36 years of research on the Front National, the Le Pens, & their voters

The year is 2022. For the third time, a Le Pen is proceeding to the run-off for the French presidency. And unlike 2002 (when her father stood) and 2017, Marine Le Pen has a chance to win this time. Without doubt, a Le Pen presidency would upend French, European, and even global politics. This is…

Video: the radical right & 4 critical elections in Western Europe in 2017

AfD results in 2017 federal election in Germany (map of districts)

As (West) European election years go, 2017 was quite something. The French party system changed beyond recognition. The radical right entered Germany’s national parliament for the first time. UKIP was wiped out, but May still managed to lose a comfortable majority. And very high fragmentation resulted in a coalition that looks improbable even by Dutch standards.

SCoRE is our multinational project that explores the link between local and regional living conditions on the one hand and radical right attitudes and behaviours in these four countries on the other. Sometimes, serendipity is really a thing. Because we had our individual-level data collection scheduled for this year anyway, we gained some unique insights into all four big Western European elections of 2017.

Update
The German chunk of this research now forms the base of an open access journal article. Click on the DOI to read it!

  • Arzheimer, Kai and Theresa Bernemann. “‘Place’ Does Matter for Populist Radical Right Sentiment, but How? Evidence from Germany.” European Political Science Review (2023): 1-20. doi:10.1017/S1755773923000279
    [BibTeX] [Abstract] [HTML]

    The notion of ‘place’ has become a central concern in research on the populist radical right (PRR), but scholars seem to have different things in mind when talking about how geography affects individual political attitudes. In our paper, we therefore aim to structure the debate on the impact of place and to understand exactly how place affects PRR attitudes (nativism, right-wing authoritarianism, and populism). Conceptually, we identify four potentially relevant aspects of ‘place’ that underpin much of the current literature: place-related attitudes (localism and resentment), place-specific living conditions, socio-demographic composition, and characteristics unique to a particular place, i.e., its local history and culture. We also discuss how these aspects are related and how they may interact. Empirically, we assess the relative importance of these four aspects of place for PRR sentiment in Germany, a country that is particularly well suited to this type of analysis. Using fine-grained geocoded survey data collected prior to the 2017 election, we find that (1) there is considerable spatial variation and clustering in PRR attitudes, (2) a place’s socio-demographic composition and (3) place resentment account for much of this, while (4) localism has weaker effects. We find (5) no relevant interaction between localism and place resentment, (6) no substantial evidence that mediation through place-related attitudes leads to an underestimation of the other aspects, and (7) no evidence for effects of the unique culture or history of the places we studied. Moreover, (8) location in the former GDR still has a substantial impact, whereas (9) other place-specific conditions (deprivation, demographic decline, migration, rurality) that could be addressed by policy interventions have no or rather weak effects. We conclude that PRR sentiment in ‘places that don’t matter’ results also, though by no means exclusively, from a lack of recognition.

    @Article{arzheimer-bernemann-2023,
    author = {Arzheimer, Kai and Bernemann, Theresa},
    title = {'Place' Does Matter for Populist Radical Right Sentiment, but How?
    Evidence from Germany},
    journal = {European Political Science Review},
    year = 2023,
    pages = {1-20},
    abstract = {The notion of 'place' has become a central concern in research on
    the populist radical right (PRR), but scholars seem to have
    different things in mind when talking about how geography affects
    individual political attitudes. In our paper, we therefore aim to
    structure the debate on the impact of place and to understand
    exactly how place affects PRR attitudes (nativism, right-wing
    authoritarianism, and populism). Conceptually, we identify four
    potentially relevant aspects of 'place' that underpin much of the
    current literature: place-related attitudes (localism and
    resentment), place-specific living conditions, socio-demographic
    composition, and characteristics unique to a particular place,
    i.e., its local history and culture. We also discuss how these
    aspects are related and how they may interact. Empirically, we
    assess the relative importance of these four aspects of place for
    PRR sentiment in Germany, a country that is particularly well
    suited to this type of analysis. Using fine-grained geocoded survey
    data collected prior to the 2017 election, we find that (1) there
    is considerable spatial variation and clustering in PRR attitudes,
    (2) a place's socio-demographic composition and (3) place
    resentment account for much of this, while (4) localism has weaker
    effects. We find (5) no relevant interaction between localism and
    place resentment, (6) no substantial evidence that mediation
    through place-related attitudes leads to an underestimation of the
    other aspects, and (7) no evidence for effects of the unique
    culture or history of the places we studied. Moreover, (8) location
    in the former GDR still has a substantial impact, whereas (9) other
    place-specific conditions (deprivation, demographic decline,
    migration, rurality) that could be addressed by policy
    interventions have no or rather weak effects. We conclude that PRR
    sentiment in 'places that don't matter' results also, though by no
    means exclusively, from a lack of recognition.},
    html = {https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/european-political-science-review/article/place-does-matter-for-populist-radical-right-sentiment-but-how-evidence-from-germany/7C639AAC5F6B1BC2F6324F7D57136827},
    pdf = {https://www.cambridge.org/core/services/aop-cambridge-core/content/view/7C639AAC5F6B1BC2F6324F7D57136827/S1755773923000279a.pdf/place-does-matter-for-populist-radical-right-sentiment-but-how-evidence-from-germany.pdf},
    doi = {10.1017/S1755773923000279}
    }

Accordingly, my colleagues have written up reports for France, Germany, the Netherlands, and the UK, complete with beautiful maps. Who does not like maps?

But perhaps you’re pressed for time or not sure if you really want to read four (fairly short) reports? With the European Parliamentary elections on the horizon, I made a short explainer/teaser video about them to bring you up to speed in just over two minutes. I have a hunch that afterwards, you will want to read all four pieces.

New Blog & Data Base on Political Extremism: Extremis Project

If you are at all interested in political extremism, go straight to the (relatively) new hub that is the Extremis Project. Short updates by country experts, lengthy pieces of in-depth analysis, a growing research database – they have it all. Hell, they even ran a sort of birthday special for the FN’s 40th anniversary.My only…

Does Immigration help or hurt the Front National in France?

In a recent article in the European Journal of Political Research, Kestilä and Söderlund claim (amongst other things) that in the French regional elections of 2004, turnout and district magnitude have significant negative effects on the extreme right vote whereas the effects of the number of party lists and unemployment are positive and significant. Most…