Coalition as Cooptation: The Radical-Right’s Entrance to Government


While radical parties tend to receive a small minority of votes in national elections, their presence in ruling coalitions is becoming much more common. And yet, the current literature on coalition formation is without a succinct explanation for why this is occurring. In this paper, I ask under what conditions mainstream parties are willing and interested in forming a coalition with a radical party, given the high costs associated with having such a partner in government. I characterize such moves as the co-optation of a growing political rival in an effort to minimize electoral threat. That is, as radical parties become more threatening to the electoral success of a mainstream party, they will invite the party into their government, in an effort to stave off said threat. This characterization borrows from the literature of authoritarian cooptation to build on our current understanding of parliamentary coalition building. Quantitative analysis utilizing cross-national, survey, and spatial data is employed to support this theory.


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