Why Norms Matter: The Normalization of the Radical Right

12.09.2023 - 12:00 to 13:30
Location : 
A 5,6 Raum A 231
Type of Event : 
AB B-Kolloquium
Vicente Valentim
Lecturer affiliation: 
Nuffield College, University of Oxford

Why are democratic citizens increasing willing to engage in radical-right behavior, such as voting for radical-right candidates or participating in xenophobic protests? Against previous research, I argue that this is not due to an increase in radical-right preferences among the electorate. Instead, these processes are driven by individuals who had long held radical-right views, but who hid them because they thought they were socially unacceptable. If these voters do not show their views, politicians underestimate how much latent support there is for radical-right policy. This makes radical-right candidates worse quality. If better politicians run for politics with a radical-right platforms, however, they are able to mobilize this muted support for radical-right views, becoming electorally successful. This electoral success, in turn, makes individuals perceive that norms against radical-right behavior are weaker. Radical-right individuals become more comfortable showing their views, and more politicians join the radical right. The argument of the book makes us rethink how political preferences translate into behavior, shows how social norms affect the interaction of political supply and demand, and highlights how a political culture that promotes inclusion can erode.