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Lost in Welfare-Chauvinism? Left-Wing Parties in Times of Economic Turmoil

Cleavages
European Union
Nationalism
Political Competition
Political Parties
Welfare State
Mattia Collini
Dipartimento di Scienze Politiche e Sociali, Università di Firenze
Matteo Boldrini
University of Florence
Mattia Collini
Dipartimento di Scienze Politiche e Sociali, Università di Firenze
Sorina Soare
Dipartimento di Scienze Politiche e Sociali, Università di Firenze

Abstract

With limited exceptions, traditional left-wing parties have been facing a complex crisis across Europe for a while, both in terms of electoral results or capacity to mobilize members and/or sympathizers. In this context, we aim to analyze the differences in the electoral success of left-wing and radical-left parties in the current 28 EU countries, plus Norway and Switzerland. We take into account their electoral results between the first election prior to the European economic crisis (2009) and the most recent legislative elections. In line with the objectives of the Workshop, we assess the relation between changes in social policies (chiefly social expenditures), a central issue in the traditional left wing programs, and electoral results for left wing parties. We acknowledge that while traditional welfare state resources targeted national citizens mainly, progressive inclusion of non-nationals induced a wide category of heterogeneous representatives of welfare chauvinism to voice their opposition. On this ground, we aim to assess if changes in welfare policies, considered with regard to social expenditures, can be a relevant variable for explaining electoral shifts from left-wing parties to other parties on the left (radical-left parties) or contenders on the right that endorse forms of welfare chauvinism (radical-right populist parties). Our analysis is based on largely quantitative research examining electoral data and macroeconomic variables, plus data on political orientation of parties (GAL-TAN positions and economic left-right). In doing so, we first provide a general assessment of the relationship between social policies and electoral results for left wing parties (both traditional and radical left) and welfare-chauvinist, and formulate our expectations. The second part is dedicated to a preliminary analysis of the data, focusing on potential differences connected to parties that are in government or in opposition, variations among welfare state models, and the existence of contenders with welfare chauvinist positions.