West European Politics, 33(3), pp. 419–444, 2010.
While the endorsement of universalistic values by the New Left led to a first transformation of political space in Western Europe, the counter-mobilisation of the extreme populist right resulted in a second transformation in the 1990s. This article focuses on the discursive innovations and normative foundations that have driven the emergence of a conflict opposing libertarian-universalistic and traditionalist-commu- nitarian values. An analysis using data from the media coverage of election campaigns confirms that the New Left and the populist right represent polar normative ideals in France, Austria, and Switzerland. A similar transformation of political space occurred in the absence of a right-wing populist party in Germany, Britain, and the Netherlands. In these contexts, the author hypothesises the value conflict to prove less durable and polarising in the longer run. The analysis of an election in the mid 2000s confirms that party systems evolve in a path dependent manner in the two contexts.