Abstract

Radical-Right Parties and the Deterioration of Liberal Democracy

 

Many scholars argue radical-right parties to be the largest contemporary threat to democracy. Still, however, it is unclear what their potential impact to liberal democracy is as a junior coalition member. This is especially important, as their participation is government coalitions is becoming quite common. In this paper I conduct the first large-scale analysis of European nations over-time to separately estimate the effect of the radical-right on several metrics of liberal democracy while serving solely as a junior coalition partner. I argue that democratic quality can be measured on two domains: institutional rule-of-law, and mass civil liberties. I demonstrate that radical-right parties do bring with them real decreases in the level of liberal democracy not only when holding executive control, but also as they merely join governing coalitions. The effects of their rule differ depending on the type of power held: when they hold the prime ministership, we see significant deteriorations to both institutional constraints on the executive and civil liberties. When limited to junior coalition-partner status, we only see the latter effected.

 

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