Abstract. This article has two aims. The first attempts to define the ‘extreme right’political family. The three criteria adopted — spatial, historic-ideological, attitudinal-systemic — have led us to identify two types of the extreme right party. One type comprises parties with a fascist imprint (old right-wing parties); the other comprises recently-born parties with no fascist associations, but with a right-wing antisystem attitude (new right-wing parties). The second aim of this article is to explain the recent ‘unexpected’rise of the new right-wing parties. Changes in the cultural domain and in mass beliefs have favoured radicalization and system polarization on one side, and the emergence of attitudes and demands not treated by the established conservative parties on the other one. These two broad changes have set the conditions for the rise of extreme right parties.