Why is this Research Important?
Widespread interest in European PRR parties
When the French Front National (NF) entered the European Parliament (EP) in 1984, after winning 10 of the 80 EP seats available in France, a Committee of Inquiry into the Rise of Racism and Fascism in Europe was created. There was considerable concern that xenophobia was increasing across Europe, evidenced by significant support for populist radical right PRR parties (which increased further at the 1989 EP elections). The strength of concerned feeling throughout the Parliament about the entrance of the PRR in not insignificant numbers highlights the importance of studying these parties.
PRR parties are pervasive in Europe
Economic meltdown in Europe, increased immigration and widespread cynicism about the role of the EU are factors that contribute to the electoral success of PRR parties. In addition, expansion of the EU has seen PRR parties entering the Parliament from new member states, and this has ensured the number of PRR MEPs has remained between 30 and 38.
Very little research into PRR parties in EP exists
While there has been significant research conducted into parties in general in the European Parliament, it has been only very recently that research has been undertaken to assess the role PRR parties have to play, and the impact they make, at European level. Dmitri Almeida has assessed the impact European integration has had on the PRR’s ability to operate within a supranational parliamentary setting , such as the EP, in terms of Europeanization. Nicholas Startin has focused his research on parties of the PRR tradition around their cooperation, or lack of it, within the EP.
What will be Learned from this Research?
How niche parties operate
Much of the resarch into Parliaments and their parties has focused on large, mainstream parties and the finding extrapolated to niche parties. However, the factors governing the behaviour of mainstream parties may be vastly different from those affecting the behaviour of smaller niche parties, such as the PRR. Therefore, it is important to study these parties in depth in order to fully understand what makes them tick in a parliamentary setting.
How the European Parliament works
From studying the behaviour of the PRR parties in the EP, we can gain greater understanding of the EP’s structures and decision-making processes. By seeing how PRR parties interact with one another, and with other parties, we can better understand the relationships between mainstream parties and niche parties in a parliamentary setting.
How ideology impacts on political behaviour
By researching the extent to which ideology affects PRR behaviour in the EP (in terms of co-operation, types of legislation proposed and the extent of participation in the Parliament) we can gain a better understanding of the link between ideology and political party behaviour.
To what extent parties in the EP are 'Europeanized'
From looking at PRR parties in the EP, and comparing their rhetoric and behaviour with that of their domestic counterparts, we can gain insight into the extent to which parties in the EP are ‘Europeanized’. We can also discover if there is any conflict between the European and national sides of the parties, and whether any Europeanization results in compromise in ideological, organisational and behavioural terms.
For information on the full scope of my research, click here.