Date of Award

Summer 8-15-2016

Author's School

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Author's Department

Political Science

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Type



Radical right parties are on the rise. The once despised pariahs of the political world

now emerge as policy makers in governing coalitions across Europe: from the volatile

democracies of Eastern Europe to the well-established Nordic welfare states. Despite

an impressive collection of theoretical and empirical studies explaining the rise of the

radical right, this literature has largely overlooked the variation in government participation of these parties. This leaves several important questions unanswered: why do well established mainstream parties accept radical right parties that often promote extreme anti-liberal and anti-democratic platforms as coalition partners in some countries but not in others? how long do the coalitions that contain radical right parties last? what kind of ministerial portfolios are the radical right parties allocated once the enter governing coalitions?

In my dissertation, I argue that the probability of radical right parties getting into government, securing cabinet portfolios and remaining part of the coalition, all depend

on their ideological position on the economic dimension and is not hampered by their

extremism on the socio-cultural dimension. The reason being that radical right parties

place high importance on the socio-cultural dimension and low value on the economic

dimension, which is orthogonal to dimension saliencies of mainstream parties. This allows radical right parties to be more flexible in finding compromise with the rest of the coalition partners. I show that while all radical right parties maintain extreme positions on the socio-cultural dimension, they display a great deal of variation on the economic dimension. While some espouse ultra-neoliberal economic programs, others champion protectionism, welfare chauvinism, and openly reject capitalism. Radical right parties that position themselves close to the rest of the coalition's ideal point on the economic dimension are able to oer its coalition partners valuable policy compromises.

I employ a multi-method approach that includes both large N analyses as well as case studies to test my theory in a series of three articles. In the first article, I test how the probability of the radical right parties entering cabinet depends on their ideological positioning on different dimensions. In the second article, I argue that radical right parties are often over-compensated with portfolios due to coalition stability considerations and lower costs of some portfolios. The lower costs are the direct result of dimension orthogonality and party position's on the economic dimension. Finally, in the third article, I extend my argument to show that the distance on the economic dimension between the formateur and the radical right party is an important factor that affects durability of such coalitions: the smaller the distance, the longer the coalition is likely to survive. I also find that coalitions containing a radical right party with a moderate economic platform are not any more volatile than the more traditional coalitions that only consist of mainstream parties.

This work contributes to the literature on radical right parties that is predominantly

focused on explaining why these parties succeed or fail on the electoral arena but does

not address what happens after radical right parties get elected. In addition, I make a

contribution to the broader coalition literature by proposing a more nuanced view for the

role of ideology in coalition politics.


English (en)

Chair and Committee

Margit Tavits

Committee Members

Matthew Gabel, Jacob Montgomery, Brian Crisp, Thomas Konig


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