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Capsule Review

Inside the Radical Right: The Development of Anti-Immigrant Parties in Western Europe

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Inside the Radical Right: The Development of Anti-Immigrant Parties in Western Europe
Inside the Radical Right: The Development of Anti-Immigrant Parties in Western Europe
By David Art
Cambridge University Press, 2011 288 pp. $25.99 Purchase

Why do radical right-wing parties with an anti-immigrant message succeed in some western European countries but fail in others? Why do the citizens of Belgium, Germany, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom seem more resistant to nationalist appeals than their counterparts in France, Italy, and the Netherlands? Analysts have suggested a number of variables, including electoral rules, immigration levels, and the ability of certain right-wing parties to craft neoliberal economic appeals. Art’s book concentrates on another factor: the ability of the parties to recruit and retain leaders and members who are reassuringly educated, experienced, and moderate. For this, they rely on long-standing political subcultures, built on historical memories and prevailing social norms. The rigor of Art’s analysis may be open to debate, but his book is a useful reminder of the tremendous diversity in how western European societies face modern political challenges.

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