Explaining variation in the success of extreme right parties in Western Europe

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Methodological problems associated with selection bias and interaction effects have hindered the accumulation of systematic knowledge about the factors that explain cross-national variation in the success of extreme right parties. The author uses a statistical analysis that takes account of these problems to examine the effect of electoral institutions, unemployment, and immigration on the support for these parties. The data set used in this analysis is new and spans 19 countries and 165 national elections. There are four substantive conclusions. The first is that it is important to distinguish between neofascist and populist parties on the extreme right because their fortunes depend on different factors. The second is that populist parties do better in countries where the district magnitude is larger and more seats are allocated in upper tiers. The third is that although immigration has a positive effect on populist parties irrespective of the unemployment level, unemployment only matters when immigration is high. Finally, there is evidence that the permissiveness of the electoral system mediates the effect of immigration on populist parties.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)432-466
Number of pages35
JournalComparative Political Studies
Issue number4
StatePublished - May 2003

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science


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