Cinderella and her ugly sisters: the mainstream and extreme right in Europe's bipolarising party systems

Bale, Tim (2003) Cinderella and her ugly sisters: the mainstream and extreme right in Europe's bipolarising party systems. West European Politics, 26 (3). pp. 67-90. ISSN 0140-2382

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The rise and mainstreaming of Europe's Green parties has not only enlarged the left bloc in many party systems but helped to drive a trend toward bipolar competition. This article argues that the rise and mainstreaming of far right parties has done the same for the other side and reinforced the trend. This change in the political opportunity structure was not simply seized upon but in part engineered by a centre-right willing to rely on former pariahs for legislative majorities. By adopting some of the far right's themes, it legitimised them and increased both their salience and the seats it brought into an expanded right bloc. Once in office, the centre-right has demonstrated its commitment to getting tough on immigration, crime and welfare abuse, not least to distract from a somewhat surprising turn toward market liberalism. The analysis concludes by asking what this means for both bipolar blocs in the longer term.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: This article was awarded the Vincent Wright Memorial prize for the best article that year in what many see as the best all-round journal on European Politics. It did so because it is a truly comparative piece, testing a hypothesis against an appropriate range of countries and qualifying it accordingly. It also challenged common wisdom concerning the relationship between mainstream and extreme parties, reminding readers that in many cases the former are not only challenged by but also rely on the latter to regain or remain in office. Judging by journal submissions that the author has been asked to referee recently, it has stimulated research by a number of younger scholars. The piece was central to the author applying for and receiving ESRC sponsorship for a seminar series on the centre-right, which ran from 2005-6, resulting in the author editing a special issue of the highly-regarded Journal of European Public Policy, due out early in 2008. It also led directly to a fruitful collaboration with four overseas country-specialists on an article on the response of the centre-left to the far-right.
Schools and Departments: School of Law, Politics and Sociology > Politics
Subjects: J Political Science > JF Political institutions (General) > JF0020 General. Comparative government
J Political Science > JN Political institutions (Europe)
Depositing User: Tim Bale
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2012 18:49
Last Modified: 11 May 2012 09:42
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