enquanto mera patologia das democracias ocidentais, que em circunstâncias normais terá pouca adesão ou seguidores, mas esta perspetiva não resiste ao escrutínio empírico (Mudde, 2010). ...
... Paradoxalmente, o facto dos eleitores em geral, nas democracias ocidentais, terem atualmente um nível de educação superior, podê-los-á ter tornado mais recetivos aos discursos populistas, pois já não aceitam de tão bom grado o que elite política tem para oferecer, sentem-se mais capazes de exigir e julgar as suas ações, ou seja, já não aceitam passivamente que pensem por eles. Estes partidos tomam como suas prioridades comuns à população em geral, dando-lhes uma interpretação mais radical (Mudde, 2010). Será por aqui que se explica o sucesso dos populistas atuais que se apresentam contra o discurso "politicamente correto", disruptivos nos seus apelos sem tabus. ...
... Acerca do Populismo Nacionalista e da direita radical na Europa, a ideia expressa por Daniel Bell, em 1964, referente à sua avaliação da direita radical americana dos anos 50 do século XX, reflete muito do que ainda hoje se acredita ser a direita populista (in Cas Mudde, 2010): ...
Full-text available
O Populismo e o Nacionalismo tornaram-se termos omnipresentes, apelativos e fonte de intensas análises e discussões, preenchendo um espaço crescente no discurso e na análise política. Os resultados eleitorais em diversos países europeus e para o Parlamento Europeu não apontam para uma vitória da democracia, mas antes para a normalização do Populismo da direita mais radical, deixando preocupações para o que possa acontecer em próximas eleições. Parece-nos assim de grande relevância estudar e compreender esta reemergência e recrudescimento das ideias populistas e nacionalistas, entender ainda a sua génese e evolução tendo em conta a ameaça que representam para as democracias liberais em geral e para o futuro da União Europeia em particular
... Arguably, the populist right-wing is not 'alien' to mainstream values in contemporary Western democracies but represents what Cas Mudde calls 'pathological normalcy' [78] (p. 1167). ...
Full-text available
This paper offers insights into the nexus of youth, masculinity, and right-wing populism in Australia. Here, we make reference to a wide body of international literature that suggests some affinity between disenfranchised (white) working-class young men and radical right ideas. Survey data were collected for a project on masculinity and the far right in Australia. A total of 203 young male informants worked primarily in ‘blue collar’ sectors of the Australian labour force. Some survey responses located them partly or potentially within the field of the populist right-wing, with many expressing anti-government sentiments and the discourse of white male victimhood. The majority were nostalgic for stereotypical masculinity. While right-wing populist movements across the world certainly differ, they often share a discourse promoting traditional gender roles.
... Coincidiendo con el inicio del siglo XXI, en los países occidentales ha aumentado progresivamente la representación de partidos políticos de ideología de extrema derecha con discursos populistas (Ignazi, 2003; Antón-Mellón y Hernández-Carr, 2016;Mudde, 2004Mudde, , 2010Mudde, , 2019, provocando la polarización del espacio político público europeo y el (re)posicionamiento ideológico de los partidos mayoritarios "tradicionales". En particular, entre la juventud se ha observado un mayor incremento de la adhesión a ciertas ideologías "radicales" 1 1. ...
Full-text available
El artículo estudia la participación política y polarización juvenil ante el auge de la derecha radical en España. Tras analizar fuentes secundarias recientes y la representación periodística del fenómeno durante las últimas elecciones andaluzas, identificamos los componentes afectivos de la polarización política juvenil, en un contexto de desideologización y emocionalización del comportamiento político, asociado en la actualidad al creciente apoyo a formaciones de la derecha radical. La volatilidad del voto juvenil, el efecto generacional y el desapego de la juventud hacia las instituciones y formas de participación convencional, explican además su preferencia por otras formas no convencionales de participación política.
... These findings make several contributions to our understanding of hate crime and extremist politics. By showing that antirefugee hate crime support is anchored across the citizenry, my results align with the view that extremist acts and party preferences are products of mainstream society, rather than aberrations from universally shared norms (15)(16)(17). It is not productive to consider hate crime as a pathological mutation of a select few; it is embedded within a broad coalition of support. ...
Full-text available
Hate crime is a pervasive problem across societies. Though perpetrators represent a small share of the population, their actions continue in part because they enjoy community support. But we know very little about this wider community of support; existing surveys do not measure whether citizens approve of hate crime. Focusing on Germany, where antiminority violence is entrenched, this paper uses original surveys to provide systematic evidence on the nature and impacts of hate crime support. Employing direct and indirect measures, I find that significant shares of the population support antirefugee hate crime and that the profile of supporters is broad, going much beyond common perpetrator types. I next use a candidate choice experiment to show that this support has disturbing political consequences: among radical right voters, hate crime supporters prefer candidates who endorse using gun violence against refugees. I conclude that a significant number of citizens empower potential perpetrators from the bottom-up and further legitimize hate crime from the top-down by championing violence-promoting political elites.
... Mouffe (2016) famously argued that it is not an ideology. Nevertheless, it shares some characteristics across interpretations such as the separation of "the people" from "the others" (Mudde 2010). The others can stand for a variety of groups, such as the liberal political elite, the wealthy upper class, who frequently collaborate with the political elite, and, more recently, the ethnoreligious minority, who may also overlap with the wealthy, as in Asia. ...
Full-text available
Malaysia is known to have a diverse population across the racial and religious spectrums. However, a majority of the population identifies as Malays, and, thus, legally, as Muslims too. Although the development of the Malay identity had begun immediately after World War II, the stark division between Muslims and non-Muslims came out of the 1971 New Economic Policy that prioritized the Malay population in the name of reducing poverty and stabilizing the country. With the Malay-nationalist party United Malay National Organization (UMNO) being in power for six decades, the position of the Malays became undisputed. At the same time, international and domestic development such as the Islamic revival of the 1970s, the Global War on Terror and the splitting of Malay votes in the 2000s further pushed UMNO and, later, the Islamist PAS to redefine Malay identity as part of the larger Muslim ummah under the framework of 'civilizational populism'. By conflating ethnicity and religion, Islamist and Malay nationalist parties together with their leaders used populist discourses to ensure the people's continued support, even at the expense of non-Muslim Malaysian citizens. Using process tracing, this article shows that civilizationism is effective to unite the majority Muslim population in a divided country such as Malaysia when policies in place failed to engender unity. As a result, Malay-Muslims sought a community beyond its borders, and with the rise of Islamist politics around the world, it has become much easier for the Malay-Muslims to highlight the plight of Muslims over that of their own co-nationalists for the benefit of domestic politics.
... During the current populist era in global politics (Laclau 2005;Albertazzi and McDonnell 2008;Mudde 2010;Moffitt 2016), religion has become a key component of populist discourses across the world . From India and Turkey to Indonesia and the United States, populist political actors use religious language and concepts to double down on identity politics and galvanise support. ...
Full-text available
This paper examines the existing literature on the relationship between religion and populism, and is intended as a starting point for further examination of the relationships between populism, religion, and emotions. This paper systematically reviews the various aspects of the populist phenomenon. After a discussion on different definitions of populism, this paper looks at how the literature discusses the causes of populism, mainly socio-economic factors and emotive factors. Then it discusses how religion and populism interact and can be divided in two broad categories of religious populism and identitarian populism. While, on the surface, the two share similarities, this paper reviews populist manifestations across the world to draw the distinct features between the two forms. Lastly, while pointing out the salient features of religious populism and identitarian populism, this study points out gaps in the research on the relationship between religious populism and other phenomena such as transnational populism, the psychology of populism, the role of emotions in creating support for populism, and populism in Western and non-Western contexts for future areas of research in the field.
Full-text available
In this paper, I discuss the evolution of Buddhist civilisational populism in modern Sri Lankan politics and civil society. I do this by historicising early forms of Buddhist civilisational populism in the country, during its occupation by the British Empire (1815–1945). As I discuss in this paper, some of the key concepts of “civilisationism” central to leading social and political movements in British Ceylon were a result of the disruptions caused by centuries of European colonial rule. Consequently, issues of identity and belonging have carried on to the post-independence context. In this paper, I discuss what these dynamics could possibly mean for the future of Sri Lankan politics and society, in the wake of the nation’s debilitating economic crisis last year.
Full-text available
Una creciente literatura, desde hace ya varios años, sostiene que presenciamos un periodo de recesión de los valores democráticos, que se entiende como la disminución en el ritmo de avance y de los logros ocurridos durante la tercera ola de democratización global. Sin embargo, estos procesos parecen responder más a las dinámicas internas de los Estados que a un proceso generalizado de desprecio por los regímenes democráticos, las transformaciones de la política global también han dificultado —y lo hacen cada vez más— el mantenimiento y generación de nuevos pactos democráticos. El presente ensayo contribuye al análisis de la forma en que la democratización ha interactuado en los procesos de construcción de Estado, y rastrea la forma en que ayuda a explicar una eventual recesión democrática. Para ello, en primer lugar, se presenta una reconstrucción de los distintos argumentos teóricos que han logrado presentar a la democracia liberal como un modelo superior a los regímenes autoritarios de derecha e izquierda. A continuación, se revisa críticamente los principales aportes en materia de estudios sobre las transiciones y la consolidación de la democracia. En la sección tres, se hace una revisión del estado del arte de la literatura sobre la naturaleza de la crisis democrática contemporánea. Finalmente, se hace un recorrido sobre las perspectivas de superar la crisis democrática actual en América Latina.
Andreas Wimmer argues that nationalist and ethnic politics have shaped modern societies to a far greater extent than has been acknowledged by social scientists. The modern state governs in the name of a people defined in ethnic and national terms. Democratic participation, equality before the law and protection from arbitrary violence were offered only to the ethnic group in a privileged relationship with the emerging nation-state. Depending on circumstances, the dynamics of exclusion took on different forms. Where nation building was 'successful', immigrants and 'ethnic minorities' are excluded from full participation; they risk being targets of xenophobia and racism. In weaker states, political closure proceeded along ethnic, rather than national lines and leads to corresponding forms of conflict and violence. In chapters on Mexico, Iraq and Switzerland, Wimmer provides extended case studies that support and contextualise this argument.
Social change and multicultural society in Western Europe against diversity - new right ideology in the new Europe individualism and xenophobia - radical right-wing populism in a comparative perspective the social basis of radical right-wing populism political conflict in the postmodern age.