Contextual Factors and the Extreme Right Vote in Western Europe, 1980-2002

Over the last 7 years or so, much of my work has focused on the question of why support for the Extreme Right is so unstable over time and so uneven across countries. In a recent paper on Contextual Factors and the Extreme Right Vote in Western Europe, 1980-2002, I estimate a model that aims at providing a more comprehensive and satisfactory answer to this research problem by employing a broader database and a more adequate modelling strategy, i.e. multi-level modelling. The main finding is that while immigration and unemployment rates are important, their interaction with other political factors is much more complex than suggested by previous research. Moreover, persistent country effects prevail even if a whole host of individual and contextual variables is controlled for. Replication data for this article is available from my dataverse.

The final version of the paper will appear in the April issue of the American Journal of Political Science, which is obviously great.

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Christian Religiosity and Voting for West European Radical Right Parties

Does religion make you a better or worse human being? More specifically, does Christian religiosity reduce or increase the likelihood of a radical/extreme right vote in a West European context? This is the question Liz and I are trying to address in our latest paper on “Christian Religiosity and Voting for West European Radical Right Parties“.

There are a number of reasons why good Christians could be more likely to vote for the Right than agnostics: American research starting in the 1940s has linked high levels of church attendance and a closed belief systems to support for rightism. More over, contemporary Radical Right parties try to frame the issue of immigration in terms of a struggle between Christian/Western values and Islam.

On the other hand, many of the most radical parties (e.g. the Austrian FPÖ) have anti-clerical roots. Moreover, the Churches give support and shelter to refugees/immigrants in many countries, and some pro-immigrant movements are inspired by Christian values. Finally, religious voters are often firmly tied to Christian-Democratic parties and will therefore not be available for the Radical Right.

We develop a theoretical model that incorporates these mechanisms and use Structural Equation Modelling to test this model in eight countries: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Italy, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and Norway. As it turns out, religious people do not differ from their more agnostic compatriots in terms of their attitudes towards immigrants. They are, however, less likely to vote for the radical right because they often identify with Christian Democratic/Conservative parties. The final version of the paper will appear in West European Politics.

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Call for Papers: Perspectives on the Radical Right

Finally, the call for papers for the ECPR’s 5th conference (at Potsdam, September 10-12 2009) is out. Our section on the Radical Right will consist of the following nine panels:

  • The Radical Right in Central and Eastern Europe
  • The Internationalisation of the Radical Right
  • Will Fascism return?
  • On the Borderline Between Protest and Violence: Political Movements of the New Radical Right
  • Consequences of the surge of anti-immigration parties
  • The Radical Right in Western Europe
  • Inside the Radical Right: An Internalist Perspective
  • Party-based Euroscepticism in Western and Eastern Europe
  • Neighbourhood Effects Revisited: the Visualisation of Immigrants and Radical Right-Wing Voting

Each panel can have up to five paper givers, so the section offers us a chance to bring together cutting edge research on the Populist/Extreme/Radical Right from various subfields (parties, voters, rational choice, normative theory – you name it). Please submit your abstract via the the electronic submission system to the appropriate panel(s).

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Extreme Right Book now online

Courtesy of Google’s book search, a large parts of my new book on the Extreme Right in Western Europe (in German) is now available online. I don’t know how they calculate which and how many pages one may view but I was able to read several consecutive pages of it. Plus you have the search function which comes in handy if you know exactly what you are looking for e.g. because you want to verify a quote. And if Google fails you, you can always try amazon which has its own online version of “Die Wähler der Extremen Rechten 1980-2002”. Nice.
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What Drives the Extreme Right Vote: Protest, Neo-Liberalism or Anti-Immigrant Sentiment?

Everyone just seems to know that the voters of the Extreme Right hate foreigners in general and immigrants in particular, but robust comparative evidence for the alleged xenophobia – Rad"Our own people first"ical Right vote link is scarce. Moreover, many of the published analyses are based on somewhat outdated (i.e. 1990s) data, and alternative accounts of the extreme right vote (the “unpolitical” protest hypothesis and the hypothesis that the Far Right in Western Europe attracts people with “neo-liberal” economic preferences, championed by Betz and Kitschelt in the 1990s) do exist. Just a few days ago, a journal has accepted a paper by me in which I test these three competing hypotheses using (relatively) recent data from the European Social Survey and a little Structural Equation Modelling. As it turns out, protest and neo-liberalism have no statistically significant impact on the Extreme Right vote whatsoever. Anti-immigrant sentiment, however, plays a crucial role for the Extreme Right in all countries but Italy. Its effects are moderated by party identification and general ideological preferences. Moreover, the effect of immigrant sentiment is moderate by general ideological preferences and party identification. I conclude that comparative electoral research should focus on the circumstances under which immigration is politicised. Wasn’t it blindingly obvious?

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New Extreme Right Book out – soon?

Over the last seven years our so, much of my research has focused on the voters of the Extreme Right in Western Europe. Last November, I submitted the final draft of a monograph on that topic to a well-established German publishing company, with view of getting the book out in late January. Then, a lot of things happened (or rather failed to happen). But, believe it or not, yesterday they sent me the contract, and now “Die Wähler der extremen Rechten 1980-2002” is officially in print. I’ll keep you posted.

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