The popu list radical right is one of the most studied polit ical phenom ena of the postwar western world. Hundreds of schol arly articles and books have been devoted to it, most notably to contem por ary popu list radical right parties in (Western) Europe. These works are trying to meet the ‘insa ti able demand’ (Bale 2012) for inform a tion on the contem por ary popu list radical right. And this demand is not limited to the schol arly community; rarely a day goes by without at least one media outlet report ing on the popu list radical right. The Great Recession has raised the public and schol arly demand even further, given that received wisdom holds that economic crises lead to the rise of the popu list radical right (see Mudde 2016). While there are many readers on the histor ical far right, i.e. fascism and National Socialism
(e.g. Gregor 2000; Griffin 1998, 1995), no academic reader exists on the contem por ary popu list radical right. Most collect ive research is published in edited volumes, which have at least three weak nesses: (1) they often present single-country chapters, which date rapidly because of the volat ile nature of most popu list radical right parties; (2) they have a limited focus in terms of topics and regions; and (3) they tend to be light on theor et ical insights, which normally are only covered in the intro duct ory or conclud ing chapter. This reader aims to bring together classic articles on the contem por ary popu list radical right party family. It has a broad regional and topical focus and includes mostly work that has made an original theor et ical contri bu tion to the field, which makes it less time-specific. The main aim of this intro duc tion is threefold: (1) to provide a short over view of the
academic study of popu list radical right parties in the postwar era; (2) to outline the conceptual frame work that I have been using in most of my more recent work – but which is not followed by the vast major ity of authors included in this reader; and (3) to present an up-to-date history of the contem por ary popu list radical right in Europe, with a partic u lar focus on the twenty-first century. Obviously, my own work has been strongly influ enced by the writ ings included in this reader and will reflect many of their key insights. In partic u lar, I am a product of the second wave of schol ar ship (see below), stand ing on the shoulders of giants like Hans-Georg Betz, Roger Eatwell, Piero Ignazi, and Herbert Kitschelt, whose seminal texts are included in this volume.