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The Populist Radical Right in Western Europe: Ideology and Agenda Impact on International Issues
Language: English This thesis is written in English
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Andrea Conti, Libera Univ. Internaz. di Studi Soc. G.Carli-(LUISS) di Roma, 2016-17
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Academic area
Social and Political Sciences
The present thesis deals with the populist radical right (PRR) parties in contemporary Western Europe, a phenomenon which in recent years has been attracting a great deal of attention in both public and academic debate. This work has two paramount goals: conceptualizing and empirically assessing the common ideological fabric of these parties, and studying the political consequences of these parties at agenda-setting level for international policy issues. To this purpose, two main research questions will be evaluated here. First, I will investigate whether PRR parties indeed share a common ideological make-up combining nativism, authoritarianism and populism. Second, I will try to demonstrate that PRR can have a profound impact on the systemic agenda concerning issues of international relevance, like immigration and the EU. More specifically, the proposition will be tested that this type of impact is not necessarily determined by a single variable like the electoral presence of a PRR party on the electoral arena, but it is rather shaped by a set of dynamic variables and strategic considerations of the competing parties. In order to address this question, I will lay out a set of hypotheses concerning patterns of agenda-setting influence (also known as indirect policy impact) of PRR parties on their mainstream contenders. These hypotheses will be then tested in a single case study dealing with the impact of UKIP on the immigration and the EU agenda in the UK from 2005 to 2016. The inquiry will reveal that a broader set of variables concur to explain the trajectories of parties’ programmatic changes in response to a PRR contender. Likewise, it will be shown that parties’ agency is crucial as that they do not respond to electoral threats of PRR parties uniformly. Their behavior on the electoral arena is rather shaped by their contingent set of strategic incentives, and the nature of the issue at stake.