Getting the Problem Definition Right: The Radical Right, Populism, Nativism and Public Health; Comment on “A Scoping Review of Populist Radical Right Parties’ Influence on Welfare Policy and its Implications for Population Health in Europe”

Document Type : Commentary


1 Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), Brussels, Belgium

2 School of Health and Social Care, University of Essex, Colchester, UK


Building on Rinaldi and Bekker’s scoping review of articles on the impact of populist radical right (PRR) politics on welfare and population health, this short article formulates three pointers towards a framework that might help structure future research into PRR, populist politics more generally, and coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and other health issues. First, we discuss the centrality of welfare chauvinism to the PRR’s impact on health, taking this as a cue for a broader reflection on the importance on distinguishing between the nativist and populist dimensions of PRR politics. Secondly, we turn our attention to the potential moderating effect of the PRR’s welfare chauvinism on the welfare cuts proposed by their right-wing coalition partners, comments we see as pointing to the need to focus on nativist, populist, neoliberal and other threats to welfare policy more generally, rather than on the PRR only. Thirdly, we reflect on the paradoxical nature of welfare chauvinism – its negative consequences for the health of the ‘own people’ it proclaims to defend – as a starting point for a brief discussion of the need to consider carefully the not-so-straightforward relation between the PRR’s political rhetoric, its (impact on) policy and institutions, and the outcomes of such policy.


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Volume 10, Issue 8
August 2021
Pages 523-527
  • Receive Date: 29 June 2020
  • Revise Date: 20 July 2020
  • Accept Date: 20 July 2020
  • First Publish Date: 01 August 2021