Anti-Establishment Radical Parties in 21st Century Europe

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Nedelcu, Horia Cosmin




The current crisis in Europe is one that superimposed itself over an already existing political crisis - one, which due to the cartelization of existing political parties, Peter Mair (1995) famously referred to as a problem of democratic legitimacy in European political systems between those political parties that govern but no longer represent and those that claim to represent but do not govern. As established cartel-political parties have become complacent about their increasing disconnect with societal demands, the group of parties claiming to represent without governing has intensified its anti-elitist, anti-integrationist and anti-mainstream party message. Indeed many such parties, regardless of ideology (radical right but also radical-left), have surged during the past decade, including in the European Parliament elections of 2009 and especially 2014. The common features of these parties are: a) a radical non-centrist ideological stance (be it on the left or right, authoritarian or libertarian dimensions); b) a populist anti-establishment discourse, c) a commitment to representing specific societal classes; d) an aggressive discourse and behaviour towards political enemies, e) a commitment towards ‘restoring true democracy’ and f) a tendency to offer simplistic solutions to intricate societal issues. The question this dissertation asks is - what accounts for the rise of left-libertarian as well as right-wing authoritarian tribune parties within such a short period of time during the mid-2000s and early 2010s? I investigate this question through a comparative study of six EU member-states. I argue that both supply-side as well as demand-side factors point towards new anti-establishment parties in the European political arena flourishing due to the perceived presence and even strengthening of the cartel-party system established by mainstream centrist political parties. With respect to the financial crisis in particular, anti-establishment parties are not merely capitalizing on the negative effects of the economy, but also on dissatisfaction with mainstream established parties in general and their unanimous and unwavering commitment to economic orthodoxy and austerity.


Political Science




Carleton University

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Political Science

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Theses and Dissertations

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