Denis Cohen
Economic Risk, Anti-Immigration Preferences, and Voting Radical Right

3-Länder-Tagung DVPW, ÖGPW, SVPW, Zürich, February 14th to February 16th, 2019

The unparalleled electoral support for radical right parties in recent years displays sharp socio-economic and socio-structural divides. Drawing on literatures on the political economy of political preferences and issue voting, I argue that exposure to latent economic risks – as opposed to experiences of economic hardship – attracts individuals to the radical right. Shaping restrictive immigration preferences is a defining, yet not exhaustive link by which this effect translates into radical right support. I use an explicit mediation model to test the indirect and direct effects of economic risk in comparative perspective. My findings show that economic risk promotes radical right voting to a significant degree by way of shaping immigration preferences, especially where demand for immigration restriction is met with credible political supply. Over and beyond this mechanism, however, radical right parties jeopardize their appeal to economically vulnerable individuals when they join center-right government coalitions. These findings offer important implications for the study of political preferences and comparative voting behavior alike.