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Jesuit, David
Mahler, Vincent
Year of Publication: 
Series/Report no.: 
LIS Working Paper Series 391
The recent successes of Jean Marie Le Pen's National Front, Jörg Haider's Freedom Party and Pim Fortuyn's 'List' Party, to name just a few, have generated a great deal of anxiety among those concerned about the maintenance of liberal values in European societies. In particular, many commentators point to the xenophobic rhetoric these politicians and their supporters espouse. Others suggest that these electoral successes spring from poor economic performance or the weakening of Europe's established political parties on the left and the right. Whatever the explanation, the sudden surge of support for extreme right parties (ERPs) since the 1980s challenges our understanding of democratic politics in Europe. Although existing research contributes a great deal to our understanding of the rise of ERPs, no single theory has come to dominate the academic literature. In addressing these gaps in the literature, we take advantage of constituency-level electoral data (from Caramani, 2000) to compute regional vote shares for ERPs in national elections in nine countries in the 1990s: Austria (1995), Belgium (1995), Denmark (1994), Finland (1995), France (1997), Germany (1994), Italy (1996), Spain (1993) and the U.K. (1997). These data enable us to measure institutional factors such as the proportionality of electoral systems at the regional level, factors which previous research suggests are positively associated with electoral support for ERPs. In addition, we estimate sub-national levels of poverty, income inequality and welfare generosity as well as such widely examined variables as immigration and percent unemployed. With respect to methods, we employ Tobit analysis, which accounts for the 'left-censoring' of the dependent variable, and include country dummy variables to capture unspecified country-level effects manifested in spatial autocorrelation.
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Working Paper
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