This paper argues that, contrary to previous assumptions, the electoral effect of shifts towards radical right positions is not static. It depends on whether mainstream parties accommodated solely the issues of their niche competitors, or also resonant radical right frames applied within these issues. The narrative optic of differentiation between the “what?” and the “how?” of mainstream strategies therefore supplements previous findings of the research on party competition, as well as issue and frame dimensionality.
By combining issue-based vote choice theory with the framing paradigm, the paper hence aims to analyse the role of narrative shifts and mechanisms of frame ownership takeover, as well as their effects on radical right electoral fortune. Socio-cultural issues of collective identity (nationalizing, morality, and minority policies) in Hungary, Poland and Slovakia serve as best cases to identify and evaluate these concepts. The QCA analysis is performed using original data on radical right narratives coded via computer-assisted qualitative data analysis (CAQDA), combined with election studies and expert surveys.