On Extremism and Democracy in Europe  book cover
1st Edition

On Extremism and Democracy in Europe

ISBN 9781138714717
Published February 7, 2017 by Routledge
188 Pages

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Book Description

On Extremism and Democracy in Europe is a collection of short and accessible essays on the far right, populism, Euroscepticism, and liberal democracy by one of the leading academic and public voices today. It includes both sober, fact-based analysis of the often sensationalized "rise of the far right" in Europe as well as passionate defence of the fundamental values of liberal democracy. Sometimes counter-intuitive and always thought-provoking, Mudde argues that the true challenge to liberal democracy comes from the political elites at the centre of the political systems rather than from the political challengers at the political margins. Pushing to go beyond the simplistic opposition of extremism and democracy, which is much clearer in theory than in practice, he accentuates the internal dangers of liberal democracy without ignoring the external threats. This book is essential reading for anyone interested in European politics, extremism and/or current affairs more generally.

Table of Contents

Part I: The Far Right

1. The populist radical right: a pathological normalcy

2. Three decades of populist radical right parties in Western Europe: So what?

3. The myth of Weimar Europe

4. Putin’s Trojan Horses? 5 theses on Russia and the European far right

5. Local shocks: the far right in the 2014 European elections

6. Europe of Nations and Freedoms: Financial Success, Political Failure

7. Viktor Orbán and the difference between radical right parties and radical right politics

Part II: Populism

8. Jean-Claude Jucker and the populist zeitgeist in European politics

9. The problem with populism

10. Populism and liberal democracy: is Greece the exception or the future of Europe? (interview with Antonis Galanopoulos)

11. Populism: a primer

Part III: Euroscepticism

12. European integration: after the fall

13. The European elite’s politics of fear

14. What will the European elections bring the Western Balkans?

15. The 2014 European elections in numbers

16. Electoral winners and political losers in the right-wing Eurosceptic camp

17. The key lessons of Syriza’s defeat? A different Europe requires both ideology and competence

18. It’s time to end the Eurosceptic illusions

19. "Weimar Greece" and the future of Europe

20. Portugal faces a political crisis, but it’s the same one facing governments everywhere

Part IV: Liberal Democracy

21. The intolerance of the tolerant

22. After the storms: time to go beyond the obvious responses

23. Norway’s democratic example

24. The do’s and don’ts of banning political extremism

25. No, we are NOT all Charlie (and that’s a problem)

26. What freedom of speech? Of foxes, chickens, and #JeSuisCharlie

27. As Europe looks fearfully outside, its liberal democracy is under attack from within

28. Epilogue: European democracy after Paris



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Cas Mudde is Associate Professor in the School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Georgia, USA, and Researcher in the Center for Research on Extremism (C-REX) at the University of Oslo, Norway.


Never afraid to tell it like it is, Cas Mudde may be a born contrarian but he always knows what he’s talking about. This collection exemplifies Mudde's trademark mix of scholarly expertise and take-no-prisoners commitment to making us all think twice before we take too much for granted. Genuinely a great read.

Tim Bale, Professor of Politics, Queen Mary University of London, UK

A must-read for anyone interested in this riveting European political moment—populism, freedom of speech, far-right, far-left, religion, Euroscepticism, and euro-crisis. It’s all here: well written, provocative, and engaging. Always original and thought-provoking, Cas Mudde combines wonderful political savvy with unrivalled academic expertise. 

Catherine Fieschi, Director, Counterpoint, UK

Cas Mudde is the leading public intellectual drawing attention to the challenges to liberal democracy and the European project represented by populist, Eurosceptic parties. Dismissing convenient, simplistic hype over this phenomenon and highlighting the contradictory responses of governments this book defines the issues likely to dominate European politics for years to come.

Geoffrey Harris, European Parliament official (1976-2016) and author of The Dark Side of Europe.

This collection distils the essential Mudde. His characteristically forthright dissection of key political trends includes a primer on populism that will be widely cited, but he also warns of the dangers of blaming populism for all the problems besetting liberal democracy in Europe today. Mudde's analysis of the damage done by mainstream parties and politicians in the name of combatting extremism should be essential reading for all Europeans worried about the future of democracy and the EU.

Heather Grabbe, Director, Open Society European Policy Institute, Belgium

Cas Mudde is one of the leading specialists of the populist radical right. He is also a man with strong moral and civic values. The pathological normalcy theory he exposes in this collection of his articles is a key to understanding the mounting challenge of the extreme right to liberal democracy. It is also well worth reading his criticism of "undemocratic liberalism", as the reason for the successes of Left-Wing populism.

Jean-Yves Camus, Directeur de l'Observatoire des radicalités Politiques (ORAP), Paris