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The Impact of Radical Right-Wing Parties on the Positions of Mainstream Parties Regarding Multiculturalism

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journal contribution
posted on 25.02.2015, 12:26 by Kyung Joon Han

What are the political effects of rising radical right-wing parties (RRPs) in Western Europe? Does the rise of the parties drive mainstream parties (MPs) to become more restrictive on issues mobilised by RRPs, such as multiculturalism? Analysing manifesto data from 1981 to 2008, it is found that the rise of RRPs makes right-wing MPs adopt more restrictive positions regarding multiculturalism. However, left-wing MPs do so only when the opinion of party supporters on foreigners becomes more negative or when the parties lost more votes in the previous election than their opponent right-wing MPs did. The result implies that niche parties with extremist positions can benefit from their own electoral success by dragging MPs toward their own positions. However, the impact of rising niche parties on MPs should be understood against a broader background of party competition, and the impact can be dissimilar between MPs with different ideological commitment and strategic opportunities.