Economies and Political Outcomes: Europe's Far Right
Haverford College. Department of Political Science
Place of Publication
Table of Contents
In recent decades, Europe has experienced an ever-growing wave of support for far right political parties that threatens to completely redefine the continent’s long-standing economic and social order. These political parties are by no means entirely homogenous, but they are united in their opposition to immigration and Islam (both of which they define as a threat to Europe’s cultural and economic identity.) This thesis analyzes the factors behind their success in an effort to not only investigate an influential political movement, but also gain a better understanding of the role that various economic, political, and demographic factors play in the determination of voter choice. Making use of the considerable previous research on the subject, I develop and investigate four potential explanations that may explain the variation of far right success across Europe. Using a combination of regressions and nation-specific case studies, I attempt to isolate the factors behind the electoral performance of the far right and discern the implications of this movement for broader theories of voting behavior. My regressions find considerable support for economic explanations of electoral variation, indicating that higher levels of GDP growth and spending on unemployment benefits noticeably depress the vote share of the far right. This project’s case studies, on the other hand, imply that ‘supply side’ factors such as a nation’s political history and charisma demonstrated by the far right’s leadership play an important role in the success of these groups.