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Radical Right Parties’ Economic Positions and Class Bases of Their Electorates

Thu, August 31, 12:00 to 1:30pm, Parc 55, Mission II & III


Recent developments in a number of Western countries – including the British decision to leave the EU, the election of Donald Trump as US president and the close Austrian presidential election – have generated renewed interest in the social bases of voting and voting for radical right parties (RRPs). The topic has also received scholarly attention and a recent study has documented how support for RRPs varies across classes in accordance with these parties’ positions in the economic domain: the further left the parties position themselves, the more working class voters they attract. We aim to expand on this result in two ways. First, we apply a longitudinal, observational design based on national election study data and data from the Comparative Manifesto Project to investigate the class composition of RRP electorates over time as the parties change and adapt their policy platforms. Second, we use survey embedded experiments to probe the causality of the link between RRPs’ economic policy positions and the class basis of their support. The two elements of our design permit a much more stringent evaluation of the claim regarding the economic policy component of RRP electorates than has previously been conducted. The study is carried out in four countries – the Netherlands, Sweden, Norway and Denmark – strategically selected to control the influence of two factors that have proved important in previous scholarship on RRPs: the dimensionality of the traditional cleavage structure in the political system and the degree to which the RRPs possess a so-called reputational shield. While Dutch and Norwegian politics have for decades been multidimensional, the Danish and Swedish systems have been dominated by the economic dimension, and while the Danish and Norwegian RRPs’ origins in tax protesting Progress Parties provide them with reputational shields, the Swedish and Dutch parties do not have such shields.