Do populist parties behave differently from other parties when they enter parliament? Presenting evidence from a study of parties in the Netherlands, Simon Otjes and Tom Louwerse illustrate that both left-wing and right-wing populist parties tend to primarily voice opposition rather than offer policy alternatives. The growing representation of populist parties in West European parliaments is therefore likely to lead to an increase in confrontational politics focused on scrutiny rather than policy-making.
With the rise of far-right parties in Europe during the 2000s, some centre-right parties spotted an opportunity to win back votes by pivoting towards immigration. James F Downes and Matthew Loveless find that they were more successful if they were out of government at the time. Incumbent centre-right parties, on the other hand, struggled to cut through on the issue.
‘Populism’ and ‘liberalism’ are often viewed as being in opposition to one another, but many ‘populist’ parties nevertheless cite liberal values in making their case for particular policies, such as a reduction in immigration. Ben Marguliesassesses the case of Geert Wilders’ Party for Freedom and its approach to the six Caribbean islands that form part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. He argues that the case illustrates how populist parties can use liberal values instrumentally to push for favoured policies, even when there is no apparent clash between a liberal ‘in’ group and an illiberal ‘out’ group.
- Zsolt Enyedi: Populism is indeed a threat to democracy – and the positive case for it is rather feeble
- Chantal Mouffe: The only way to save democracy is to promote a ‘progressive populism’
- Yannis Stavrakakis: Anti-populism may be the real threat to democracy
- Ruth Wodak: Right-wing populist parties pose clear short and long-term dangers
- John Fitzgibbon: Populists are not anti-democratic, they are anti-liberal democracy
The French presidential election has already produced high drama, with Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen ultimately advancing to the second round on 7 May. But were their parallels with the first round of voting and developments in other European countries? Caterina Froio draws together three key ways in which the election has reflected Western European trends, but argues that Macron’s ability to successfully oppose the establishment from within stands out as unique in the European context.