Department of Political Science


Dr Richard McMahon awarded Journal of Contemporary European Studies Prize

23 October 2023

Article "Is Alt-Europe possible? Populist radical right counternarratives of European integration" was selected by a jury as the best article published in the journal in 2022.



Congratulations to Dr Richard McMahon who was awarded the Journal of Contemporary European Studies Prize this year. The prize goes to the best article, as judged by a jury of peers, published in the journal during the previous volume.

The Prize Jury consisted of:

  • Gill Allwood (Chair), (JCES Editorial Committee and Nottingham Trent University)
  • Theofanis Exadaktylos (University of Surrey)
  • Muireann O'Dwyer (University of St. Andrews)

The Jury’s verdict was:

“This outstanding article makes an important contribution to contemporary European Studies and demonstrates high levels of rigour in its research and analysis. It was a pleasure to read and we are very happy with our decision.”


Is Alt-Europe possible? Populist radical right counternarratives of European integration

Author: Dr Richard McMahon
Published online: 04 May 2021


After the 2016 Brexit referendum, European populist radical right (PRR) parties shifted towards what I call an alt-European policy programme. Alt-Europe is a conservative, xenophobic intergovernmental vision of a European ‘community of sovereign states’, ‘strong nations’ or ‘fatherlands’, that abhors the EU’s ‘centralised’ United States of Europe. Whereas most work on the PRR examines its national impact and plots party programmes on a spectrum from soft to hard Euroscepticism, this article instead contributes to cutting edge transnational research on PRR narratives. I use qualitative content analysis to identify narratives that support or undermine alt-Europe, and tropes that refer to them, in the thirteen parliamentary, presidential and European election manifestoes since 2012 of four major PRR parties, AfD (Germany), PiS (Poland), Lega (Italy) and FN (France). Contesting the hard-soft dichotomy in Euroscepticism studies, the article identifies enduring alt-European master narratives across Europe. These stories of geopolitics, democracy, money and especially ethnic understandings of Christian civilisational identity offer important shared narrative resources for programmes of both reforming and replacing the EU. Common narratives also support the PRR unity needed to implement an alt-European programme. However, PRR parties’ extreme nationalism and different interpretations of these narratives strongly impede this cooperation.


Find out more and read the article