Risk Exposure and Voting Radical Right: A Mediation Analysis of the Socio-economic Foundations of Radical Right Support

Political Parties
Voting Behaviour
Denis Cohen
Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
Denis Cohen
Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

How does exposure to socio-economic risk promote individual support for radical right parties? In this Paper, I address this question by emphasizing the link between risk exposure and political attitudes.

Combining insights from recent research on the effects of risk on political preferences with rational theories of voting behavior, I argue that individuals develop immigration-skeptic attitudes in response to exposure to socio-economic risk. Opposition to immigration, then, drives electoral demand for radical right parties. Using data from all waves of the European Social Survey, I test the relevance of this mechanisms in a mediation analysis using estimates from Bayesian hierarchical models.

The findings show that risk exposure affects radical right support exclusively by way of shaping anti-immigration attitudes. This mechanism is contingent on political contexts and only materializes where electoral demand for radical right parties is met with sufficient political supply. These findings offer nuanced implications of the linkage between socio-economic characteristics and political preferences for the study of political behavior.

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"Aristocracies … may preserve themselves longest, but only democracies, which refresh their ruling class, can expand" - Hugh Trevor-Roper

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