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Migration and the rise of the radical right

Migration and the rise of the radical right

Montserrat Guibernau

09 March 2010


Social malaise and the failure of mainstream politics

In recent years, the popularity of new radical right-wing parties with anti-immigrant platforms has increased across Europe. This paper outlines the complex set of factors that account for this trend and offers a critical evaluation of the way mainstream parties are responding.

Far from reflecting a short term trend triggered by the current economic downturn, the rise of the new radical right indicates a deep economic and social malaise affecting western European societies.

The paper warns political parties and the wider public not to dismiss the new radical right as fanatical parties operating on the fringe of politics, but rather to embark on careful examination of their political discourse. By combining strong anti-establishment rhetoric with potent demands for democratic reform and identity politics, the radical right is managing to overcome the traditional split between left and right, with potentially serious consequences for the future of our body politic.

Montserrat Guibernau is professor of politics at Queen Mary University of London and a visiting fellow at the Centre for Global Governance, London School of Economics. She is also co-editor of Nations and Nationalism and a member of the advisory council of the Association for the Study of Ethnicity and Nationalism. Her most recent books include For a Cosmopolitan Catalanism (Angle, 2009) and The Identity of Nations (Polity Press: Cambridge, 2007).

This paper forms part of Policy Network's research programme on "Managing migration in times of economic turbulence." It also informs a Policy Network seminar on "Migration and the rise of nationalist right-wing parties: confrontation, isolation or engagement?", which will take place in Copenhagen on 11 March 2010.

Kindly supported by the Barrow Cadbury Trust

Barrow Cadbury Trust

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