Growing evidence suggests that increasing socio-economic inequality fosters the electoral success of the far right. Yet the exact socio-economic drivers of support for these parties still cause debate among scholars, as individual-level studies provide limited causal support for the role of economic hardship. The present dissertation addresses this debate in three different ways. Chapter 3 demonstrates that far-right parties are particularly successful among social classes whose economic status – meaning their objective economic position within the social hierarchy – has worsened over time, based on ESS and EU-SILC data. In Chapter 4, my co-author and I analyze class voting patterns in Europe from an intergenerational perspective, by investigating how social mobility influences voting choices, based on ESS-DEVO data. Chapter 5 provides evidence that economic decay causes a far-right response most likely in municipalities with stronger place-based community rootedness, which I measure based on a factor analysis exploiting a variety of data sources including administrative records and phone directory data.
This dissertation reveals a number of socio-economic drivers of the success of the radical right. Farright voters are citizens that have experienced a relative decline in their social class’s economic circumstances over time compared to the rest of society. It is also those that have seen their town suffer from long-term economic decline but are not willing or ready to move somewhere else. It is not those who have seen a decline in their absolute material circumstances, or those who find themselves in a worse situation compared to their parents. To achieve these results, it is crucial to adopt a group-level, relative, and dynamic research approach – unlike extant literature.
These studies suggest that future research on the drivers of far-right voting should further explore the role of the subjective dimension, prior beliefs, and additional sources of socio-economic inequality.
Giuseppe Ciccolini is a Researcher at the University of Milan and a PhD Candidate in Political and Social Sciences at the European University Institute. He also freelances for the OECD as a statistical analyst. He was Adjunct Professor of Political Science at Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf during two academic years. He holds a two-year MRes in Political Science from Sciences Po (Paris) and a MA in European Studies from Sciences Po Strasbourg. He is currently involved in the WOMADE project (P.I.: Prof. Anne-Marie Jeannet), which investigates how manufacturing decline has reconfigured the way that working-class women participate in politics. His PhD dissertation studies the relation between socio-economic inequalities and electoral behaviour in Europe.