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The Historical Persistence of Far-Right Influence in Belgium

Zhou, Deyu (2024) The Historical Persistence of Far-Right Influence in Belgium. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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How do far-right populist parties today benefit from the legacy of the past fascist parties? This dissertation reveals a historical connection between contemporary far-right parties with interwar fascist parties. The argument is threefold. First, the historical persistence is an important factor in explaining the success and failure of contemporary far-right parties. Second, the mechanism of historical persistence is the far-right social organizations that could preserve the fascist legacy. Third, the historical contexts, especially the historical narrative, decide whether the far-right social organizations could develop or not. This dissertation uses both quantitative spatial analysis and qualitative historical analysis to investigate the case of Belgium. Belgium is politically divided into Flanders and Wallonia, and the far-right parties are strong in Flanders but weak in Wallonia. This study first demonstrates that the historical persistence of far-right influence exists in Flanders but not in Wallonia. Then this study finds that the major difference between Flanders and Wallonia is the thriving far-right social organization in Flanders, which helped the former fascists preserve their ideology and social connections. Finally, this study reveals that the historical context after the World War II is the key in explaining the development of far-right civil society. The post-war repression against collaborators under the victimization sentiment in Flanders created a favorable historical narrative that facilitated the resurgence of former fascists and the emergence of far-right organizations. This dissertation contributes to our understanding on the success and failure of far-right parties, and provides a nuanced case for the role of civil society on democracy, addressing the importance of historical context.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Zhou, Deyudez12@pitt.eduDEZ12
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairHays,
Committee MemberSpoon,
Committee MemberMacKenzie,
Committee MemberCaluwaerts,
Date: 10 January 2024
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 6 November 2023
Approval Date: 10 January 2024
Submission Date: 4 December 2023
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 224
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Political Science
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Historical Persistence, Far-Right Voting, Belgian History
Date Deposited: 10 Jan 2024 14:17
Last Modified: 10 Jan 2024 14:17


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