School of Languages and Area Studies

The Mainstream Right in Europe and the Populist Temptation

9 November 2011

On 9 November 2011, Emmanuel Godin and Dave Hanley, with the support of Centre for European and International Studies Research of the University of Portsmouth,  organised a conference on the above theme. While the steady growth of extreme?right or populist parties in most EU states has attracted an  impressive amount of study, the mainstream right has probably fared less well in terms of academic coverage. What seems to be missing is an attempt to seize the two (or more?) types of right as they interact.  Is the offering of the extreme right really not so different from that of the mainstream, as Cas Mudde seems to be suggesting recently? Or is it a quite distinct phenomenon? Whatever the response to these questions, established parties of the right see themselves increasingly forced to address the challenge of the extreme right, which mobilises enough voters to be a permanent problem. Does the mainstream right ignore the challenger? Co-opt some of their personnel or ideas (on what bases?)? Does it challenge the extreme right head on? Or does it practise a mixture of these responses?  What seems certain is that there is an ongoing tension and a subtle dialogue going on between the different segments of the right.

The papers presented at the conference addressed theoretical issues and offered fresh empirical data on the nature, intensity of this relationship and the formal and informal  linkages which support (and sometimes hinder) it.  The Journal of Contemporary European Studies published a special issue which presented some of the issues discussed during the conference in March 2013.