Multiple Paths to the Populist Radical Right: Voting for Populist Radical Right Parties in Cities and the Countryside

16.04.2018 - 12:00 to 13:30
Location : 
A 5,6 Raum A 231
Type of Event : 
AB B-Kolloquium
Prof. Wouter van der Brug
Lecturer affiliation: 
Universität Amsterdam

Across Europe populist radical right parties are thriving. However, they are considerably more popular in some areas (neighborhoods, municipalities, regions) than others. Populist radical right parties perform well in some cities and in some rural areas.  Hence, conventional explanations for geographical variations in the electoral support for the populist radical right – such as explanations focused on the presence of immigrants or the existence of feelings of ‘rural resentment’ – cannot account for the support of populist radical right parties in all areas. In our paper we argue that these geographic patterns of populist radical right support is an expression of anxiety in the face of rapid social change. However, the way in which social change manifests itself differs significantly between areas. In urban areas the influx of migrants constitutes an important social transformation and thus an explanation for the support for the radical right. In rural areas change comes in the form of social decline (e.g. demographic decline and the disappearance of (public) services), developments that undermine prosperity, well-being and community coherence. Using unique geo-referenced survey data from the Netherlands we analyze the support for populist radical right parties among 7,000 Dutch respondents. We distinguish between respondents living in urban or rural areas based on the population density of their (sub-municipal) district.Our analyses demonstrate that that the presence of immigrants (and increases therein) can explain why populist radical right parties are more popular in some urban areas than in others, but that this explanation does not hold in rural areas. In these areas the outmigration of young people and the decline in services are important factors driving the success of populist radical right parties. Hence, to understand the support for the populist radical right the heterogeneity of its electorate should be recognized and the idea of equifinality should be embraced.