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.
Bedock, Camille; Simon Otjes; Volker Best & Manes Weisskircher (2023) A policy like no other? The populist radical right challenge in the field of democracy reform, Party Politics. DOI: 10.1177/13540688221089126.