Transformation of West European Political Landscape and Institutionalization of Anti-System Politics

DOI: 10.20542/0131-2227-2018-62-5-17-28
G. Vainshtein (,
Primakov National Research Institute of World Economy and International Relations, Russian Academy of Sciences (IMEMO), 23, Profsoyuznaya Str., Moscow 117997, Russian Federation 


Abstract. The article analyzes peculiarities of the current stage of party-political transformations in Western Europe, characterizes its difference from the previous period of changes in the political landscape of the region, and assesses possible consequences of today’s processes. It is noted that the fragmentation of the political space, which has been one of the features of its changes in recent decades, currently takes place largely due to the emergence of new parties. Based on empirical data presented in the article, the author states that a significant portion of numerous parties created in the region since 2000, make up the parties distinguished by anti-system orientations. Meanwhile, the article emphasizes the increased analytical complexity of differentiation between systemic and anti-systemic parties, conditioned by changes in the nature of anti-system phenomenon. In the past, the anti-system parties used to oppose the existing political system; nowadays these are the parties that are struggling not against the system but against the policy of systemic consensus uniting the political establishment. The distinction between systemic and anti-systemic parties is complicated also by the recent rapprochement of their positions on a number of important political issues. Changes in party-political space today are characterized by the interpenetration and synthesis of political positions various in its nature, which determine the essence of systemic and anti-systemic parties, creating a new quality of system policy. In this context, the introduction of the ideas articulated by anti-system populism (in their relatively deradicalized forms) into “the fabric of system politics” can ultimately lead to significant changes of European societies. In the author’s view, the decline in popularity of populist parties is quite possible, but not in that of the policy which is usually characterized as populist. 

Keywords: West European party system, political transformations, anti-system politics, evolution of mainstream parties, institutionalization of deradicalized populism 


1. Lipset S., Rokkan S. Cleavage Structures, Party Systems, and Voter Alignments: An Introduction. Lipset S., Rokkan S., eds. Party Systems and Voter Alignments. New York – London, The Free Press, 1967, pp. 1-64.

2. Painter A. Democratic Stress, the Populist Signal and Extremist Threat: A Call for a New Mainstream Statecraft and Contact Democracy. London, Policy Network, 2013. 56 p.

3. Mudde C. Fighting the System? Populist Radical Right Parties and Party System Change. Party Politics. 2014, vol. 20, no. 2, pp. 217-226.

4. Talking Policy: Cas Mudde on Western Populism. Available at: (accessed 15.12.2017).

5. Forbrig J. German Far Right’s Breakthrough Moment. Available at: (accessed 15.12.2017).

6. Kholodkovskii K. Partii: krizis ili zakat? [Parties: Crisis or Decay?]. Politicheskie instituty na rubezhe tysyacheletii [Political Institutions at the Turn of the Millennium]. Dubna, Phoenix+, pp. 61-80.

7. Kholodkovskii K. Protivostoyanie pravy – levye: anakhronism ili smena koordinat? [The Opposition Right vs Left: Anachronism or Change of Coordinates?] Samoopredelenie Rossii [Self-determination of Russia]. Moscow, ROSSPEN, 2013, pp. 73-100.

8. Kholodkovskii K. Perestroika zapadnoevropeiskoi partiinoi sistemy [Transformation of West European Party System]. Mirovaya ekonomika i mezhdunarodnye otnosheniya, 2016, vol. 60, no. 7, pp. 16-24.

9. Emanuele V., Chiaramonte A. A Growing Impact of New Parties: Myth or Reality? Party System Innovation in Western Europe after 1945. Available at: (accessed 01.12.2017).

10. Sartori G. European Political Parties: The Case of Polarized Pluralism. LaPalombara J., Weiner M., eds. Political Parties and Political Development. Princeton, Princeton University Press, 1966, pp. 136-176.

11. Capoccia G. Anti-System Parties: A Conceptual Reassessment. Journal of Theoretical Politics, 2002, vol. 14, no. 1, pp. 9-35.

12. Zulianello M. Anti-System Parties Revisited: Concept Formation and Guidelines for Empirical Research. Government and Opposition. May 2017, pp. 1-29.

13. Schedler A. Anti-Political-Establishment Parties. Party Politics, 1996, vol. 2, no. 3, pp. 291-312.

14. Abedi A. Anti-Political Establishment Parties: A Comparative Analysis. Abingdon, Routledge, 2004. 224 p.

15. Hartleb Fl. Here to Stay: Anti-Establishment Parties in Europe. European View, 2015, vol. 14, no. 1, pp. 39-49.

16. McDonnell D., Newell J.L. Outsider Parties in Government in Western Europe. Party Politics, 2011, vol. 7, no. 4, pp. 443-452.

17. Smith G. Core Persistence: Change and the “People’s Party”. West European Politics, 1989, vol. 12, no. 4, pp. 157-168.

18. Dennison S., Pardijs D. The World According to Europe’s Insurgent Parties. ECRF/181, June 2016, London, ECFR, 2016. 40 p.

19. Hobolt S.B., Tilley J. Fleeing the Centre: The Rise of Challenger Parties in the Aftermath of the Euro Crisis. West European Politics, 2016, vol. 39, no. 5, pp. 971-991.

20. Mudde C. The Study of Populist Radical Right Parties: Towards a Fourth Wave. Available at: (accessed 10.12.2017).

21. Barkin N. What Austria’s Election Says about Europe’s Political Landscape. Available at: (accessed 01.12.2017).

22. Judy Asks: Will Populist Parties Run Europe? Available at: (accessed 20.12.2017).

23. Bregman R. The Dutch Green Left Party Shows New Ideas Can Turn the Tide of Populism. The Guardian, 17.03.2017.

24. Willsher K. French Opposition Elects Hard-Right Leaning Leader. The Guardian, 10.12.2017.

25. Vinocur N. New French Party Rejects Populism, (Sort of) Embraces Macron. Available at: (accessed 10.12.2017).

26. Christian Lindner. The Radical. Available at: (accessed 15.12.2017).

27. Gallup News 2017. Hope, Trust Deficits May Help Fuel Populism, April 7. Available at: (accessed 15.12.2017).

28. Krastev I. After Brexit, Europe’s Dueling Nostalgias. The New York Times, 14.07.2016.

29. Etermann M. The Austrian Election Showed Populists Get Another Path to Power. New Statesman, 25.10.2017. 

Registered in System SCIENCE INDEX

For citation:
Vainshtein G. Transformation of West European Political Landscape and Institutionalization of Anti-System Politics. World Eonomy and International Relations, 2018, vol. 62, no. 5, pp. 17-28.

Comments (0)

No comments

Add comment






Dear authors! Please note that in the VAK List of peer-reviewed scientific journals, in which the main scientific results of dissertations for the degree of candidate and doctor of sciences should be published for the “MEMO Journal” the following specialties are recorded:
economic sciences:
5.2.5. World Economy.
5.2.1. Economic Theory
5.2.3. Regional and Branch Economics
political sciences:
5.5.4. International Relations
5.5.1. History and Theory of Politics
5.5.2. Political Institutions, Processes, Technologies


Current Issue
2024, vol. 68, No. 7
Topical Themes of the Issue:
  • The Supporting Structure of Global Security
  • Institutional Features of the Fourth Energy Transition
  • The Evolution of Modern German Christian Democracy
  • The Monarchies of the Persian Gulf and Central Asia
Submit an Article
The Editorial Board invites authors to write analytical articles on the following topics:
  • changes in the processes of globalization in modern conditions
  • formation of the new world order
  • shifts in civilization at the stage of transition to a digital society

The editors are also interested in publishing synthesis articles / scientific reviews revealing the main trends in the development of certain regions of the world - Latin America, Africa, South Asia, etc.