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Niche Party Success and Mainstream Party Policy Shifts – How Green and Radical Right Parties Differ in Their Impact


This article investigates the impact of niche party success on the policy agendas of mainstream parties. Following from the expected electoral effects of issue politicization, the success of radical right and green parties will cause different reactions from mainstream parties. While mainstream parties emphasize anti-immigrant positions in response to radical right success, green party success will have the opposite effect for environmental issues. Since green parties constitute issue owners, their success will make established parties de-emphasize the environment. Analyzing time-series cross-section data for sixteen Western European countries from 1980 to 2011, this article empirically establishes that green and radical right parties differ in their effect on mainstream party behavior and that their impact depends on the ideological position and past electoral performance of the mainstream parties.

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Humboldt-University, Berlin (email: Earlier versions of this article were presented at the Annual Meeting of the Midwest Political Science Association (2013, Chicago) and at the General Conference of the European Political Science Association (2013, Barcelona). The author wishes to thank Pablo Barberá, Christoffer Green-Pedersen, Ellen Immergut, Martin Kroh, Nicolas Merz, Matthias Orlowski, Wouter van der Brug, Markus Wagner and Bernhard Wessels as well as three anonymous reviewers and the editor for their valuable comments, and the German National Science Foundation for financial support. Data replication sets and online appendices are available at 10.1017/S0007123414000155.

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British Journal of Political Science
  • ISSN: 0007-1234
  • EISSN: 1469-2112
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