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The Radical Right in the European Elections 2004

Michael Minkenberg and Pascal Perrineau
International Political Science Review / Revue internationale de science politique
Vol. 28, No. 1 (Jan., 2007), pp. 29-55
Published by: Sage Publications, Ltd.
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20445076
Page Count: 27
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The Radical Right in the European Elections 2004
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Abstract

In the new EU member states, the European Parliament elections in June 2004 were anticipated with particular anxiety because of the role of anti-EU, nationalist, and extreme right-wing parties, which in some countries had scored significant electoral successes in the recent past. But also in some of the old member states, the radical right was watched closely, in particular, after the French Front National's historic performance in the 2002 presidential election. Since the radical right feeds on the economic and social crisis and feelings of anxiety raised by EU integration, by globalization, and by anti-establishment feelings, many observers expected a general rise in support for these parties, especially in light of the growing complexity of the expanded EU. This article analyzes the electoral outcome for the radical right in the 2004 elections and discusses country-specific characteristics as well as regional patterns. It also looks at the role the radical right played, if any, in the votes on the new EU constitution in various member states. The article shows that, regarding the radical right, the European elections proved to be surprisingly unsurprising. Clearly, EU membership was not the only issue involved. Rather, larger issues of national identity, the strength of nationalist traditions, and some particular features superseded narrow foreign policy concerns and explain, more or less, the electoral success achieved by the radical right. Compared to the EU elections, the referenda on the EU constitution in several member states provided little to no opportunities for the radical right. /// Cet article analyse les résultats électoraux de l'extrême droite aux élections de 2004 et discute tant des caractéristiques spécifiques de chaque pays que des configurations régionales. Il examine également le rôle que l'extrême droite a joué, le cas échéant, dans les votes sur la nouvelle constitution de l'UE dans divers États membres. L'article révèle que, du point de vue de l'extrême droite, les élections européennes se sont montrées étonnamment sans surprise. Clairement, l'adhésion à l'UE n'était pas la seule question en cause. En revanche, les grandes questions d'identité nationale, de la force des traditions nationalistes et de quelques thèmes particuliers ont remplacé les stricts sujects de politique étrangère et expliquent le succès électoral plus ou moins grand de l'extrême droite. Comparés aux élections européennes, les référendums sur la constitution de l'UE dans plusieurs États membres n'ont présenté que peu, voire aucune fenêtre d'opportunité pour l'extrême droite.

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