Although the concept of “charismatic” leaders is commonplace in political discourse, many academics hold that the notion is vague and these leaders’ alleged appeal to voters untestable. This chapter sets out a conceptualization of such leaders, focusing on radical mission, personal presence, symbiotic hierarchy, and Manichean demonization. It then considers four broad theories about why charismatic leaders have notable effects (and why the radical right gathers support): socioeconomic change and crisis, political opportunity structures, cultural legitimation, and psychological affinities. While it is important not to overstate the powers of most leaders, the chapter concludes by arguing that we need to appreciate the role of “coterie” charisma over an inner core, helping to keep parties together. Moreover, charismatic leaders exert a centripetal appeal, particularly to authoritarians and/or those least interested in politics, creating a more differentiated following than the affective bond stressed in the classic Weberian model.
The literature on the radical right’s electorate offers a plethora of potential explanations as to why people vote for the radical right. This chapter organizes the presumptive causes of right-wing voting along the lines of the familiar micro-meso-macro scheme, focusing both on a number of landmark studies and on some of the latest research. In doing so, it weighs the evidence in favor of and against some prominent hypotheses about the conditions for radical right party success, including the pure-protest hypothesis, the charismatic-leader hypothesis, and the silent-counterrevolution hypothesis. It also discusses the existing knowledge on the effects of a host of meso- and macro-level factors, and points out some directions for further research. The chapter concludes that radical right mobilization is now the rule rather than the exception, and that we should perhaps focus on understanding why it is not successful in some cases.
This chapter discusses the claim that radical right parties are typically led and supported by men, and explores various aspects of gender bias as they relate to radical right parties and support for these parties. The first section considers the so-called gender gap in radical right voting, with women being significantly underrepresented among the radical right electorate compared with men. The second section examines how explanations for radical right voting behavior may differ between women and men. Whereas the majority of the research on radical right voting has taken for granted that women and men behave similarly, it shows that the limited available research does indicate some gender differences in the explanations for supporting a radical right party. The final section outlines some ideas for further research and the challenges that lie ahead for scholarship on gender and the radical right.
Adam Lockyer and Peter K. Hatemi
Social scientists most often seek to empirically validate something already observed. Genetics identifies the unobserved. It provides a starting point to identify developmental pathways to preferences and behaviors. Understanding differences in the genome can help identify why people who experience the same social environment physically perceive it differently and react to it differently. The introduction of evolutionary theory, combined with methods and approaches from genetics, genomics, epigenetics, and molecular biology, has substantially changed the way in which social scientists explore and understand the development and maintenance of political values and behaviors. This chapter reviews findings from recent empirical and theoretical studies that have explored how genetic factors account for some part of why people differ politically.
This chapter underscores the merit of studying the emergence and growth of the radical right from a cleavage perspective, which sees party system change as rooted in large-scale transformations of social structure. The chapter begins by discussing explanations for the rise of the radical right in terms of the educational revolution, the processes of economic and cultural modernization, and globalization, showing where these perspectives converge and where they differ. It then goes on to show how the structuralist perspective has been combined with a focus on agency. Under conditions of multidimensional party competition, the behavior of mainstream parties is crucial, because it determines the relative salience of competitive dimensions and whether they offer space for radical right-wing challengers. Some of the most exciting recent research studies how the processes of dealignment and realignment structure the propensity of specific social groups such as the manual working class to support the radical right.
David Brady, Agnes Blome, and Hanna Kleider
This article explores the influence of politics and institutions on poverty and inequality. It first considers the general contention that poverty is shaped by the combination of power resources and institutions. On one hand, scholars in the power resources tradition have emphasized the role of class-based collective political actors for mobilizing “power resources” in the state and economy. On the other hand, institutionalists have highlighted the role of formal rules and regulations. The article goes on to discuss the theoretical arguments of power resources theory and the evidence for key power resources (that is, collective political actors like labor unions and parties). It also reviews institutional explanations, focusing on the key concepts and theories and as well as the evidence linking the most salient institutions to poverty. Finally, it examines how state policy influences poverty and presents several challenges for future research.
Antonis A. Ellinas
The way the media relate to radical right-wing actors remains one of the least studied areas in the literature on the radical right. This chapter examines how the media affect the demand for and the supply of right-wing radicalism. The media can affect political demand by setting the agenda on or framing key issues such as immigration and crime, helping legitimize a political space in which the radical right can thrive. On the supply side, media access and exposure are a political resource that can help outsiders enter the political game and provide validation, momentum, and legitimacy. Media effects depend on availability of political opportunities, developmental phase of the radical actor, type of coverage, and type of medium. Future work can use experimental methods to probe individual-level links between media cues and voter or activist preferences, and to examine media regulations, especially of newer media.
John Veugelers and Gabriel Menard
This chapter examines radical right publishers, intellectual schools, parallel organizations, voluntary associations, small groups, political sects, and families. Party and non-party sectors of the radical right share common projects. They interact with each other, and the boundaries between their memberships, social networks, and formal or informal organizations overlap. Yet the non-party sector retains important specificities. Apart from identifying its social bases, main activities, organizational forms, and ideological orientations, this chapter attends to variations across Europe and between Europe and the United States. The conclusion proposes directions for future research: (1) fill in empirical gaps that emerge from an overview of the literature, (2) examine if interaction between economic globalization and welfare protection explains the strength of the non-party sector, and (3) test the hypothesis that a centripetal party system with a weak boundary between moderate and radical right favors the non-party sector of the radical right.
This chapter begins by outlining some persistent challenges—conceptual, methodological, and theoretical—that have characterized the study of party organization in general, and radical right organization in particular. It then evaluates recent work and contends that it has done more than establish that “organization matters.” The intellectual challenge of demonstrating a causal relationship between organization and dependent variables of interest should not be underestimated. But in the social sciences, everything “matters” to some degree, so simply calling attention to another dynamic of the radical right phenomenon would be useful but perhaps not so interesting. Fortunately, recent work on radical right party organization (including several studies that include radical right parties in their comparative framework) offer excellent examples of creative data collection and theoretical innovation. Finally, the chapter speculates about what lines of inquiry are worth pursuing, and which ones might not be worth the intellectual investment.
This chapter presents an introduction to different theories of party competition, as exemplified by the substantive puzzle of radical right-wing partisan rise. The first task, however, is to conceptualize radical right party fortunes within the context of competitive party systems. The next three sections discuss the initial rise of radical right parties through three lenses: spatial theories of party competition, institutional and historical mediators of current competitive opportunities for radical right entry, and non-spatial theories of party competition based on valence and issue ownership. This is followed by a report on research about the ongoing strategic interaction between radical right parties and their competitors after the former’s initial rise to electoral prowess. The chapter concludes with several general synthesizing hypotheses about the life cycle of political parties, with the radical right’s rise and possible future demise being a particular application.