Recent years have seen a global rise of the far-right, particularly in Europe. Some far-right parties, whose ideologies are associated with radical to exclusionary nationalism, populism, authoritarianism, racism, xenophobia, and conspiracy theories, have achieved double-digit results and entered national parliaments. Moreover, some party leaders have adopted a “strongman” approach, undermining confidence in democratic systems by promising to end their perceived dysfunction. Their personalised style of politics blurs the traditional line between democracies and autocracies. Disinformation campaigns and accusations of “fake news” often accompany the rise of far-right parties, strengthening the strongmen’s grip on power.
The rise of far-right parties and strongman politics poses a significant threat to democratic systems, mainstreaming far-right ideologies and gradually eroding social norms. This is concerning as it could lead to a shift in what is considered acceptable in terms of ideas, language, and behaviour within society. Elected governments can and have erected legal barriers to protect democracy from extremist parties (militant democracies).
Against this background, the OxPol series aims to shed light on the reasons for and consequences of the rise of far-right politics, the strongman qualities of far-right leaders, and the possible responses or defences of (militant) democracies.