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ECPR 50th Anniversary Fund

Explaining Support for Right-Wing Populist Parties in Central and Eastern Europe

Europe (Central and Eastern)
 
Extremism
 
Political Participation
 
Populism
 
Electoral Behaviour
 
Voting Behaviour
 
European Parliament
 
Presenter
Andrés Santana
Universidad Autònoma de Madrid – Instituto de Políticas y Bienes Públicos del CSIC
Authors
Andrés Santana
Universidad Autònoma de Madrid – Instituto de Políticas y Bienes Públicos del CSIC
Piotr Zagórski
Universidad Autònoma de Madrid – Instituto de Políticas y Bienes Públicos del CSIC

Abstract
The growth in the success of populist parties in many developed democracies has prompted a parallel increase in the studies on the electoral sociology of right-wing populist parties (RPP) in Western Europe and, to a lesser extent, in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE). However, the improvement of our understanding of the implications of RPP for party systems and political competition has not been accompanied by an equal progress regarding their effect on political participation and representation. Indeed, the relationship between turnout and populism has been understudied in the literature, especially for post-communist countries. Putting a spotlight on these polities is substantial, because the combination of low levels of electoral participation and broad electoral success of RPP in the region is challenging for the argument that populist parties may close a representational gap for citizens whose preferences are unmet by the political supply of other parties. By examining who votes for RPP, as compared to those who abstain or vote for other parties, this paper aims at assessing whether particular characteristics related to theoretical approaches such as the silent counterrevolution, losers of globalization, euroscepticism, and political disaffection increase the propensity to cast a ballot for RPP. We estimate multinomial logistic regression models using cross-sectional data of the 2014 European Elections Study for 9 CEE countries. The results show that RPP are successful, unlike the remaining parties, in drawing to the polls certain citizens, such as those young, low educated, anti-immigrant, manual workers, far-right, and eurosceptic.
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