Original Article

Comparative European Politics

, Volume 3, Issue 3, pp 261-288

First online:

Support for Extreme Right-Wing Parties in Western Europe: Individual Attributes, Political Attitudes, and National Context

  • Alan E KesslerAffiliated withDepartment of Government, University of Texas at Austin, 1 University Station A1800
  • , Gary P FreemanAffiliated withDepartment of Government, University of Texas at Austin, 1 University Station A1800

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Abstract

We explain support for extreme right parties (ERPs) in Western Europe through the analysis of individual-level characteristics and national-level contextual variables. Using Eurobarometer Surveys for 1988, 1994, 1997, and 2000 and standard aggregate indicators, we employ appropriate regression models to analyze the probability of voting for an ERP over time and across the seven EU countries with significant ERPs as well as the EU 15. Confirming studies using different or less comprehensive data sets, we find that the bulk of support for ERPs comes from young, less-educated males who harbor anti-immigrant attitudes and are dissatisfied with the political system. However, our findings diverge from previous literature in several instances. We find that individual attitudes, specifically anti-immigrant sentiment and political disaffection, are better predictors of intentions of voting for ERPs than are more traditional socioeconomic characteristics such as manual occupational status, personal unemployment, or national unemployment levels.

Keywords

political attitudes extreme right parties immigration European politics European Union