Drifting Apart? The Effects of the Radical Right on Social Polarization

Comparative Politics
Public Opinion
Matthijs Rooduijn
University of Amsterdam
Matthijs Rooduijn
University of Amsterdam

Radical right parties are on the rise. To what extent has the rise of these parties and the messages they spread fueled social polarization regarding attitudes about immigration? Theories on motivated reasoning predict that voters who hold anti-immigration attitudes will further radicalize their ideas when confronted with anti-immigration messages, whereas those who hold positive ideas about immigration will counter the arguments of anti-immigration politicians and thereby become even more strongly pro-immigration. Based on an analysis of European Social Survey data, the paper assesses to what extent the success of radical right parties and the pervasiveness of their messages affect social polarization. It combines individual level data with data on the country-year level regarding issue salience in the media, the electoral success of radical right parties and other cultural, economic and political variables.
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