Event Date: 15 – 17 May 2019
Richmond University – The American University in London
Richmond TW10 6JP
A Century of Radical Right Extremism: New Approaches
Dr Sebastien Lazardeux (St. John Fisher College) – Radical-Right Populist Movements and the Electoral Dilemma
Contempt for the system of representative democracy is a trademark of Populist Radical-Right populist movements. Therefore, they should have little desire to participate in parliamentary elections and thereby to legitimize the system they seek to combat. Yet, operating from within the state is often a more efficient way to truly impact state policies than pressures from outside. How populist movements resolve this dilemma between principles and participation is the subject of this paper. Surprisingly, despite the resurgence of populism in established democracies, little attention has been paid to this issue. Why do some movements rapidly accept the electoral game while others resist integration in the party system?
Based on primary and secondary sources, as well as data gathered during a Richmond Fellowship in Rome in the summer of 2017, I examine how far-right populist movements, such as the Social Credit movement in Québec, The Croix de Feu and the Poujade movement in France, and the 5 Star Movement in Italy dealt with this dilemma between principles and participation. These cases have been chosen for the variation in the time they emerged (interwar for the Croix de Feu), 1930s for the Social Credit movement, 1950s for the Poujade movement, and 2000s for the 5 Star movement, the political and cultural environment in which they appeared, and the way they responded to the appeal of electoral politics. Preliminary findings seem to indicate that the sociological composition of the movement impacts the decisions to participate in elections.