Skip to main content

The impact of Populist Radical Right Parties on socio-economic policies

  • Leonce Röth (a1), Alexandre Afonso (a2) and Dennis C. Spies (a1)

Because they are now members of most Western European parliaments, Populist Radical Right Parties (PRRPs) have the potential to influence the formulation of socio-economic policies. However, scholarly attention so far has nearly exclusively focussed on the impact of PRRPs on what is considered their ‘core issue’, that is migration policy. In this paper, we provide the first mixed methods comparative study of the impact of PRRPs on redistributive and (de-)regulative economic policies. Combining quantitative data with qualitative case studies, our results show that the participation of PRRPs in right-wing governments has noteworthy implications for socio-economic policies. Due to the heterogeneous constituencies of PRRPs, these parties not only refrain from welfare state retrenchment but are also less inclined to engage in deregulation compared with right-wing governments without PRRP participation.

  • View HTML
    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      The impact of Populist Radical Right Parties on socio-economic policies
      Available formats
      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      The impact of Populist Radical Right Parties on socio-economic policies
      Available formats
      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      The impact of Populist Radical Right Parties on socio-economic policies
      Available formats
Corresponding author
Hide All
Abiad, A. and Mody, A. (2005), ‘Financial reform: what shakes it? What shapes it?’, American Economic Review 95(1): 6688.
Afonso, A. (2015), ‘Choosing whom to betray: populist right-wing parties, welfare state reforms and the trade-off between office and votes’, European Political Science Review 7(2): 271292.
Afonso, A. and Papadopoulos, Y. (2015), ‘How the populist radical right transformed Swiss welfare politics: from compromises to polarization’, Swiss Political Science Review 21(4): 617635.
Afonso, A. and Rennwald, L. (2017), ‘Social class and the changing welfare state agenda of Populist Radical Right Parties in Europe’, in P. Manow and B. Palier (eds), Electoral Realignments and Welfare State Transformations in Europe, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Aichholzer, J., Kritzinger, S., Wagner, M. and Zeglovits, E. (2014), ‘How has radical right support transformed established political conflicts? The case of Austria’, West European Politics 37(1): 113137.
Akkerman, T. (2012), ‘Comparing radical right parties in government: immigration and integration policies in nine countries (1996–2010)’, West European Politics 35(3): 511529.
Akkerman, T. and De Lange, S.L. (2012), ‘Radical right parties in office: incumbency records and the electoral cost of governing’, Government and Opposition 47(4): 574596.
Anderson, K.M. and Immergut, E.M. (2007), ‘Sweden: after social democratic hegemony’, in E.M. Immergut, K.M. Anderson and I. Schulze (eds), The Handbook of West European Pension Politics, Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 349395.
Aranson, P.H. and Ordeshook, P.C. (1981), ‘Regulation, redistribution, and public choice’, Public Choice 37(1): 69100.
Arzheimer, K. (2012), ‘Working class parties 2.0? Competition between centre left and extreme right parties’, in J. Rydgren (ed.) , Class Politics and the Radical Right, London and New York: Routledge, pp. 7590.
Arzheimer, K. and Carter, E.L. (2003), ‘Explaining variation in the extreme right vote: the individual and the political environment’. Keele European Parties Research Unit Working Paper No. 19, Keele University, Keele.
Arzheimer, K. and Carter, E.L. (2009), ‘Christian religiosity and voting for West European radical right parties’, West European Politics 32(5): 9851011.
Bale, T. (2003), ‘Cinderella and her ugly sisters: the mainstream and extreme right in Europe’s bipolarising party systems’, West European Politics 26(3): 6790.
Bale, T. (2008), ‘Turning round the telescope. centre-right parties and immigration and integration policy in Europe 1’, Journal of European Public Policy 15(3): 315330.
Bale, T. and Bergman, T. (2006), ‘Captives no longer, but servants still? Contract parliamentarism and the new minority governance in Sweden and New Zealand’, Government and Opposition 41(3): 422449.
Beck, N. and Katz, J.N. (1995), ‘What to do (and not to do) with time-series cross-section data’, American Political Science Review 89(3): 634647.
Belke, A. and Schneider, F. (2003), ‘Privatization in Austria: some theoretical reasons and performance measures’. CESifo Conference, November 1–2, 2003, CESifo, Villa La Collina, Cadenabbia, Italy.
Berliner Zeitung (1997), ‘Österreichs Regierungsparteien streiten wegen der Privatisierung der “Creditanstalt” Koalitionskrise in Wien’, January 10. Retrieved 29 May 2017 from
Betz, H.-G. (1994), Radical Right-Wing Populism in Western Europe, New York: St. Martin’s Press.
Betz, H.-G. (2002), ‘Conditions favoring the success and failure of radical right-wing populist parties in contemporary democracies’, in Y. Mény and Y. Surel (eds), Democracies and the Populist Challenge, Houndmills: Palgrave, pp. 197213.
Betz, H.-G. and Johnson, C. (2004), ‘Against the current – stemming the tide: the nostalgic ideology of the contemporary radical populist right’, Journal of Political Ideologies 9(3): 311327.
Carter, E. (2005), The Extreme Right in Western Europe: Success or Failure?, Manchester: Manchester University Press.
Cole, A. (2005), ‘Old right or new right? The ideological positioning of parties of the far right’, European Journal of Political Research 44(2): 203230.
Culpepper, P.D. (2010), Quiet Politics: Business Power and Corporate Control in Europe and Japan, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Davidsson, J.B. and Emmenegger, P. (2013), ‘Defending the organisation, not the members: unions and the reform of job security legislation in Western Europe’, European Journal of Political Research 52(3): 339363.
De Lange, S.L. (2007), ‘A new winning formula? The programmatic appeal of the radical right’, Party Politics 13(4): 411435.
De Lange, S.L. (2008), ‘From pariah to power: the government participation of radical right-wing populist parties in West European democracies’. Doctoral dissertation, University of Antwerp, Antwerp, Belgium.
De Lange, S.L. (2012), ‘New alliances: why mainstream parties govern with radical right-wing populist parties’, Political Studies 60(4): 899918.
Ditz, J. (2010), ‘Economic policies and economic change’, in G. Bischof and F. Plasser (eds), The Schüssel Era in Austria, New Orleans, LA: University of New Orleans Press, pp. 235261.
Döring, H. and Manow, P. (2012), ‘Parliament and Government Composition Database (ParlGov): an infrastructure for empirical information on parties, elections and governments in modern democracies’, Version 12/10–15 October 2012. Retrieved 10 November 2015 from
Ennser-Jedenastik, L. (2016), ‘A welfare state for whom? A group‐based account of the Austrian Freedom Party’s social policy profile’, Swiss Political Science Review 22(3): 409427.
Gabel, M.J. and Huber, J.D. (2000), ‘Putting parties in their place: inferring party left-right ideological positions from party manifestos data’, American Journal of Political Science 44(1): 94103.
Gerring, J. (2007), Case Study Research: Principles and Practices, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Giger, N. and Nelson, M. (2011), ‘The electoral consequences of welfare state retrenchment: blame avoidance or credit claiming in the era of permanent austerity?’, European Journal of Political Research 50(1): 123.
Hainmueller, J. and Xu, Y. (2011), ‘Ebalance: a stata package for entropy balancing’, Journal of Statistical Software 54(7): 118.
Häusermann, S., Picot, G. and Geering, D. (2013), ‘Rethinking party politics and the welfare state – recent advances in the literature’, British Journal of Political Science 43(1): 221240.
Heinisch, R. (2003), ‘Success in opposition – failure in government: explaining the performance of right-wing populist parties in public office’, West European Politics 26(3): 91130.
Höpner, M. and Schäfer, A. (2012), ‘Integration among unequals. How the heterogeneity of European varieties of capitalism shapes the social and democratic potential of the EU’, MPIfG Discussion Paper No. 12/5. Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies, Cologne, Germany.
Iacus, S.M., King, G. and Porro, G. (2012), ‘Causal inference without balance checking: coarsened exact matching’, Political Analysis 20(4): 124.
Ignazi, P. (2003), Extreme Right Parties in Western Europe, New York: Oxford University Press.
Imbens, G. (2015), ‘Matching methods in practice: three examples’, Journal of Human Resources 50(2): 373419.
Ivarsflaten, E. (2005), ‘The vulnerable populist right parties: no economic realignment fuelling their electoral success’, European Journal of Political Research 44(3): 465492.
Iversen, T. and Cusack, T.R. (2000), ‘The causes of welfare state expansion: deindustrialization or globalization?’, World Politics 52(3): 313349.
Jensen, C. (2014), The Right and the Welfare State, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Karlhofer, F. and Tálos, E. (2000), ‘Sozialpartnerschaft unter Druck: Trends und Szenarien’, in A. Pelinka, F. Plasser and W. Meixner (eds), Die Zukunft der Österreichischen Demokratie: Trends, Prognosen und Szenarien, Vienna: Signum, pp. 381402.
Kepplinger, J. (2009), Privatisierungen unter ÖVP-FPÖ/BZÖ., Linz: Landesrat Oberösterreich.
King, G., Nielsen, R., Coberley, C., Pope, J.E. and Wells, A. (2011), ‘Comparative effectiveness of matching methods for causal inference’. Unpublished manuscript. Retrieved 10 November 2015 from psparadox.pdf
Kitschelt, H. (1995), The Radical Right in Western Europe: A Comparative Analysis, Ann Arbor, MI: The University of Michigan Press.
Kitschelt, H. (2004), Diversification and Reconfiguration of Party Systems in Postindustrial Democracies (Europäische Politik (03/2004)), Bonn: International Policy Analysis Unit, Friedrich-Ebert-Foundation.
Kitschelt, H. (2007), ‘Growth and persistence of the radical right in postindustrial democracies: advances and challenges in comparative research’, West European Politics 30(5): 11761206.
Kittel, B. (2006), ‘A crazy methodology? On the limits of macro-quantitative social science research’, International Sociology 21(5): 647677.
Kriesi, H., Grande, E., Lachat, R., Dolezal, M., Bornschier, S. and Frey, T. (2006), ‘Globalization and the transformation of the national political space: six European countries compared’, European Journal of Political Research 45(6): 921956.
Lieberman, E.S. (2005), ‘Nested analysis as a mixed-method strategy for comparative research’, American Political Science Review 99(3): 435452.
Lowi, T.J. (1972), ‘Four systems of policy, politics, and choice’, Public Administration Review 32(4): 298310.
Luther, K.R. (2010), ‘Governing with right-wing populists and managing the consequences: Schüssel and the FPÖ’, in G. Bischof and F. Plasser (eds), The Schüssel Era in Austria, Innsbruck: Innsbruck University Press, pp. 79103.
McGann, A. and Kitschelt, H. (2005), ‘The radical right in the Alps: evolution of support for the Swiss SVP and Austrian FPÖ’, Party Politics 11(2): 147171.
Minkenberg, M. (2001), ‘The radical right in public office: agenda-setting and policy effects’, West European Politics 24(4): 121.
Mudde, C. (2007), Populist Radical Right Parties in Europe, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Mudde, C. (2013), ‘Three decades of Populist Radical Right Parties in Western Europe: so what?’, European Journal of Political Research 52(1): 119.
Narud, H.M. (1995), ‘Coalition termination in Norway: models and cases’, Scandinavian Political Studies 18(1): 124.
Norris, P. (2005), Radical Right: Voters and Parties in the Electoral Market, New York: Cambridge University Press.
Obinger, H. and Tálos, E. (2006), Sozialstaat Österreich zwischen Kontinuität und Umbau. Eine Bilanz der ÖVP/FPÖ/BZÖ-Koalition, Wiesbaden: VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften.
Obinger, H. and Tálos, E. (2010), ‘Janus-faced developments in a prototypical Bismarckian welfare state. Welfare reforms in Austria since the 1970s’, in Bruno Palier (eds), A Long Goodbye to Bismarck? The Politics of Welfare Reform in Continental Europe, Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, pp. 101128.
Obinger, H., Schmitt, C. and Zohlnhöfer, R. (2014), ‘Partisan politics and privatization in OECD countries’, Comparative Political Studies 47(9): 12941323.
OECD (2011), ‘Product market regulation database’. Retrieved 10 November 2015 from
OECD (2013), ‘OECD indicators of employment protection’, Annual time series data 1985--2013. Retrieved 10 November 2015 from
Pierson, P. (1996), ‘The new politics of the welfare state’, World Politics 48(2): 143179.
Profil (2009), ‘Kärnten-Pleite: Haiders Vorzeigeland steht vor dem Finanzkollaps’. December 5. Retrieved 29 May 2017 from
Rohlfing, I. (2008), ‘What you see and what you get: pitfalls and principles of nested analysis in comparative research’, Comparative Political Studies 41(11): 14921514.
Röth, L. (2017), ‘Equivalence presupposes validity. Toward comparable party positions on the market dimension’. Paper prepared for EPSA Conference 2017, June 22--24, Milan.
Röth, L., Kaiser, A., Varol, Ç. and Sadioğlu, U. (2016), ‘Centre‐periphery conflict and ideological distance in Turkey’, Swiss Political Science Review 22(4): 585607.
Rovny, J. (2013), ‘Where do radical right parties stand? Position blurring in multidimensional competition’, European Political Science Review 5(1): 126.
Schludi, M. (2005), The Reform of Bismarckian Pension Systems, Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press.
Schmitt, C. (2015), ‘Panel data analysis and partisan variables: how periodization does influence partisan effects’, Journal of European Public Policy 23(10): 14421459.
Schumacher, G. and Kersbergen, K.v. (2014), ‘Do mainstream parties adapt to the welfare chauvinism of populist parties?’, Party Politics 22(3): 300312.
Scruggs, L. (2014), ‘Social welfare generosity scores in CWED 2: a methodological genealogy’. CWED Working Paper No. 01, Storrs, CT February.
Scruggs, L., Jahn, D. and Kuitto, K. (2014), ‘Comparative welfare entitlements dataset 2’, Version 2014-03. University of Connecticut and University of Greifswald. Retrieved 10 November 2015 from
Soroka, S.N., Johnston, R., Kevins, A., Banting, K. and Kymlicka, W. (2016), ‘Migration and welfare state spending’, European Political Science Review 8(2): 173194.
Spies, D.C. (2013), ‘Explaining working-class support for extreme right parties: a party competition approach’, Acta Politica 48(3): 296325.
Spies, D.C. and Franzmann, S. (2011), ‘A two-dimensional approach on the political opportunity structure of extreme right parties in Western Europe’, West European Politics 34(5): 10441069.
Van der Brug, W. and Fennema, M. (2003), ‘Protest or mainstream? How the European anti-immigrant parties develop into two separate groups by 1999’, European Journal of Political Research 42(1): 5576.
Van der Brug, W. and Fennema, M. (2007), ‘What causes people to vote for a radical-right party? A review of recent work’, International Journal of Public Opinion Research 19(4): 474487.
Van der Brug, W. and Van Spanje, J. (2009), ‘Immigration, Europe and the “new” cultural dimension’, European Journal of Political Research 48(1): 309334.
Van Spanje, J. and Van der Brug, W. (2007), ‘The party as pariah: the exclusion of anti-immigrant parties and its effect on their ideological positions’, West European Politics 30(5): 10221040.
Verbeek, B. and Zaslove, A. (2015), ‘The impact of Populist Radical Right Parties on foreign policy: the northern league as a junior coalition partner in the Berlusconi governments’, European Political Science Review 7(4): 525546.
Weller, N. and Barnes, J. (2014), Finding Pathways: Mixed-Method Research for Studying Causal Mechanisms, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Zaslove, A. (2004), ‘Closing the door? The ideology and impact of radical right populism on immigration policy in Austria and Italy’, Journal of Political Ideologies 9(1): 99118.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

European Political Science Review
  • ISSN: 1755-7739
  • EISSN: 1755-7747
  • URL: /core/journals/european-political-science-review
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Type Description Title
Supplementary materials

Röth supplementary material
Röth supplementary material 1

 Word (17 KB)
17 KB
Supplementary materials

Röth supplementary material
Röth supplementary material 2

 Word (65 KB)
65 KB


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed