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Organizing Against Democracy
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Book description

Organizing Against Democracy investigates some of the most important challenges modern democracies face, filling a distinctive gap in the literature, both empirically and theoretically. Ellinas examines the attempts of three of the most extreme European far-right parties to establish roots in local societies, and the responses of democratic actors. He offers a theory of local party development to analyze the many factors affecting the evolution of far-right parties at the subnational level. Using extraordinarily rich data, the author examines the 'lives' of local far-right party organizations in Greece, Germany and Slovakia, studying thousands of party activities and interviewing dozens of party leaders and functionaries, and antifascists. He goes on to explore how and why extreme parties succeed in some local settings while, in others, they fail. This book broadens our understanding of right-wing extremism, illuminating the factors limiting its corrosiveness.


'This is a path-breaking study. Though we have long recognized that all politics are local, few, if any, scholars have examined far-right parties as local organizations. Ellinas provides extensive local interviews and event analyses that are deeply impressive on their own. But his greatest contribution is to use these primary sources as the foundation for a compelling argument about party success and failure. With strong implications for how institutional actors and local communities should react to the threats that the far-right presents, this book is not only very good, but also much needed.'

Nancy Bermeo - Princeton University and University of Oxford

'Many great studies of the far-right view this topic from the top down, and we need more work that looks at it from the ground up. This absorbing and impressively detailed book does exactly that. Ellinas clearly demonstrates that local-level organization, or the lack thereof, matters. For those concerned about the rise of extremism, this book also suggests, optimistically, that counter-mobilisation can make a difference.'

Tim Bale - Queen Mary University of London

'In this clinical analysis of some of Europe’s most openly racist and violent political movements, Antonis A. Ellinas makes a compelling case for a robust political and societal response … His exhaustive and meticulous research offers both a roadmap for those hoping to contain these forces, as well as a warning that dedicated right-wing extremists will remain an enduring feature of liberal democracy.'

David Art - Tufts University, Massachusetts

'Thanks to its fresh analytical perspective and meticulous research, Organizing against Democracy not only offers a landmark contribution on Greece’s Golden Dawn, but also opens up a whole new line of investigation on European right-wing extremism. Unlike most scholars, Ellinas puts the local context front and center of his explanation of the rise of the extreme right, offering a uniquely rich set of empirical evidence. This careful and insightful close-range analysis greatly enhances our comparative understanding of this troubling phenomenon.'

Giovanni Capoccia - University of Oxford

'Parties' organizational set-up interacts with their strategies and electoral support, but few studies probe into this relationship. Ellinas deals with this subject through a detailed empirical analysis of the local organizational dynamics of select extreme radical right-wing parties in Europe, particularly Greece’s Golden Dawn. He has completed a model investigation on which others should be encouraged to build.'

Herbert Kitschelt - Duke University, North Carolina

'Ellinas delves where few have gone before: into the murky and dangerous internal politics of three extreme right-wing parties located across Europe. It is a forensic analysis of their internal organization and activities to try to determine what helps or hinders their growth. As such, this timely and important study provides warnings for the future of our democratic systems in periods of stress. This is high-quality political science.'

Kevin Featherstone - London School of Economics and Political Science

‘Challenges the predominant focus on national right-wing parties' endogenous characteristics, national electoral results, and extremist leaders.'

T. D. Lancaster Source: Choice

‘Ellinas provides a timely and ambitious project and suggests ample avenues for future scholarship.’

Trevor Allen Source: Perspectives on Politics

‘The strength of this book lies in the combination of national politics with the microdynamics of local development … the book fully convinces with its comprehensive framework, compelling argumentation, and clear writing style. Overall, Antonis Ellinas provides a seminal work on the organizational effectiveness of extreme rightwing parties. The book will be of interest to scholars of comparative (party) politics and of modern Greece.’

Maik Fielitz Source: Journal of Modern Greek Studies

'Many great studies of the far-right view this topic from the top down, and we need more work that looks at it from the ground up. This absorbing and impressively detailed book does exactly that. Ellinas clearly demonstrates that local-level organization, or the lack thereof, matters. For those concerned about the rise of extremism, this book also suggests, optimistically, that counter-mobilisation can make a difference.'

Tim Bale Source: Sage Journals

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