From radical right to neo-nationalist


In this article, we investigate the ideology of the populist radical right (PRR) and the extent to which its political message has changed over time. In doing so, we also judge the usefulness of the PRR-tag. Like seminal scholarship on these parties, we contend that both economic and social positions are relevant for contemporary radical right parties. Further, we argue that contemporary parties’ stances are indicative of a nationalist ideology. Using the Manifesto Project Dataset, we investigate radical right policy preferences between 1970 and 2015. Results indicate that right-wing economic stances are more prevalent prior to the twenty-first century and that radical right parties increasingly make economically leftist claims. Results also demonstrate that radical right parties are not always the farthest to right in national political spaces. Further, we show that contemporary parties make nationalist claims. Indeed, nationalism not only increasingly characterizes these parties but also increasingly distinguishes them from other major party families, whose average positions over time are globalist. We argue that contemporary radical right parties are better conceptualized and described as neo-nationalist, a label consistent with both their social and economic positions.

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Fig. 1

Source: Manifesto Project (MRG/CMP/MARPOR), Version 2016b

Fig. 2

Source: Manifesto Project (MRG/CMP/MARPOR), Version 2016b

Fig. 3

Source: Manifesto Project (MRG/CMP/MARPOR), Version 2016b

Fig. 4

Source: Manifesto Project (MRG/CMP/MARPOR), Version 2016b

Fig. 5

Source: Manifesto Project (MRG/CMP/MARPOR), Version 2016b

Fig. 6

Source: Manifesto Project (MRG/CMP/MARPOR), Version 2016b

Fig. 7

Source: Manifesto Project (MRG/CMP/MARPOR), Version 2016b


  1. 1.

    See Mudde (2007) for a discussion of populism as a feature of European PRR parties. See Rooduijn and Akkerman (2015) for analysis of populist discourse of 32 parties described as radical right or radical left in 5 countries between 1989 and 2008.

  2. 2.

    We removed the variable freedom and human rights (per201) from the measure because there is no consensus in the political manifesto literature about whether this is a right/conservative or a left/progressive indicator. The relative positioning of party families is unaffected by its removal.

  3. 3.

    Economic axis (right–left):

    Σ [free enterprise (per401) + incentives (per402) + protectionism: negative (per407) + economic orthodoxy (per414) + welfare state limitation (per 505)] − Σ [market regulation (per403) + economic planning (per404) + protectionism: positive (per406) + controlled economy (per412) + nationalization (per413) + welfare state expansion (per504) + education expansion (per506) + labor groups: positive (per701)]

    Social axis (progressive/libertarian-conservative/authoritarian):

    Σ [anti-imperialism: positive (per103) + military: negative (per105) + peace: positive (per106) + internationalism: positive (per107) + democracy (per202)] − Σ [military: positive (per104) + constitutionalism: positive (per203) + political authority (per305) + national way of life: positive (per601) + traditional morality: positive (per603) + law and order (per605) + social harmony (per606)].

  4. 4.


    Σ [social(national way of life: positive(per601) + multiculturalism: negative (per608)) + political(internationalism: negative (per109) + European Community/Union: negative (per110) + military/defense: positive (per104)) + economic(protectionism: positive (per406)] − Σ [social(national way of life: negative (per602) + multiculturalism: positive (per607)) + political(internationalism: positive (per107) + European Community/Union: positive (per108) + military/defense: negative (per105)) + economic(protectionism: negative (per407)].

  5. 5.

    Halikiopoulou et al. (2012) refer to these components as ethnic, cultural, territorial, and economic. We use social to describe the ethnic and cultural elements and political to refer to what they call territorial.

  6. 6.

    Greek election manifestos constitute a third of the sample between 2010 and 2015, but this does not explain the increase in nationalism. The average share in the 2010s is 23.36. Excluding all Greek manifestos, the average share of nationalist sentiments is 20.74.


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Eger, M.A., Valdez, S. From radical right to neo-nationalist. Eur Polit Sci 18, 379–399 (2019).

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  • Euroscepticism
  • Extreme right
  • Extreme right-wing populist
  • Immigration
  • Radical right
  • Nationalism
  • Populist radical right