When Do Populist Radical Right Parties Succeed? Salience, Stigma, and the Case of the End of Iberian ‘Exceptionalism’

27 Pages Posted: 17 Apr 2019

See all articles by James Dennison

James Dennison

European University Institute - Migration Policy Centre

Mariana Mendes

European University Institute - Department of Political and Social Sciences (SPS)

Date Written: April 2019

Abstract

This study offers an explanatory model for variation in electoral results for ‘populist radical right’ parties in Europe over time and across countries. We build on and fuse previous explanations to offer a theoretical model that combines supply- and demand-side explanations. We argue that such parties succeed when they are able to avoid the stigma of extremism by initially catering to an unsatiated demand of right-wing voters on a ‘less controversial’, highly salient issue. With their relatively minor place in the party system confirmed and equipped with a ‘reputation shield’ that extremist parties do not enjoy, they are able to refocus on more controversial, other highly salient issues, typically immigration, potentially leading to greater potential mobilisation. We use the case of the Spanish party Vox, as well as the erstwhile, anomalous lack of success for similar parties across Portugal and Spain, to test our framework. We show that both the historic lack of populist radical right party success across Iberia, the relative greater success in the rest of western Europe and the recent rise of Vox can be explained neatly by this framework of salience, stigma and supply.

Keywords: Populist radical right, Spain; Portugal, issue salience, social stigma, Vox

Suggested Citation

Dennison, James and Mendes, Mariana, When Do Populist Radical Right Parties Succeed? Salience, Stigma, and the Case of the End of Iberian ‘Exceptionalism’ (April 2019). Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies Research Paper No. RSCAS 2019/26, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3372847 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3372847

James Dennison (Contact Author)

European University Institute - Migration Policy Centre ( email )

Villa Malafrasca
Via Boccaccio 151
Florence, I-50133
Italy

Mariana Mendes

European University Institute - Department of Political and Social Sciences (SPS) ( email )

Via dei Roccettini 9
San Domenico di Fiesole
Florence, 50014
Italy

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