Shaping Competition: Allies’ Party Licensing and the Evolution of Support for the Extreme Right in Germany

Thursday, July 13, 2017
Anatomy - Large LT (University of Glasgow)
Grigore Pop-Eleches , Princeton University
Giovanni Capoccia , University of Oxford
Political elites in new democracies typically confront the problem of how to mitigate the destabilizing potential of large masses of alienated voters who might oppose the new regime, either because they are still ideologically linked to the past authoritarian regime or because they associate the democratic transition with the loss of material resources and social prestige. The dilemmas associated with this situation are well known: preventing the reorganization of radical “successor parties” might increase voters’ alienation and sow the seeds of more instability, while allowing such organizations to compete freely might entail costs in terms of government stability and effectiveness in the shorter term. Attracting disaffected individuals under the banners of moderate parties with the promise of policy concessions on their most pressing material demands is often considered an effective strategy in enlarging the social bases of the new regime. Using a subnational design, the paper explores the impact of these choices on the development of the extreme right in West Germany during the first decade of the Federal Republic.