The Radical Right as a Political Challenger in Western Europe
The goal of this seminar is to investigate the causes and consequences of the emergence of new radical right parties in Western European democracies. The success of new radical right parties such as the Austrian FPÖ or the French Front National in the past two decades has been the focus of intense scholarly attention as well as a broader general debate. The debate surrounds key questions of what can explain the vote choice for these parties on an individual level; how these decisions are affected by the behavior of established parties; and how their success affects other parties’ policy decisions and the functioning of representative democracies more generally. This seminar will theoretically and empirically analyze these questions. It is thus less concerned with a discursive understanding of the radical right ideology or a normative evaluation of their existence in the light of modern democracies, but more with the concrete empirical factors that allow us to understand why these parties have been successful and which consequences this success has for party competition and policy outcomes.
In order to analyze these questions the seminar consists of three main theoretical parts. (1) Students will familiarize themselves with basic theories of voting and party behavior. This includes the so-called spatial or Downsian model of political competition as well as socio-economic theories about voter preferences and the political space, which are both essential to analyzing the recent success of the radical right. (2) The seminar engages with the radical right as a strategic and rational actor within the changing political space of post-industrial Western European societies. (3) We will cover the most recent and influential empirical studies that investigate causes and consequences of radical right success.
The seminar will encourage students to engage in their own empirical analyses of the subject. Hence, we will cover basic considerations of research design and methodology that are necessary for such an exercise. This also includes training in quantitative methods to analyze individual voting behavior, i.e. regression models for binary dependent variables and their application with the software program Stata. Knowledge of basic levels of statistics (at least regression analysis) as well as Stata is thus a necessary prerequisite for participating in this class. Students who feel their knowledge is “rusty” should, however, not be dis-encouraged of taking this class as there will be opportunities to refresh this knowledge.
The general language of communication in this class is English. Alle Leistungsnachweise können auch auf Deutsch erbracht werden.