Comparative European Politics

, Volume 17, Issue 1, pp 132–154 | Cite as

On far right parties, master frames and trans-national diffusion: understanding far right party development in Western Europe

  • Steven M. Van HauwaertEmail author
Original Article


A common assumption throughout the far right party (FRP) literature is that of developmental independence between FRPs, meaning explanatory accounts typically (i) look at FRPs as structurally independent political agents and (ii) examine their development as context-unique processes, in the absence of cross-sectional implications. Three initial observations can refute the plausibility and larger validity of such a claim. First, the dissemination of a relatively stable and comparable master frame between FRPs increases their similarities. Second, it is possible to distinguish the FN as the primary source (or innovator) of those similarities. Third, the adoption rate of the master frame illustrates spatial and temporal heterogeneity. Together, these observations support this study’s claim that we should think of FRP development in terms of interdependence. More specifically, this study theorises and illustrates developmental interdependence between FRPs using trans-national diffusion dynamics. Drawing from unique interview evidence and using master frame adoption as the primary process under analysis, this study also describes learning and emulation as the core mechanisms that underlie trans-national diffusion between FRPs. In the end, this theorisation is not intended to replace existing, more variable-oriented and structural explanations of FRP development, but rather to complement them and add to what we already know about FRPs.


Far right parties Master frame adoption Developmental interdependence Trans-national diffusion Interviews 



Preliminary versions of this manuscript have been presented at various locations, including the MPSA Conference in Chicago and the ELECDEM final conference in Florence. I am grateful to participants and panel members for their feedback, comments and suggestions. In particular, I would like to thank the anonymous reviewers and editors of Comparative European Politics, Sarah de Lange, Zoltán Fazekas, Caterina Froio, John Ishiyama, Heike Klüver, Joost van Spanje and especially Pascal Perrineau for their valuable comments and insights.

Supplementary material

41295_2017_112_MOESM1_ESM.docx (117 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 117 kb)


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceJohannes Gutenberg University of MainzMainzGermany

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