Decades Under the Influence

How Europe's Parties Have Been Shifting Right

Leaders of the Freedom Party of Austria, Heinz-Christian Strache (right), Norbert Hofer, and Herbert Kickl in Parliament in Vienna, November 2017. Leonhard Foeger / Reuters

In recent years, Europe’s radical-right parties have had an extraordinary degree of success. In 2017, far-right candidates achieved their best-ever results in presidential elections in Austria and France. After Italy’s parliamentary election in March, the radical-right Lega became the largest party in the conservative coalition. Radical-right parties have entered coalition governments in Austria and Norway, and in Denmark the Danish People’s Party currently supports the center-right minority government. In Germany and the Netherlands, meanwhile, radical-right parties made substantial gains in the 2017 parliamentary elections.

These electoral victories have provoked alarm, leading many observers to ask whether radical-right parties are gaining new and unprecedented influence in European politics. Yet these parties have been around in European party systems for a long time: in France, the National Front won 35 seats in the 1986 legislative elections, and Austria’s Freedom Party (FPÖ) was a junior partner in government from 2000 to 2005. What’s more,

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