Dissecting electoral support for the far right. A comparison between mature and post-communist European democracies

Tobias Brils, Jasper Muis*, Teodora Gaidyte

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Abstract

This article investigates three explanations for electoral support for the far right – ‘cultural backlash’, ‘economic grievances’ and ‘protest voting’ – in a novel way. Our main contribution is that we contrast far-right voters with voters of centre-right parties, traditional left-wing parties and abstainers. Equally innovative is the comparison between mature and post-communist democracies. Using European Social Survey data (2014–16), we conclude that anti-immigration attitudes are most important in distinguishing far-right voters from all other groups. Yet, these differences are significantly smaller in Eastern Europe. Furthermore, far-right voters are not the so-called socioeconomic ‘losers of globalization’:
this is only true when compared with centre-right voters. Concerning protest voting, distrust of supranational governance particularly enhances far-right voting. Overall, our study concludes that more fine-grained distinctions pay off and avoid misleading generalizations about ‘European far-right voters’ often presented in public debates.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-28
Number of pages28
JournalGovernment and Opposition
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 4 Aug 2020

Keywords

  • far right
  • populist radical right
  • voting behaviour
  • anti-immigration attitudes
  • abstention
  • post-communist democracies

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