Climate Sceptics or Climate Nationalists? Understanding and Explaining Populist Radical Right Parties’ Positions towards Climate Change (1990–2022)

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Populist radical right parties are often considered to be the most extreme opponents of climate protection in Western Europe. Others predict a ‘climate nationalism’ among populist radical right parties combining nativism with a pro-climate agenda. Based on a new data set on party positions on climate change, including 485 party manifestos – 76 from populist radical right parties – from the 1990s to 2022 in 10 Western European countries, we find that populist radical right parties are divided but generally less likely to speak out for climate protection than other parties, which rather contradicts the climate nationalism argument. We find that populist radical right parties only became more aware of the issue since 2019 in the face of the mass mobilizations of Fridays for Future and, to a lesser extent, when it became a visible issue within the party system. Thus, we argue that populist radical right parties are forced to talk about the climate when the issue is emphasized by organized actors.

Original languageEnglish
JournalPolitical Studies
Number of pages25
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2023.

    Research areas

  • climate, political parties, populism, radical right, Western Europe
  • Politics