Impact of being in the government for populist parties: the comparison of EKRE and the Finns Party
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In this thesis I use comparative process-tracing to compare how two far-right populist parties EKRE and the Finns Party behaved in their respective two years in the government, if and how their strategies differed from being in the opposition and what was the aftermath for both those parties. Using categorization from Katsanidou and Reinl (2020, 353), I compared parties on the axis of responsiveness and responsibility: which strategy the party chose while being in the government. I concluded that EKRE opted for more responsive strategy by continuing in its rhetoric and actions in the similar mood as they behaved in the opposition. The Finns Party, on the other hand, was much more modest in its positions, in rhetoric and actual policy but it ignited internal contradictions in the party, caused its split in 2017 and dropped back to the opposition. In the end, their fate was similar to EKRE, as more radical wing seized the domination in party and turned the Finns Party much more radical. In addition, neither EKRE’s nor the Finns Party’s ratings experienced significant decrease in the long run and thus the mainstream parties’ hope, that including populist parties in the government coalition can restrain them (Kuisma and Nygard 2017, ERR 2019) was short-sighted. I stated that the main reason why parties opted for different strategies lies in parties’ different history: the Finns Party as an older party had to solve differences between more traditional party elite and the radical wing of the party, which particularly on the grassroots level was influenced by some newer populism trends. This was not the case in EKRE, which has through years enjoyed relatively homogeneous internal life and whose agenda has been dominated by small circle of politicians.
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