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Democracies under siege

While the writing was already on the wall, the results from the Iowa Republican caucus and New Hampshire primary confirmed that Republican voters are willing to look past Donald Trump’s attempt at insurrection and numerous legal battles. As perplexing as it may be for liberals and Democrats, the GOP is all-in for Donald Trump. It seems that it is not only Trump’s message of White Christian nationalism that resonates with conservatives, although that is certainly part of his appeal. His election denialism has also struck a chord. Entrance polling ahead of the Iowa caucus found that a staggering 69% of caucus participants do not believe Biden won the election legitimately. But “Stop the Steal” applies to more than just the …

A Dialogic Turn in Online Far-Right Activism Far-right groups, which encompass a broad plethora of cognate paramilitary groups, political parties and protest movements with nativist, authoritarian and populist policy platforms (Mudde 2007; Carter 2018), have increasingly been able to mobilise, exploit, and weaponise the online space for activism and their campaigns. Recent research suggests that such groups have been able to exercise an ‘opportunistic pragmatism’ when using online platforms, creating new hubs of convergence and influencing elections in countries like Germany, Italy and Sweden (Davey & Ebner 2017 & 2018; Colliver et al 2018). Just as examples of recent far-right successes in the electoral arena now abound, such cases also demonstrate a shift away from parochial concerns in using the …

Hungary’s Mi Hazánk Mozgalom (Our Homeland Movement, MHM) party tells a classic tale of far-right politics. Formed after an internal dispute in the extreme-right Jobbik party, which had been in existence since 2003 and had begun to tone down its rhetoric, the MHM leadership’s plan was to occupy the supposedly vacant space on the far right of Hungarian politics. Despite being the third most successful list in the 2019 parliamentary elections, after Viktor Orbán’s Fidesz and the united opposition, led by Péter Márki-Zay, the party won only 2 out of 199 seats. MHM’s leader, László Toroczkai, is a respected figure on the Hungarian and international far-right scene, being one of the founders of the historically revisionist Sixty-Four Counties Youth Movement, …

The far right is gaining power in many liberal democracies. Far-right actors threaten democracy by spreading their nativist, exclusionary and authoritarian ideas through various means (Mudde 2019). They are protesting on the streets, mobilising support on social media, getting elected to parliaments and participating in governments. In Europe, far-right parties have increased their share of the vote in recent years and are currently in government in Italy, Hungary, Finland and Switzerland (Rooduijn et al. 2023). But how can we explain the entrenchment of the far right? I argue that to fully understand the entrenchment of the far right in democracies, we need to look beyond electoral politics and consider the mainstreaming of the far right in public debates, which I …

A few years ago, Germany hardly had any significant populist radical right or extreme right parties in its parliaments. Now, the Alternative for Germany (AfD) has strong local and regional roots and is represented in 14 of 16 state parliaments and in the Bundestag. The AfD: an imminent threat to democracy in Germany? Recent polls for the upcoming 2024 state elections in Brandenburg, Thuringia and Saxony show the AfD as the strongest force in all three states, with support of up to 32% and 35%. Contrary to the oft-repeated perception that the AfD is an East German phenomenon, recent elections in Hesse and Bavaria in October of this year, where the party secured 18.4% and 14.6% respectively, coupled with national …

Geert Wilders’ PVV comes first in Dutch elections for the first time In the recent general election in the Netherlands, the far-right Party for Freedom (Partij voor de Vrijheid, PVV), led by Geert Wilders, won as many as 37 of the 150 seats in the lower house of parliament, with 25 per cent of the vote, more than double its 11 per cent in the 2021 election. The PVV has about half of the 76 seats needed for a majority. The victory comes after Prime Minister Mark Rutte, who has led the “frugal” country for 13 years, surprised everyone by announcing his intention to resign and retire from politics. In second place is the Green-Labour alliance, consisting of the Labour …

Several countries around the world have recently witnessed very public displays of radical right behaviour. For example, during a protest in Chemnitz, Germany, in the summer of 2018, some demonstrators were seen giving a Nazi salute. Similarly, a year earlier during a protest in Charlottesville, VA, Charlottesville, VA, United States some demonstrators displayed confederate flags and swastikas. What explains this increased willingness to openly express radical right views? Explicit support for the radical right: A reflection of changing perceptions of the cost of support In a recent paper, I argue that these trends do not necessarily mean that individuals in these societies are becoming more extremist. They may also reflect a weakening of social norms against the expression of radical …

Much research has established that radical right parties tend to act as anti-feminist actors, opposing feminist policy proposals, but also instrumentalise certain feminist policy goals for their own objectives. Research is more inconclusive about the gender values of radical right voters. Does feminism even matter to these voters? If so, what are their stances? In my recently published article, I use interviews with radical right voters to investigate these questions. In recent years and across various democracies, the rise of the radical right and its implications for women’s and LGBTQI+ rights have become increasingly important. A growing group of people are voting for these often openly anti-feminist parties. While much research shows that these voters are most strongly motivated by …