The Radical Right in Western Europe

A Comparative Analysis
Herbert Kitschelt
In collaboration with Anthony J. McGann
An in-depth analysis of radical right parties in seven countries.


Winner of the American Political Science Association's 1996 Woodrow Wilson Foundation Award.

The rise of new political competitors on the radical right is a central feature of many contemporary European party systems. The first study of its kind based on a wide array of comparative survey data, The Radical Right in Western Europe: A Comparative Analysis provides a unifying framework to explain why rightist parties are electorally powerful in some countries but not in others. The book argues that changes in social structure and the economy do not by themselves adequately explain the success of extremist parties. Instead we must look to the competitive struggles among parties, their internal organizational patterns, and their long-term ideological traditions to understand the principles governing their success.

Radical right authoritarian parties tend to emerge when moderate parties converge toward the median voter. But the success of these parties depends on the strategy employed by the right-wing political actors. Herbert Kitschelt's in-depth analysis, based on the experiences of rightist parties in Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Norway, and Britain, reveals that the broadest appeal is enjoyed by parties that couple a fierce commitment to free markets with authoritarian, ethnocentric—or even racist—messages. The author also shows how a country's particular political constituency or its intellectual and organizational legacies may allow right-wing parties to diverge from these norms and still find electoral success. The book concludes by exploring the interaction between the development of the welfare state, cultural pluralization through immigrants, and the growth of the extreme right.

Herbert Kitschelt is Professor of Political Science at both Duke University and Humboldt University, Berlin.

Anthony McGann is a Ph.D. candidate in political science at Duke University.

Praise / Awards

  • "...[T]he most sophisticated study of the new radical right parties to date and required reading for anyone interested in the radical right. Above all, this is an alarming book, underscoring the extent to which the new radical right has become a permanent feature of post-Fordist politics as a result of the abandonment of the popular classes by the traditional left."
    —George Steinmetz, American Journal of Sociology
  • "This study is a milestone. . . . Combining knowledge about the various countries with broad analytical goals, it remains an intellectual achievement."
    American Political Science Review

Look Inside

Table of Contents

Preface - vii
Abbreviations - xi
1. The Contemporary Radical Right: An Interpretive and Explanatory Framework - 1
2. The Authoritarian Right against the Libertarian Left: Variations in West European Right-Wing Extremism - 47
3. France: The National Front As Prototype of the New Radical Right - 91
4. Scandinavia: A Milder Version of the New Radical Right - 121
5. Blending New Right Appeals into a Broad Populist Antiestablishment Strategy: Austria and Italy - 159
6. The Legacy of National Socialist in the New Radical Right: Germany - 203
7. Racism, Right-Wing Populism, and the Failure of the Extreme Right in Britain - 241
8. The New Radical Right, Cultural Pluralizations, and the Welfare State - 257
9. Conclusion - 275
Appendix: Wording of Questions in the World Values Survey

Product Details

  • 6 x 9.
  • 352pp.
  • 22 tables, 8 figures.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Paper
  • 1997
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-08441-8

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  • $34.95 U.S.