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The Masks of the Political God by Luca Ozzano

Dissecting Support for Populist Right-Wing Parties. A Comparison Between Mature and Post-Communist European Democracies

Europe (Central and Eastern)
Political Participation
Political Parties
Survey Research
Voting Behaviour
Jasper Muis
Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
Jasper Muis
Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
Teodora Gaidytė
Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
Tobias Brils
Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

This paper investigates which individual-level factors explain electoral support for populist right-wing parties in Europe. It employs European Social Survey data (2014) collected in 16 countries. We use a threefold comparative research design. First, we compare three explanatory approaches: ‘threatened socio-economic status’, ‘cultural backlash’ and ‘protest vote’. Second, we contrast populist right voters with voters of the centre-right, voters of left-wing parties and the abstainers. A multilevel multinomial regression model is used to conduct this comparison. Third, we compare mature and post-communist democracies to grasp to what extent the three accounts for electoral support for the populist right differ between these two regions. We conclude that the explanations in mature and post-communist democracies are generally similar. However, the strength of these explanations widely varies between voters of the different party families and the abstainers. We find that populist right voters are clearly not the so-called economic “losers” when compared to the abstainers: rather, non-voters are lower educated and have a lower income. In terms of the cultural domain, populist right-wing voters in post-communist countries are not the so-called “losers” of globalization either when compared to left-wing voters: they do not differ in their perceived ethnic threat.
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