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Lars Rensmann

Piero Ignazi, Extreme Right Parties in Western Europe (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003)

Cas Mudde, The Ideology of the Extreme Right (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2003)

Martin Schain, Aristide Zolberg, and Patrick Hossay, eds., Shadows over Europe: The Development and Impact of the Extreme Right in Western Europe (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2002)

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Lars Rensmann

German extreme Right parties have increased their political and electoral significance in recent years, in particular through some considerable regional successes in the East. However, in spite of noticeable nation-wide gains by the NPD in the Bundestag election, the extreme Right suffered from another defeat. Looking at the interplay of supply side and demand side factors, the article examines the transformations and continuities of extreme Right parties within the German party system, their performance in the 2005 general election, and the reasons for their ongoing national electoral failure. While extreme Right parties benefit from more favorable conditions related to increased voter volatility, new public issues and new cleavage structures, these parties also continuously face crucial difficulties, especially on the supply side: the cordon sanitaire is still intact, and new cleavages in relation to globalization are more convincingly and effectively utilized by left-wing competitors. The main obstacle, though, are the extreme Right agents themselves. Incorporating Zeitgeist issues, they nevertheless remain unable to actually modernize their agenda. The present and future challenge to liberal democracy may be a new level of cooperation between extreme Right parties and consolidated "informal" right-wing extremist subcultures in Eastern regional strongholds.

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Why Extremes Don’t Meet

Le Pen and Besancenot Voters in the 2007 French Presidential Election

Nonna Mayer

Focusing on electoral support for the extreme Left and the extreme Right on the eve of the 2007 French presidential election, this article refutes the "convergence of the extremes" theory. It draws on data from the 2007 CEVIPOF French Electoral Panel to compare the profiles of voters for Jean-Marie Le Pen and Olivier Besancenot. Combining sociological, psycho-political, and economic models for explaining voter choice, it shows how different Le Pen and Besancenot voters are in their partisan and ideological attachments, as well as their social affinities and their positions on candidates and issues. Divergent social and political logics explain the electoral support for these two candidates: their voters do not occupy the same political space, they do not have the same social background, and they do not hold the same values.

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Continental Collaboration

The Transition from Ultranationalism to Pan-Europeanism by the Interwar French Fascist Right

Sarah Shurts

This article considers the emergence of pan-European discourse and the creation of transnational networks by the intellectual extreme Right during the interwar and occupation years. Through a close reading of the essays, speeches, and texts of French fascist intellectuals Abel Bonnard, Alphonse de Châteaubriant, and Pierre Drieu la Rochelle, the author contends that it was during the interwar and wartime decades that the French extreme Right transitioned from its traditional ultranationalism to a new concept of French national identity as European identity. More importantly, these three leading fascist intellectuals worked to distinguish their concept of European federation and transnational cultural exchange as anterior to and independent of submission to Nazi Germany. It was, therefore, in the discourse and the transnational socio-professional networks of the interwar period that we can find the foundation for the new language of Europeanism that became ubiquitous among the postwar Eurofascists and the Nouvelle Droite today.

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Eric Jennings, Hanna Diamond, Constance Pâris de Bollardière and Jessica Lynne Pearson

Ruth Ginio, The French Army and its African Soldiers: The Years of Decolonization (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2017).

Valerie Deacon, The Extreme Right in the French Resistance: Members of the Cagoule and Corvignolles in the Second World War (Baton Rouge, LA: Louisiana State University Press, 2016).

Daniella Doron, Jewish Youth and Identity in Postwar France: Rebuilding Family and Nation (Bloomington/Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 2015).

Jennifer Johnson, The Battle for Algeria: Sovereignty, Health Care, and Humanitarianism (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2016).

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Beyond Left and Right

New Perspectives on the Politics of the Third Republic

Linda E. Mitchell

The articles in this issue all reflect on the various ways in which political trends during the period of the Third Republic have been categorized by both historians of the period and the political actors themselves. Ranging in topic from political trends in the French military in the years after the Dreyfus Affair to the participation of women in the politics of the extreme Right, these pieces focus especially on the need to transcend categories of Left and Right in order to discuss more accurately the ways in which the political party system developed, in particular during the years between the world wars.

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Suzanne Berger

Looking back at extreme-right politics in France in the 1940s and 1950s provides new perspectives on contemporary populism. Stanley Hoffmann’s analyses of support for the Vichy regime and for the Poujade movement emphasized how populist politics flourished in times when major segments of the population felt thwarted in efforts to have their interests and views represented in government. Attempts to explain populism by the economic or cultural characteristics of individuals are insufficient. As Hoffmann suggested, it is the political failure of parties and interest groups to channel the grievances and demands of the “losers” of globalization into policy arenas that fuels the rise of populism today.

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The Swiss Paradox

Egalitarianism and Hierarchy in a Model Democracy

Marina Gold

The Swiss system of direct democracy is in many ways paradoxical. The federal structure counteracts the formation of centralizing state hierarchies and protects the egalitarian representation of local political interests. Simultaneously, local political structures can have hierarchical and exclusionary effects, especially when democratic processes are turned into values. This article considers the tensions between egalitarian and hierarchical values in Swiss democratic structures in the wake of the rise of anti-foreigner and anti-EU passions harnessed by extreme right-wing parties. These tensions are heightened in the context of global processes that are transforming the structures of the state, as corporate power undermines state apparatuses with the potential to subvert democratic practices.

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Yaron Ezrahi

Is Israeli democracy in danger? The short answer is yes! But which democracy is not in some sense or another fragile and in danger? In some democracies it is the rise of the extreme right and racism in reaction to Muslim minorities, in others the possibility of disastrous economic collapse, and in still others the nearing possibility of a civil war. In the case of Israel it is unreasonable to assess the future of democracy given the deep uncertainties about the prospects of a settlement with the Palestinians and of achieving definable agreed-upon borders in the foreseeable future, and Israel’s permanently grave state of security. In addition, no one can risk predicting the prospect and consequences of a war involving thousands of missiles over Israeli cities if the present deadlock of the peace process persists and eventually leads to an explosion.

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Mariette Sineau

In France, the 21 April 2002 presidential election result has renewed interest in the electoral cleavage between women and men, who cast their votes very differently to qualify candidates for the second round of the election. Among women voters, Lionel Jospin (the Socialist leader) came in second behind Jacques Chirac, with Jean-Marie Le Pen (leader of the Front national) being eliminated from the contest; among men, Le Pen came out on top followed by Chirac. On the basis of a major quantitative election survey conducted in France in 2002 by the Centre de Recherches Politiques de Sciences Po, this article undertakes to understand why fewer women than men vote for the extreme Right. Sociologically, Le Pen made his lowest scores among two groups of women that contrast in numerous aspects: young, highly educated professional women, and older, retired, widowed women. Strong ideological logics lie behind this contrasted sociology of female anti-Lepenism, rationales that are generation-specific, but gender-specific as well: feminism and Catholicism "process" male and female identity differently. (This research was first published in French in Bruno Cautrès and Nonna Mayer, eds., Le Nouveau Désordre électoral (2004), 207-28.)