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Work in Progress

Left Behind Whom? Economic Status Loss and Populist Radical Right Voting

Manuscript (publicly available on SocArXiv, but email me for the most recent version):

Scholars have increasingly endeavoured to reconcile economic and cultural explanations of the demand for the populist radical right (PRR). These attempts commonly bring up citizens’ resentment against their gradual marginalisation within society. Yet the individual-level influence of economic inequalities on PRR support remains disputed. To address this shortage, the present study investigates whether PRR voters’ economic status – meaning their objective economic position within the social hierarchy – has been worsening over time. We do so by developing a novel positional measure of income, allowing us to distinguish relative deprivation mechanisms from material deprivation ones. Our analysis combining ESS and Eurostat data on 23 elections across 11 countries Western European countries demonstrates that PRR parties are most successful among voters facing a collective decrease in economic status — as opposed to greater financial hardship. This result is supported by complementary evidence on cultural stances and redistributive preferences. Our considerations are consequential for scholarly debate on the reasons for class PRR alignment and on the electoral fallout of economic inequality.

The intergenerational foundations of class voting: social mobility and electoral choice

in Western Europe (co-authored with Juho Härkönen)


Scholarly explanations of the survival of left parties and the upsurge in mainstream politics discontent often refer to voters’ intergenerational mobility resulting from the post-industrial transition. As the occupational structure evolves, voters across generations are exposed to heterogenous life chances, and the social elevator progressively alters class voting patterns. Yet empirical evidence for the electoral implications of social ascent and decline as well as their reasons is mixed at best — likely because most empirical studies seek for homogenous average mobility effects. To address this limitation, we analyse the diverse consequences of mobility across social groups in a quasi-descriptive fashion by applying a cutting-edge ANOVA-based OLS model. Contrarily to prior studies, this approach allows us to identify class-specific mobility effects on voting (ceteris paribus), consistently with theory. Our analyses draw on individual-level detailed information on both intergenerational social mobility and political behaviour from the European Social Survey (rounds 1-9) across 19 Western European countries. Although scholarly accounts on the consequences of social mobility averagely find little to no support in our analyses, we do observe some significant and substantial class-specific effects of both social ascent and descent on voting choice.

Deindustrialization, place-based community identity and far-right voting in Europe

Drawbacks of the post-industrial transition are often observed to favour the radical right. Remarkable ethnographic evidence – primarily from the American context – suggests that this is most likely to occur in presence of a place-based community identity, meaning a particular combination of social capital and parochialism. However, comparative research based on quantitative data and considering the European context is much scarcer. To address this gap, we exploit a unique historical shock that engendered a long-lasting place-based community identity in certain Italian localities. We study whether political reactions to deindustrialization – which we analyse in an instrumental variable setting – are more acute in these areas compared to elsewhere in the country. To improve the external validity of our findings, we also construct a survey-based composite indicator of place-based community identity to assess how it moderates the relation between regional economic decline and voting in Europe using district-level official election results and individual-level survey data.