A drunken guest in Europe?

The influence of populist radical right parties on democratic quality
Aufsätze

Abstract

This paper examines the influence of populist radical-right parties (PRRPs) on the democratic quality in Europe. We build on both, theoretical work and qualitative evaluations on the influence of populism on democratic quality. We follow Cas Mudde and Cristobál Rovira Kaltwasser’s (2012) distinction between populism in government and populism in opposition. We expect populism in opposition to function as a corrective. That is to say, it acts as a “drunken guest” who blurts out painful truths (e. g. issues which are ignored by other parties or shortcomings of policy outputs). In government, however, it is likely to harm democratic quality since it does not respect the rules of public contestation (e. g. undermining the legitimacy of democratic institutions). Furthermore, we contend that the effect’s size is moderated by the level of consolidation, and in the case of PRRPs in government, by the specific type of government.

Our empirical tests reveal evidence for the effects of PRRPs in government. We further demonstrate the moderating influence of the cabinet type, adding to the existing literature by offering a comparative, large-n study and testing qualitative derived theory in a cross country setting.

Keywords

Populism Democratic Quality Europe Comparative Politics 

Ein betrunkener Gast?

Der Einfluss rechtspopulistischer Parteien auf Demokratiequalität

Zusammenfassung

Dieser Artikel untersucht den Einfluss von rechtspopulistischen Parteien (PRRPs) auf die Demokratiequalität in Europa. Basierend auf dem theoretischen Rahmen von Cas Mudde und Cristobál Rovira Kaltwasser (2012) unterscheiden wir zwischen Effekten von Populismus in der Opposition und Populismus in der Regierung. Wir erwarten, dass populistische Parteien in der Opposition als Korrektiv fungieren können. Diese nehmen die Rolle eines „betrunkenen Gastes“ ein, der unangenehme Wahrheiten ausspricht. In der Regierung hingegen ist es wahrscheinlicher, dass sich diese Parteien negativ auf die Demokratiequalität auswirken, da sie die Regeln öffentlichen und politischen Wettbewerbs nicht einhalten (z. B. Unterminierung der Legitimität demokratischer Organisationen). Darüber hinaus argumentieren wir, dass die Effekte durch den Grad der demokratischen Konsolidierung sowie bei Regierungsbeteiligung durch den Koalitionstypus moderiert werden.

Unsere empirische Evidenz unterstützt unsere Argumente für den Effekt von PRRPs in der Regierung sowie den moderierenden Einfluss des Kabinetttyps. Mit der vergleichend ausgelegten Studie über mehrere Länder leisten wir einen theoretischen und empirischen Beitrag zur aktuellen Debatte.

Schlüsselwörter

Populismus Demokratiequalität Europa Vergleichende Politik 

Notes

Acknowledgements

The authors are grateful to Zorzeta Bakaki, Martin Dolezal, Andreas Duer, Franz Fallend, Jessica Fortin-Rittberger, Corinna Kröber, Reinhard Heinisch, Liam F. McGrath, Gert Pickel, Gabriele Spilker, Steven M. Van Hauwaert, the editors of the journal and the anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments. We presented earlier versions of this paper at the Annual Austrian Political Science Conference (Vienna/November 2014), the Comparative Section Conference of the DVPW (Hamburg/February 2015) and the Contemporary Populism in Europe Conference (Prague/May 2015) and are grateful for the comments by all participants of the panels. Christian Schimpf acknowledges the support by the University of Mannheim’s Graduate School of Economic and Social Sciences funded by the German Research Foundation. All mistakes remain ours.

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Copyright information

© Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.IFW C 44ETH ZürichZurichSwitzerland
  2. 2.GESIS Leibniz Institut für SozialwissenschaftenGraduate School of Economics and Social Sciences (University of Mannheim)MannheimGermany

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