Radical Right-Wing Parties in Western Europe and Their Populist Appeal: An Empirical Explanation

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 08:30
Oral Presentation
Pamela Irving JACKSON, Rhode Island College, USA
Peter DOERSCHLER, Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania, USA
In a majority of western European states the percentage share of the vote cast for radical right-wing populist parties in national elections was over 10% by 2015, reaching 46% in Austria’s 2016 presidential election. Policy agendas have also moved to the right, demonstrating greater restrictiveness on immigration and skepticism toward the EU. With data from the Chapel Hill Expert Survey, European Social Survey, Multiculturalism Policy Index, and Parliaments and Governments Database, we extend current models of electoral support for far-right parties by assessing whether the ethnic majority’s sense of discrimination and safety help explain the allure of the right-wing message. Does right-wing populist voting by majority group members reflect their sense of being personally disadvantaged in a multicultural state beyond their more general opposition to immigration as bad for the country? Building on the multivariate model of voter preference developed by Inglehart and Norris (2016), we look specifically at majority group members in thirteen western European states and add two measures of personal grievance: sense of being in a group that is discriminated against and fear of walking alone at night. We examine voter support for stable radical right-wing populist parties identified by Akkerman, de Lange, Rooduijn (2016). Our results suggest that along with their stance against immigration and multiculturalism, their socioeconomic appeals and ideological signals, radical right-wing populist parties draw majority group members’ votes by stoking their sense of personal grievance as members of a group that is discriminated against, the “forgotten ones . . . triple nothings” (Marine Le Pen in her 2011 speech in Metz, cited in Ivaldi, 2016:231). We discuss the significance of these findings for efforts to maintain liberal democracy in the face of the threat posed by the radical right.