By Simon Bornschier
Cleavage Politics and the Populist Right

Since the 1990s, right-wing populist parties in Western Europe have gained sizable vote shares and power, much to the fascination and consternation of political observers. Meshing traditionalism and communitarian ideals, right-wing populist parties have come to represent a polar normative ideal to the New Left in Western Europe. In his dynamic study Cleavage Politics and the Populist Right, Simon Bornschier applies a cultural as well as a political dimension to analyze the parties of both the right and left in six countries. He develops a theory that integrates the role of political conflict around both established cleavages and party strategies regarding new divisions to explain the varying fortunes of the populist right. Combining innovative data from election campaigns and opinion surveys, Cleavage Politics and the Populist Right explains the emergence of the Front National in France and the transformation of the Swiss People’s Party to right-wing populism. Where the populist right has made a breakthrough, a new cultural cleavage has formed. When established parties succeed in averting the entry of a right-wing populist competitor, however, the new cultural conflict presents itself in tempered form, as demonstrated in the case of Germany.

Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2010

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Cleavage Politics and the Populist Right is a powerful book on an interesting and important topic. Bornschier posits that populist right parties emerge and succeed due, in part, to the evolving preferences of citizens and the responses of the new parties themselves and also the responses of established parties on both the right and left. His analysis of party positions and vote choice in France, Germany, and Switzerland shows that the model works well in explaining why the new parties have fared better in some countries than others. This book is a real breakthrough in the study of electoral change.” —Christopher Wlezien, coeditor of Journal of Elections, Public Opinion and Parties


“Bornschier’s line of argument in Cleavage Politics and the Populist Right is original, and his methods employed for the empirical analyses are very sophisticated. This book provides excellent research, and readers can follow the author’s arguments and interpretations without difficulty.” —Dieter Ohr, Free University, Berlin


“Empirically rich, methodologically sophisticated, and theoretically compelling, Bornschier’s book not only settles some outstanding debates in the literature but also frames important questions about the basic dividing lines of European politics.” Political Science Quarterly


“Bornschier has produced a very well researched and written book on an important topic.” West European Politics