The Radical Right’s Politics of Economic Nationalism: A comparison between the French Front National (FN) and the Swiss People’s party (SVP)

Abstract : This article sets out to explore the socio-economic positions of Western European radical right-wing parties, with a specific focus on how those parties’ social and economic policies relate to their nationalist agenda. The current literature on the political economy of the radical right highlights diverging ideological formulas. While some radical right parties show a neo-liberal pro-market orientation, others have endorsed protectionist and redistributive policies, moving further to the left of the economic axis. There is little research however into factors that shape radical right economic policy preferences and the reasons behind radical right parties’ commonalities and diversities in socio-economic stances. To address these issues, this paper looks comparatively at the current French Front National (FN) and Swiss People’s Party (SVP). The FN and SVP represent two prominent cases of institutionalized radical right parties which are often seen as assuming divergent positions in their respective party systems, and to be located at the opposite ends of the economic axis. Looking at the socio-economic positions of those two parties, this paper argues that the political economy of the RR is primarily characterised by ‘economic nationalism’, which is a multifaceted phenomenon that places the defence of the interests of the nation and of economic ‘sovereignty’ at its core in reaction to processes of economic globalization and European integration. Taking economic nationalism as a social mechanism (Bunge 1997) i.e. a process containing both structure and agency, this paper tries and proposes an alternative supply-side approach of RR economic program looking at the agency-based dimensions and the broader discursive opportunity structure in which those parties operate and compete. We focus in particular on the dominant national political economy culture in France and Switzerland, and how the national political economies of those two countries have adjusted to global economic challenges and, over the past decade, to the unfolding of the financial crisis. We ask therefore: what are the discursive political opportunities provided to RR economic nationalist mobilization in Western European countries? How do RR parties use those opportunities in relation to their nationalist ideology? We present our two cases and highlight the main features of the national economic legacy of France and Switzerland. We then look comparatively at the supply of economic policies by the FN and SVP, and to which extent these may be seen as a product of the national economic culture, party competition and party internal features.
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Submitted on : Sunday, September 10, 2017 - 4:01:54 PM
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Gilles Ivaldi, Oscar Mazzoleni. The Radical Right’s Politics of Economic Nationalism: A comparison between the French Front National (FN) and the Swiss People’s party (SVP). ECPR General Conference 2017, European Consortium for Political Research, Sep 2017, Oslo, Norway. ⟨halshs-01584920⟩



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