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POLI 212 - MARCH 26.docx

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McGill University
Political Science
POLI 212
Hudson Meadwell

MARCH 26, 2012: Kitschelt Liberal Social Democratic Conservative Republican Van der Burg Liberal Median Voter Republican  How can we explain the success of the new right in the European cases?  For Norris, that breaks down into explaining too things. Variations in levels of support between cases and to account for political forms in which support for the new right is expressed in politics. She is developing a politically specific argument about the importance of electoral systems for the way that the new right is expressed in European politics, through supply side factors. She is criticizing society-centred explanations.  She wants to criticize arguments that think of the new right as emerging to mobilize losers in the transition from industrial to post-industrial economies and societies. Second, she wants to challenge explanations for the mergence of the new right that are focused on the new right as a response to increasing levels of immigration and the development of policies of multiculturalism.  She wants to challenge/fine tune explanations that think of the new right as a nativist response to immigration. These are demand side explanations.  She is claiming that these kinds of factors are relatively constant across cases so cannot explain variations in support or organization across parties.  When she turns to the political side of the explanation, she criticise arguments based in spatial models of party competition. In particular, she criticizes the Kitschelt model and the Van der Burg model (the continuums above). Parties are located on these left-right dimensions and there are two explanations for under what conditions under which the new right will do better.  The Kitschelt is an argument about the relatively location of a social democratic party and a conservative party. The smaller the distance between those two parties, the greater the opening for a party of the new right to form to the right of the traditional conservative party.  The Van der Burg argument is based around the location of the conservative party. The closer the conservative party is located to the median voter, the more opportunity there is for a party of the new right to emerge.  Median voter is the voter in the electorate who divides the electorate into two equal halves.  Their spatial models think that the parties are defined by the structural makeup of the electorate.  Norris wants to draw attention to the importance of political institutions (the electoral rules of the game), which have a substantial impact on variation and support and on political organization.  The spatial model tells us that the only strategic incentives parties respond to are the dimensions of voters on the spectrum. She is arguing that parties do respond to these things, but the incentives that matter are the ones that are a response to the institutions.  She draws on majoritarian and proportional representation, which have consequences for how the right comes to be expressed and organized.  The key feature of a proportional representation is a low threshold that parties have to meet and it allows relatively small parties access to the legislature and an opportunity to be in a coalition. She concludes this kind of electoral system encourages the formation of what she calls niche parties, which has the important characteristic of not having a strong incentive to moderate its policy position or its program. It doesn’t have to dilute its message to gain access to the legislature due to the PR system. Here, you will tend to find parties of the new right that take a relatively hard line, who are the most xenophobic, who will have the strongest rhetorical commitment to anti-immigration attitudes and policies, who will be possibly organized around the rhetoric of challenging the establishment.  Under a majoritarian system, the threshold to enter the legislature is much higher. As a consequence, a new right party in a majoritarian system is more likely to adapt broader appeals so as to meet the higher threshold applied by majoritarian rules. Under these rules, a new right party does not have to be a niche party, and if it is, it is likely to be outside of the legislature all together. These kinds of new right parties will be connected to a form of populism, and is not organized just around an anti- foreigner attitude and it won’t have an expressed commitment to cultural protectionism. In addition, this kind of party tends to have leadership that is much more important as a variable for support (charismatic
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