Parties of the extreme right are to some extent ‘masters of their own success’. That is, regardless of the polit ical envir on ment in which they operate and regard less of the insti tu tional contexts within which they find them selves, their elect oral success will depend, in part, on the ideo logy they espouse and the policies they put forward, and on the way in which they are organ ized and led. This chapter focuses on the first of these party-centric factors, and examines the extent to which the ideo lo gies of the extreme right parties influ ence their fortunes at the polls. Rather than there being a uniform right-wing extrem ist ideo logy, the ideas and policies of the differ ent parties vary quite consid er ably, with some of these being more popular with the elect or ate than others. Consequently, it is quite possible that the vari ation in the elect oral success of the parties of the extreme right across Western Europe may be partly explained by the pres ence of differ ent ideo lo gies, with the more success ful right-wing extrem ist parties embra cing one type of ideo logy and the less success ful ones adopt ing another. The chapter begins by discuss ing the much-debated concept of right-wing extrem ism and
by examin ing the differ ent termin o logy used to describe the parties. Then it considers the exist ing studies of right-wing extrem ist party ideo logy, and invest ig ates the ways in which these works have sought to illus trate the diversity that exists among the West European parties of the extreme right. As will become clear from this discus sion, these exist ing studies suffer from a number of limit a tions and, in the light of this, the chapter puts forward an altern at ive typo logy of right-wing extrem ist parties. Five differ ent types of right-wing extrem ist party are iden ti fied. On the one hand, this typo logy allows for the full diversity that exists within the right-wing extrem ist party family to be illus trated. On the other, it means that the link between the parties’ ideo logy and their elect oral scores can be invest ig ated. In this way it becomes possible to ascertain whether right-wing extrem ist party success is linked to a specific type of ideo logy, or whether, conversely, the nature of a party’s ideo logy matters little to its elect oral success. The chapter concludes with some thoughts on the import ance of party ideo logy in an overall explana tion of the dispar ity in the elect oral fortunes of the West European parties of the extreme right.