Since the European-wide domination of social democratic governments during the mid- to late-1990s, Right-wing parties have returned to power in the three largest Mediterranean democracies – Italy, France and Spain. This alternation has been symptomatic of growing majoritarianism in Southern Europe, a trend which has gone against much of the rest of the continent, and of a decline in clientelist effectiveness also traditionally seen as the Southern ‘norm’.
This volume assesses the subsequent periods of incumbency of these three governments, considering the salient features of each in their reaction to winning government and implementing policy, given their divergent historical roots and paths to power. In particular, it focuses on the evolving role of perceived extremist elements on the Right, and adaptation to a European arena which imposes a level of continuity on incumbents of whatever hue, attempts to defend national interests notwithstanding. Lastly, it considers the extent to which the swing to the Right has already reached its peak, given the evidence of recent national and regional elections in France and Spain.
Introduction The Mainstream Right. The Nature of the Right in Italy. Unity and Plurality in the French Right. Party Change in the Spanish Right. The Right in Power. Populism and Pragmatism in the Berlusconi Government. The Raffarin Government: A Case of Campaigning Conservatism? Aznar and the Partido Popular Governments. The Right and Europe. The Spanish Right and European Integration: Re-Crafting a Conservative Position. The Extreme Right. Passage of Witness in the Italian Extreme Right. A Bastion of Solitude: Placing the Front National in the French Right.
The parallel regime transitions of the 1970s, when Southern Europe was the vanguard of the ‘third wave’ of democratisation, the impact of EU membership and Europeanisation and more recently, the region’s central role in the eurozone crisis have all made Southern Europe a distinctive area of interest for social science scholars. The South European Society and Politics book series promotes new empirical research into the domestic politics and society of South European states. The series, open to a broad range of social science approaches, offers comparative thematic volumes covering the region as a whole and on occasion, innovative single-country studies. Its geographical scope includes both ‘old’ and ‘new’ Southern Europe, defined as Italy, Greece, Portugal, Spain, Cyprus, Malta and Turkey.