Under the supervision of Dr, Brtuer at the London School of Economics and Political Science, I embarked upon a MRes/PhD in the Government Department in 2005. The subject of my thesis was the party family of the extreme right in Europe. The main focus of the study was to contribute to the debate over the definition of the ideology that lies at the heart of extreme right political parties.
The existing literature has long mused over the questions of what defines the extreme right ideology, as well as why some extreme right parties seem to be consistently – or occasionally – more successful than others. Scholars of this subject have repeatedly failed to reach a consensus regarding the main components of the extreme right ideology, often using a wide variety of labels to describe it, and disagreed on the core characteristics of the party family. In order to provide a contribution to this debate, my thesis offered a model of the extreme right definition as a multi-dimensional ideology based on two strategic-discursive dimensions (negative identity and authoritarianism), and four resulting ideological pillars (xenophobic, populist, reactionary, and repressive).
The empirical findings show that the location of each individual extreme right party affects the number and the nature of the voters whom they will attract. The model is tested in three European political systems which comprise of nine extreme right parties. Combining a variety of quantitative and qualitative methods including text-analysis of party manifestoes, interviews of extreme right party elites, and presented some time series electoral results. All in all, the thesis illustrates how the European extreme right can be mapped by the analysing the different positions espoused by each party, and how parties’ choices and the extent to which they match the preferences of potential extreme right voters have an impact on the dynamics of ideological discourse over time, intra-extreme right party competition, the voters each party attracts and ultimately, the level of electoral success it obtains.