Protest, Neo-Liberalism or Anti-Immigrant Sentiment: What Motivates the Voters of the Extreme Right in Western Europe?

  • Arzheimer Kai


Over the last three decades, the parties of the “Extreme”, “Radical” or “Populist” Right have become a political staple in Western Europe. However, comparative evidence on the motives of their voters is relatively scarce. This article assesses the empirical effects of the most prominent alleged motivational factors on the extreme right vote –“pure” (i.e. performance related) protest, anti-immigrant sentiment, and neo-liberal economic preferences – while controlling for a whole host of background variables. While protest and neo-liberalism have no statistically significant impact whatsoever, immigrant sentiment plays a crucial role in all countries but Italy. Its effect is moderated, however, by general ideological preferences and party identification. Consequentially, comparative electoral research should focus on the circumstances under which immigration is politicised.


Extreme Right Voting Behaviour Western Europe Immigration 


Während der letzten drei Jahrzehnte haben sich die Parteien der „Extremen“, „Radikalen“ oder „Populistischen“ Rechten in Westeuropa zu einer festen politischen Größe entwickelt. Über die Motive ihrer Wähler gibt es jedoch nur relativ wenige vergleichbare Erkenntnisse. In diesem Artikel werden unter Kontrolle einer Vielzahl von Hintergrundvariablen die empirischen Effekte der drei am häufigsten diskutierten Motive auf die Wahl der Extremen Rechten getestet: „reine“ (performanzorientierte) Protesteinstellungen, negative Einstellungen gegenüber Zuwanderern und neo-liberale ökonomische Präferenzen. Während Protesteinstellungen und Neo-Liberalismus keine statistisch signifikanten Effekte haben, spielen negative Einstellungen gegenüber Zuwanderern in allen Ländern außer Italien eine zentrale Rolle. Die international vergleichende Wahlforschung sollte deshalb in Zukunft verstärkt die Bedingungen analysieren, unter denen das Thema Zuwanderung politisiert wird.


Extreme Rechte Wahlverhalten Westeuropa Zuwanderung 


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Copyright information

© Springer 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of GovernmentUniversity of EssexEssexUK

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