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Authoritarian Legacies and their Effect on Political Attitude Formation

Extremism
Populism
Methods
Quantitative
Political Regime
Public Opinion
Voting Behaviour
Youth
Roula Nezi
University of Surrey
Kathrin Busch
GESIS, Leibniz
Roula Nezi
University of Surrey
Paula Schäfer
University of Duisburg-Essen

Abstract

As many analysts have noted, in recent years a wave of authoritarian populism has arisen across Europe and the United States. But the origins of populist authoritarianism go back further. For the past two decades, there has been an ongoing surge of support for populist right parties and authoritarian leaders in Europe. Common examples are Jean-Marie and Marine Le Pen’s Front National in France, Umberto Bossi and Matteo Salvini’s Lega Nord in Italy, Geert Wilders’ Party for Freedom in the Netherlands, and Fidesz and Jobbik in Hungary. Even in Germany, which was long considered an exception to this trend, we now observe the rise of the AfD, which has proven especially strong in the former East. There are many theories explaining why authoritarian populism is on the rise, though the two dominant explanations are i) socio-economic theories, and ii) cultural backlash. The socio-economic theories explain the rise of authoritarian populism as a result of the rise of inequality and social exclusion, while the cultural backlash argument sees it as a result of fears of cultural and social change. In our analysis we provide a further explanation related to authoritarian legacies. By using Germany as our case-study, we argue that authoritarian legacies can fuel the rise of authoritarian attitudes, and consequently, the rise of Radical Right Parties and authoritarian leaders. To test our hypothesis we use a dataset that combines data on individual attitudes since the early 1980s combined with socio-economic data on incomes, levels of inequality, and unemployment at the local level, applying Age-Period-Cohort models to analyse time-varying social and political changes, and identify the trends and their dynamics among the population.