I wrote a paper on this topic as part of a course during my Bachelor in psychology. It has been divided into 4 different posts, links can be found at the bottom of this article.
What could have triggered the rise in popularity for right-wing parties in Europe?
Lucassen and Lubbers (2012) analyzed data from the European Social Survey (ESS) to look at far right voting preferences. First of all, they found that the proportion of the population with a Muslim background in a country, in Europe, did not influence far-right preferences. Second, technocrats experience heightened perceptions of cultural ethnic threat, compared to sociocultural specialists, which results in a higher probability of right-wing voting behavior. In this case technocrats being those with technological knowledge and sociocultural specialists depend on specialized knowledge. In countries with a higher GDP, this fear exists as well, they experience concern over losing acquired wealth. Therefore they are more likely to vote far right, in hopes of keeping the status quo. Unfortunately, this study only had 11 European countries in their analysis. However using GDP to measure a legitimate way to operationalize and measure prosperity.
Werts, Scheepers, and Lubbers (2012) used data from the ESS to look at right-wing voting behavior. Instead of looking economic prosperity this study took the opposite into consideration, socio-economic deprivation. Carrying out a multilevel regression analysis on the data, they found that those experiencing socio-economic deprivation have a higher probability of voting for right-wing parties, due to political distrust. The authors did however, not find an increase in Euroscepticism between 2002 and 2008. Although they speculated that because the economic crises associated with the Euro, this might change. And more countries have become weary of a European unification, which has ultimately led to the winning vote of the Brexit in Great Britain. Furthermore, right-wing parties, such as Partij voor de Vrijheid (PVV) in the Netherlands, have publicly voiced Eurosceptic views in the media (Reuters, 2016).
Yılmaz (2012) argues that the popularity of right-wing parties has been increasing since the eighties, and that they have been using anti-immigration rhetoric as their propaganda. The author points out that the emphasis of sharing a common vision and using ‘we’ has created a gap between immigrants and natives. This has caused a hegemonic shift, in which the right supports ‘national identity’. According to Yılmaz, the often re-established link between Islam and terrorism has helped the anti-immigration propaganda. He also points out that the use of language has changed people’s positions on immigration. Religion, Islam in this case, has been made salient and associated with immigrants in turn. Furthermore he argues that Europe has been familiar with conflicts between groups of people for a long time, however these were based on class and identity. And now these social divisions are build on perceived cultural differences. And the populist right has managed to make use of this through framing in media and instilling fear in people by emphasizing cultural differences that are supposedly detrimental to ‘people’s ways of life’. Although Yilmaz (2012) gives a thorough scrutiny of what has contributed to the rise of the right, it would have been interesting to see an actual experiment, to test whether salience of stereotypes leads to more right-wing views.
I wrote a paper on this topic as part of a course during my Bachelor in psychology. It has been divided into 4 different posts.
Part 1: What could have triggered the rise in popularity for right-wing parties in Europe?
Part 2: What could have triggered the rise in popularity for right-wing parties in Europe?
Lucassen, G., & Lubbers, M. (2012). Who fears what? Explaining far-right-wing preference in
Europe by distinguishing perceived cultural and economic ethnic threats. Comparative Political
Studies, 45(5), 547-574.
Reuters. (2016). Dutch anti-immigration leader Wilders calls for Dutch referendum on EU
membership. Retrieved December 14, 2016, from Reuters, http://www.reuters.com /article/us
Werts, H., Scheepers, P., & Lubbers, M. (2012). Euro-scepticism and radical right-wing voting in
Europe, 2002–2008: Social cleavages, socio-political attitudes and contextual characteristics
determining voting for the radical right. European Union Politics, 1465116512469287.
Yılmaz, F. (2012). Right-wing hegemony and immigration: How the populist far-right achieved
hegemony through the immigration debate in Europe. Current sociology, 60(3), 368-381.