The literature on the populist radical right has underlined the party family’s influence on a variety of issues, such as
immigration, welfare, and the EU. However, scholars have hardly studied its influence in the field of democracy reform,
even though populist radical right parties strongly criticize how democratic systems currently function. In an exploratory
and qualitative study of four cases, we analyze the adaptation (or lack thereof) of mainstream parties to populist radical right
parties’ challenge in the field of democracy reform in Austria, France, Germany, and the Netherlands, focusing on direct
democracy. In contrast to other policy issues, we find limited adaptation of mainstream parties in the field of democracy
reform: Instead of being a driver on democracy reform, the populist radical right is merely a fellow passenger. Where it has
an effect, that effect is mostly negative, turning mainstream parties away from direct democracy.