The Radicalization of Mainstream Parties in the 21st Century

Manuscript in Preparation

By Sakeef M. Karim and Martin Lukk


The normalization of far-right ideas, positions and frames has reconfigured party politics in the 21st century through two primary channels: (i) the emergence and legitimation of insurgent far right parties and (ii) the radicalization of parties in the political mainstream. This study investigates this latter process using data on political parties around the world, a series of machine learning algorithms, and a case study of the Trump-era GOP. We empirically demonstrate the radicalization of prominent mainstream parties in the early 21st century and document how many have become indistinguishable from established far right parties in ways that belie their mainstream reputations and standard binary classifications that sort parties into “mainstream” or “radical” boxes. Moreover, we find that parties’ anti-immigration sentiment and cultural chauvinism are key discursive and ideological features animating radical, right-wing movements around the world, providing evidence of the centrality of ethno-nationalism in far-right politics today.

Posted on:
May 5, 2024
1 minute read, 148 words
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