9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN32 Political Sociology

2009-09-03 09:00:00 2009-09-03 10:30:00 Thursday, 3 September 09:00 - 10:30 The Extreme Right Building I, 2E10

Globalization and Populist Radical Right Parties in Europe: Austria, Denmark, Germany

Most studies on globalization or "denationalization" have analysed the new forms of national sovereignty and global governance. Research concerning the impact of globalization on political representation has not really developed as yet, and the impact on the changing party systems in European nation states even less so. Thus, most studies on populism and radical right parties in Europe remain within the framework of "national societies" and national cleavage structures. The main hypothesis of this paper is that the electoral success of populist radical right parties in Europe is linked to the process of globalization/denationalization. Against this background, we will first open a theoretical perspective based on cleavage theory. We suppose that globalization has created within national party systems both a new economic and cultural cleavage, each opposing the positions of trans- and supranational "integration" to those of national "demarcation". In this new cleavage structure, populist radical right parties defend positions of "demarcation" through economic and cultural protectionism. Secondly, we will show that empirical comparative research in this new context can help to explain convergence in ideology and form of these parties and their success in mobilizing "globalization losers" in many European societies. But empirical work also shows that the degree of globalization and the salience of the new cleavages vary between (West and East) European societies and that divergence in populist radical right parties' ideology, form and success can be explained above all by differences in historical legacy, political cultures, institutional frames and political opportunity structures. Lastly, in order to highlight this, we will focus on three case studies: Austria, Denmark and Germany. Austria and Denmark are examples of highly globalized countries with successful populist radical right parties. On the other hand, the case of Germany, also a highly globalized country, will demonstrate why the radical right remains weak and why national particularities continue to be important within European societies.