Elections 2017

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The United Kingdom Independence Party – UK Election Report

By Will Allchorn and Jocelyn Evans (University of Leeds)

The next 2018 local election looks very likely to record the completion of the full party life-cycle for the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP). For most of its history, UKIP was electorally irrelevant. Founded in 1993 as a way of converting Conservatives to hard Euroscepticism, its early attempts at electoral success were thwarted by infighting and a stronger Eurosceptic opponent (such as James Goldsmith’s Referendum Party). Briefly successful under the leadership of Robert Kilroy-Silk in 2004, it wasn’t until Nigel Farage, a former City banker and one of UKIP’s first MEPs, assumed the leadership for the second time in November 2010 that the party experienced a step-change in its electoral success, transforming UKIP from a single-issue movement into a party much closer to the populist radical right party type prevalent elsewhere in Europe, fusing anti-EU politics with socially conservative, anti-migrant, and anti-elitist messages.

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The Party for Freedom in the April 2017 Dutch national election

By Eelco Harteveld and Sarah de Lange

The April 2017 Dutch national elections received an unusual amount of attention from international media outlets like the New York Times, the Economist, or CNN. Many commentators regarded the elections as a first potential sign of a Patriotic Spring in which populist radical right parties would blossom. They believed that - following the Brexit and Trump victories in 2016 - anything was possible for the populist radical right. The commentators expected the Dutch populist radical right Party for Freedom (PVV) to become the largest party in parliament and speculated that its leader Geert Wilders could become the Dutch prime minister. The incumbent Prime Minister Mark Rutte of the People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) added to the expectations by framing the elections as a run-off between his party and the PVV, or between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ populism. He described the elections as the ‘quarter finales’, and thus a trial run for the German and French elections later that year.

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The German Alternative für Deutschland (AfD)

By Carl Berning and Kai Arzheimer

The 2017 general election disrupted the German party system. The press called it a “tectonic shift” and a “historic election”, but what exactly happened? The short answer: a radical populist right party, the Alternative für Deutschland (AfD), is part of the 19th German Bundestag. The long answer involves the transformation of a new party, a migration crisis, and substantial losses for the Social and Christian Democrats.

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The Front National (FN) in France

By Gilles Ivaldi and Jocelyn Evans

The Front National (FN) is one of the oldest populist radical right parties in Europe. It emerged from a coalition of small far-right groups in the early 1970s. The FN remained irrelevant until it made its first electoral breakthrough, winning 11 per cent in the 1984 European elections. Since the mid-1980s, the FN has received 9–18 per cent of the vote in French presidential and legislative elections, politicizing typical radical right issues like immigration and law-and-order. It has established itself as a major political actor in the French political system, but has nonetheless remained a political pariah isolated by the so-called ‘cordon sanitaire’ between it and the mainstream right.

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