Right Wing Parties and the Welfare State on the Two Sides of the Atlantic

Thursday, July 13, 2017
Anatomy - Large LT (University of Glasgow)
Matteo Jessoula , Department of Social and Political Sciences, University of Milan
Zoe Lefkofridi , Political Science, Paris-Lodron University of Salzburg
Right wing parties both in the US and Western Europe have traditionally shown support for economic liberalism and little enthusiasm for redistributive policies. More recently, however, something has changed. In many Western European countries traditional conservative parties are challenged by Radical Right Parties which have started embrace redistributive welfare policies, although trying to exclude “non-deserving” social groups such as migrants – i.e. an “exclusive solidarity” approach. In the US, the intra-party competition in the 2016 Republican Primaries seems to present similar patterns: the winner, Donald Trump, mixed more than other Republican candidates appeals to traditional economic liberalism with support for social protection and redistribution proposals – but again, an “exclusive solidarity” approach has prevailed. In both contexts, the aims appear to be the electoral “capture” of the (white) working class vote.

The paper assesses how strong similarities and differences are in relation to the rise of an “exclusive solidarity” model in the Right camp on both sides of the Atlantic, and how important the issue of “exclusive solidarity” is in right-wing parties’ programs. Two types of sources are used. First, election surveys are analysed in order to assess how much room there is on the “demand side” for a Right party proposing an “exclusive solidarity” model; second, the most recent manifestos of two relatively successful Radical Right Parties in Western Europe (the French FN and the Italian Northern League) are studied qualitatively, and then compared with Donald Trump’s manifesto in the campaigns for both the Primaries and the US Presidency.