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Different Worlds of Contention? Left and Right Protest Across Europe

Comparative Politics
Political Parties
Mobilisation
Protests
Theresa Gessler
Europa-Universität Viadrina
Theresa Gessler
Europa-Universität Viadrina
Endre Borbáth
Freie Universität Berlin

Abstract

The social movement literature argues that while citizens and parties on the left readily use protest mobilisation, citizens and parties on the right only settle for it as a ‘second best option’ after electoral defeat. However, most studies are based on aggregated cross-national comparisons or only include North-Western Europe. We contend the aggregate-level perspective hides a fundamentally different dynamic of protest in different parts of Europe: In Eastern Europe, citizens who identify as right are more likely to protest than citizens who identify as left. Based on individual level data, we replicate the findings of the literature for North-Western and Southern Europe and propose a different pattern for Eastern Europe. We explain these differences by historical legacies: exposure to communism as well as the different effect of mobilizing organizations and values contribute to diverging patterns of protest.