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Conditions of far-right strength in contemporary Western Europe: an application of Kitschelt's theory*

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Applying the demand-side claims of Kitschelt's theory, and the expectation that electoral systems affect voter choice, this article provides an explanation of cross-national variation in support for new radical right (NRR) parties between 1982 and 1995. After discussing concepts and measures, two versions of qualitative comparative analysis (Boolean analysis and fuzzy-set analysis) are applied to data for ten West European countries. The results suggest that, in combination with electoral systems that had larger district magnitudes, NRR strength resulted from a restructuring of the space of party competition due to post-industrialism and growth in the welfare state. Convergence between major parties of the left and right was not among the combination of conditions that led to NRR success. Apart from demonstrating that fuzzy-set analysis can yield a simpler explanation than Boolean analysis, this study reveals anomalous NRR outcomes for Austria, Belgium and France.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Toronto, Canada

Publication date: October 1, 2005

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