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Abstract

The rise of the radical right has been widely observed in European party systems throughout the last decade. As many authors have noted, this rise has been associated with a corresponding right-ward shift in the policies and positions of mainstream conservative parties. There has been significant scholarly debate on the underlaying causes of this shift. Interviewing higher and lower-level conservative mainstream officials in the Austrian ÖVP, this thesis seeks to unpack the internal mechanisms which shift mainstream immigration policy right-ward. The theory proposes three such internal mechanisms: discursive credibility, financial resources, and electoral opportunity. The results confirm the importance of two mechanisms, electoral opportunity, and discursive credibility. While the financial resource mechanism is not confirmed via interviewing technique directly, secondary research confirms its importance as well. Ultimately this thesis offers unique micro-level insight into the process by which party factionalism interacts with external forces to produce strategic outcomes.

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