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Populist Radical Right Parties in the Nordic Region: A New and Distinct Party Family?



The Nordic countries are no longer characterized by a stable five-party system. Not only have small Christian parties and Green parties emerged in most countries, so-called ‘populist radical right parties’ have also been increasingly successful in recent decades. This article examines to what extent the populist radical right parties in the Nordic countries represent a new party family. Based on various and original data, including archive material, interviews with key representatives, party manifestos and expert surveys, the processes of deciding party names, the development of transnational linkages and ideological transformation are analyzed. The article demonstrates that even though the Danish People's Party, the True Finns and the Sweden Democrats have different historical legacies, they have converged ideologically (i.e., socioeconomically centrist and socioculturally authoritarian), adopted similar names and are on the verge of becoming a more formalized transnational actor. The Progress Party in Norway is better seen as a hybrid between a populist radical right party and a more traditional conservative party. The findings challenge several classifications in the extensive literature on populist radical right parties. Most importantly, the True Finns should be included as a populist radical right party, whereas the Norwegian party should be treated more carefully. Furthermore, Nordic populist radical right parties are no longer – if they have ever been – so-called ‘neoliberal populists’. Finally, the findings suggest a re-freezing of the Nordic party systems in which a phase of divergence has been replaced by a phase of convergence.

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