Country reports

The country reports offer an overview of the parties covered in The PopuList 3.0. With these country reports we offer a tool to researchers and journalists who are looking for more background information about the parties included in the list. Beyond providing examples for each classification decision, the reports serve three main purposes: (1) they offer short descriptions of every party included in the list; (2) they provide information about borderline cases and over-time changes; and (3) they include comprehensive tables in which party categorizations, and some additional information (like electoral performances and government participation) can be found at a glance.

Borderline cases and over-time changes

There are two main reasons to classify parties as borderline populist, far-right, far-left or Eurosceptic: (1) uncertainty about how to classify them; (2) disagreement among the experts and/or the team members. Such uncertainty or disagreement is, in most cases, the result of how the parties communicate and behave. Some parties are only very moderately populist, far-right/-left or Eurosceptic. This can easily lead to uncertainty about whether they should be included within a certain category, or to disagreements about its categorization. It could also be the case that different factions within a party express diverging messages, making it difficult to determine what the party’s core ideas are. In the country reports below, we provide some brief additional information on why we have categorised parties as borderline cases.

Moreover, parties can change their ideology. Some parties start out as mainstream parties and only become populist later on. Other parties start their political lives as far-right parties but moderate over time. We have coded such over-time changes, and briefly explain our reasoning in the country reports.

Mainstream parties that have moved toward the far-right

In several European countries centre-right parties have grown increasingly nativist over the years. Parties like the Österreichische Volkspartei (Austrian People’s Party, ÖVP) in Austria, the Volkspartij voor Vrijheid en Democratie (People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy, VVD) in the Netherlands and Les Républicains (The Republicans, LR) in France have become more exclusionistic towards outgroups (mostly immigrants). Yet, because their exclusionism does not constitute the core component of their ideologies, we have decided to not classify them as far right. Since they are also not populist they have not been included in the list.

Populism and extremism

The far left and the far right can be decomposed into radical-left and -right parties and extreme-left and -right parties. The main difference is that the former operate within the democratic framework, do not want to subvert the democratic system, and are against using violence. The latter, on the other hand, are anti-democratic and justify the use of violence to accomplish their goals. Several scholars of populism have argued that populism and extremism are incompatible because populism, by emphasising popular sovereignty, is inherently democratic, while extremism is, by definition, anti-democratic. In other words: according to this approach radical-left and radical-right parties can be populist, but extreme-right and extreme-left parties cannot. Because it is often rather difficult to distinguish extreme from radical parties in practice, we employ the umbrella concepts “far right” and “far left” – including both types of parties. We also remain agnostic about the compatibility between extremism and populism. This means that we have classified some parties that are often categorised as extreme right as populist as well. If this is the case, we have made our reasoning explicit in the country reports below.

The country reports