Topics in Comparative Politics: ‘Far Right Politics in Europe’

Period of duration of course
Course info
Number of course hours
Number of hours of lecturers of reference
Number of hours of supplementary teaching

Modalità esame

Written and oral exam


Optional for the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th year students of the PhD Programme in "Political Science and Sociology"

Optional for the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th year students of the PhD Programme in "Transnational Governance"

Optional for the 4th and 5th year students of the MA Programme in "Political and Social Sciences"


Topics in Comparative Politics: ‘Far Right Politics in Europe’


First Term

Prof. Manuela Caiani


Start date: 6th of Nov 2023- /End date: 4th of December 2023


Overview of the course:

The resurgence of strong radical right wing parties and movements (or far right or extreme right) constitutes one of the most significant political changes in Europe (and beyond) during the last decades. The far rith is booming in national parliaments, in coalitions with mainstream parties or as wildly successful challenges to the political status quo. A major reason for the success of right wing (populist or not) parties is that they capitalize on voters’ disaffection with existing democratic actors and institutions, but also on economic grievances and cultural perceived threats. Along macro level factors, meso and micro level aspects need to be taken into consideration, as well as the increasing interactions between far right political parties and movements (such as the anti gender movements), which are nicely captured by the novel concept of ‘movement-party’. Yet these factors vary wildly across Europe.  

This course not only covers this existing literature but also examines the radical right as ‘social movements’ (made of a collective identity, networks and specific frames) rather than just political parties. In particular, this course aims to provide researchers with basic knowledge of key topics in the scholarly literature on the radical right, while fostering critical debate on some of the most contested issues surrounding it. Firstly, it will focuses on conceptual issues and definitions (as well as set the boundaries among various concepts such as radical right, far right, right wing populism, anti gender right wing actors, no vax), on the causes and consequences of fair right movements and parties emergence and mobilisation (at the micro, meso and macro level) as well as on some innovative methods to study radical right (such as ethnography with radicals, social network analysis). The new concept of radical right ‘movement-parties’ will be introduced, as a new lens though which address organizational transformations of the radical right in contemporary democracies as trends toward a  ‘transnationalization’ of the radical right, the radical right and space and far right and culture/art.

During the course we will to address these issues, by linking the current theoretical debates with practical implementation through the illustration of concrete case studies in Europe (and beyond).

Course format:

The course will be divided into seven sessions of 3 hours each. Each session will begin with a presentation by the instructor, followed by a general discussion. Students are expected to prepare comments related to the topic of the session and possibly link the theme of the session with their own research projects (i.e. class participation). The aim is to use the readings to let emerge doubts, questions and comments related to the students’ research projects and research interests (not just a summary of the readings). Students might also bring very practical research dilemma about data gathering and data analysis, linked to the compulsory readings. Some guest speakers at the end of each session will contribute to make more lively the course, presenting applied research of the topic addressed.


The assessment of the course is based on: i. class participation (40%), ii. home assignment (30%), iii. one position paper (30%).

Assignment: (ii.) home assignment:  ‘Meeting the authors’, prepare a list of 4/5 questions that you would like to ask to the author(s) who will be present online in class during the last session (n.7)-this session is call, ‘meeting the authors’ as prominent scholar on the above mentioned topic will be present in a session of Q&A related to their research; (iii.) A final ‘position paper’ (of approx. 1 and half-2 pages) is expected by students at the end of the course containing a brief reflection on “How the far right literature, in terms of concepts, hypotheses, ideas and approaches, can be used for your own research project” (if yes, why and for what; if not why) (deadline date TBA).

* The assignments can be conducted in Italian for the 'allievi del corso ordinario'.

Textbook and other Materials:

Reader prepared by the instructor. Papers to be downloaded from SNS’s Website and sent by the professor by mail before the start of the course to those enrolled to the course. Students are expected to read the compulsory readings before each session. If you have problems in downloading the readings and/or you want to have a look at them before, contact the professor.



 Session 1: _6th November 2023 (9-11)

Far Right parties and movements in Europe: definition and conceptual boundaries


Jens, Rydgren (2018), The Radical Right: An Introduction, The Oxford Handbook of the Radical right, Oxford.

Herbert Kitschelt (2018), Party Systems and Radical Right-Wing Parties, The Oxford Handbook of the Radical right, Oxford.

Jan-Werner Müller. What Is Populism? Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, (2016), Introduction and Conclusion.



Odmalm, P., Rydgren, J. Introduction: comparing and reconceptualising the (populist) radical right. Eur Polit Sci 18, 373–378 (2019).

Kriesi, Hanspeter (2017). ‘Revisiting the populist challenge’, Research paper, Lunch Seminar Series (Nov. 17th), Scuola Normale Superiore, Florence.


Radical Right and Gender:

Guest speaker, 10.30-11, Francesca Feo


Session 2: 10th Nov.  2023 (10-13)

Causes of the far right: contextual, organizational and individual explanations



Muis, Jasper C., and Tim Immerzeel (2017). ‘Radical Right Populism’, Qualitative Sociology.

Manuela Caiani and Donatella della Porta (2018), The Radical Right as Social Movement Organizations , The Oxford Handbook of the Radical right, Oxford; Introduction.

Optional:Tjitske AkkermanSarah L. de LangeMatthijs Rooduijn (2016), Radical Right-Wing Populist Parties in Western Europe Into the Mainstream?. 


Radical right and space:

Guest speaker, 12-13, Ipek Demirsu


Session 3: 13th Nov 2023 (10-13)


Causes of the far right: contextual, organizational and individual explanations II



Spruyt, B., Keppens, G., Van Droogenbroeck, F., (2016), “Who Supports Populism and What Attracts People to It?”, Political Research Quarterly, Vol. 69, N. 2, pp. 335-346

Kriesi, Hanspeter (2018). ‘The determinants of the vote for the radical right and the radical left in Western Europe’, paper presented at the EUI Workshop on Populism



Pappas, Takis S. 2012. ‘Populism Emergent: A framework for analyzing its contexts, mechanics, and outcomes’. EUI Working Papers, RSCAS 2012/01.


Illiberalism in Eastern and Central Europe:

Guest speaker, 12-13, Petra Guasti


Session 4: _22th Nov 2021 (10-13)


Far right ‘Movement-parties’: a new type of organization?


Manuela Caiani and Ondrej (eds.), 2018, Radical Right ‘movements- parties’, Routledge, ch1, ch2  and Conclusion.

Andrea L. P. Pirro and Pietro Castelli Gattinara (2018) Movement Parties of the Far Right: the organization and strategies of nativist collective actors. Mobilization: An International Quarterly: September 2018, Vol. 23, No. 3, pp. 367-383.



LE Berntzen, M Weisskircher (2016) Anti-Islamic PEGIDA Beyond Germany: Explaining Differences in Mobilisation, Journal of Intercultural Studies 37 (6), 556-573


A ‘zoom’ on far right movement-parties:

  •            The study of the far right and its three E’s: why scholarship must go beyond Eurocentrism, Electoralism and Externalism (2020) by Pietro Castelli Gattinara
  •            Reconfiguring nationalism: Transnational Entanglements of Hindutva and radical right ideology (2020) PhD thesis by Eviane Leidig
  •            Failed Führers - A History of Britain’s Extreme Right (2020) by Graham Macklin
  •            Liberal Roots of Far Right Activism: The Anti-Islamic Movement in the 21st century (2019) by Lars Erik Berntzen
  •            Nationalist responses to the crises in Europe (2018) by Cathrine Thorleifsson
  •            Vigilantism against Migrants and Minorities (2019) by Tore Bjørgo and Miroslav Mareš
  •            The far right as social movement (2018) by Pietro Castelli Gattinara and Andrea Pirro


 The Trasnationalization of the far right:

Guest speaker, 12-13, Manes Weisskircher


Session 5: 29th Nov. 2023 (10-13)

The consequences of the radical right: politics, polity, policies outcomes (alternative session on ‘Interviewing the radical right’--TBD collectively)


Lise Esther HermanJames Muldoon (2018), Trumping the Mainstream: The Conquest of Democratic Politics by the Populist Radical Right, Routledge (chapter 1 and conclusion)

Michelle Hale Williams (2018), The Political Impact of the Radical Right, The Oxford Handbook of the Radical Right,in Jens, Rydgren Ed., The Radical Right: An Introduction, The Oxford Handbook of the Radical right, Oxford.


Political geography and the far right:

Guest speaker, 12-13, Jonas Suchanek


Session 6: 1th December 2023 (10-13)

Networks, social network analysis and the radical right



Manuela Caiani (2018), Radical Right Cross-National Links and International Cooperation, The Oxford Handbook of the Radical Right.

Caiani, M. and Wagemann, C., (2009), “Online Networks of the Italian and German Extreme Right: An Explorative Study with Social Network Analysis”, in Information, Communication & Society, Volume 12, No 1, pp. 66-109.


Additional reading:

Caiani , M. and P. Kroel, (2014), “A Transnational Extreme Right? New Right-Wing Tactics and the Use of the Internet”, International Journal of Comparative and Applied Criminal Justice, 39(3), pp.1-21.


The Trasnationalization of the far right II:

Guest speaker, 12-13, Anita Nissen


Session 7: 4th Dec. 2023 (15-18!)


‘Meeting the Authors’ Session:


 Radical Right and arts:

Far-Right Movements and the Politicization of Public Funds for the Arts.

Guest speaker, Leandro de Paula, 15.15-16

Exiting the radical right:

Guest speaker, Kathleen M. Blee 16.15-17

Radical right vs. populism?

Guest speaker, Benjamin Arditi 17-17.45




Klein, O., & Muis, J. (2018). Online discontent: comparing Western European far-right groups on Facebook. European Societies, 1-23. 

Inside Organized Racism - Women in the Hate Movement Women In The Hate Movement, di Kathleen M. Blee , 2003

Is there such a thing as populism? 3 provocations and 5½ proposals. Forthcoming in the Conceptualizing Comparative Politics series, Routledge, London, 2024. Di Benjamin Arditi

Obiettivi formativi

The aim is to use the readings to let emerge doubts, questions and comments related to the topic and the students’ research projects (not just a summary of the readings). Students might also bring very practical research dilemma about data gathering and data analysis in comparative politics when dealing with far right politics in Europe and beyond; the relationships between far right social movements and far right political parties (and in general the relation between street protest and elections); the transformation of far right social movements into parties; and in general the current transformation of the far right toward transnationalization.

The course will serve as a guide for further independent study. The aim is to use the readings to let emerge doubts, questions and comments related to the topic and the students’ research projects (not just a summary of the readings).