The Far Right and the Left Behind: The Demographic Deepening and Surprising Durability of Far Right Parties in Western Europe, 2009-2014
This project engages with one of the most consequential topics in contemporary party politics: the emergence and persistence of the far right party family in Western Europe. Far right durability, particularly given the increased salience of economic and security issues during and after the Great Recession, serves to highlight the sociodemographic structure of far right electorates and suggests that far right parties participate in a socio-structurally rooted dimension of party competition defined by this sociodemographic base and collective identity around the ‘losers of modernization’, that is mobilized by far right parties. Using public opinion survey data from the European Election Study and Voter Advice Application data from the 2009 and 2014 European elections, this project suggests that far right parties realize greater success by deepening rather than broadening their bases of support across eight West European states. Far right voters display greater unity in positions on wealth redistribution by 2014, and far right parties have moved rightward on that dimension as well. Lastly, economic anxieties also seemingly compel far right support as Europe’s crises continued, which is consistent with literature on economic voting if center left and right parties are perceived as complicit in Europe’s economic problems.