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Populist Parties and the Failure of the Political Elites

The Rise of the Austrian Freedom Party (FPÖ)


Göran Adamson

The author analyses the reasons behind the electoral success of European right-wing populist parties. Using the Austrian Freedom Party under Jörg Haider as a case study and with a richness of primary material, he argues that their success is only partly caused by «racism». It is also, and more prominently, the result of populism – i.e. a critique of the «elite». These parties and their voters should not, then, be labelled as arrogant insiders attacking downtrodden outsiders like immigrants, workers, and minorities. Instead, the right-wingers are more justly portrayed as outsiders and underdogs, raising their anger and frustration against the insiders: the «media elite» and the «leftists and the artists».
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Abram, David et al. 2000. ‘Injustice in Austria’, The New York Review of Books, vol. 47, no. 15.

Adamson, Göran. 2010. The Spectre of Austria – Reappraising the rise of the Freedom Party between 1986 and 2000, London: London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE.

–. 2015. The Trojan Horse – A leftist critique of multiculturalism in the West, Malmö: Arx Förlag.

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