Essay on The Extreme Right Party Electorate in Western Europe

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The extreme right parties in Western Europe emerged successfully in the 1980s. Evans (2005) argues how their surge effectively moved them from outcasts to political entrepreneurs. From this wave of success to the present day, a number of socio-economic and political factors have facilitated a change in the socio- demographic of the party’s electorate over time. However, what has become significantly interesting in new analysis is that their electorate patterns are becoming increasingly similar across countries despite electoral success (Hainsworth, 2008). Although one cannot stereotype the extreme right electorate, the trends over time and across countries can suggest who are most likely to vote for them. This essay will discuss the socio-demographic profile thematically, examining gender, age, education and class in order to illustrate how the electorate of parties has changed over the last 35 years. The discussion will outline whether the trend is the same across all countries and why these groups are more likely to vote for extreme right parties.
The first socio- demographic to be examined is Gender. This is the only socio- demographic that has not witnessed any significant change since the 1980s. It has been observed that there is a clear strong bias towards men, making them overrepresented in the electorate. This is highlighted through the significant amount of literature and surveys that apart from some exceptions illustrate the male trend has continued over the last 35 years. For instance, Betz (1994) has argued the bias has “persisted regardless of party’s ideology or whether or not it had established itself in the party system” (Betz, 1994; 142-143). Looking at results from the 1984 elections in France, 13 per cent were ...

... middle of paper ... in Radical Right-wing Populist Party Support’, Comparative European Politics, 3(1): 76-101.
• Givens, Terri E. (2004), ‘The Radical Right Gender Gap’, Comparative Political Studies, 37(1): 30-54
• Goodwin, Matthew J., Robert Ford, Bobby Duffy and Rea Robey (2010), ‘Who votes Extreme Right in Twenty-First Century Britain? The Social Bases of Support for the National Front and the British National Party, in Roger Eatwell and Matthew J. Goodwin (eds), The ‘New’ Extremism in Twenty-First Century Britain, pp. 191-210, Abingdon: Routledge.
• Hainsworth, Paul (2008), The Extreme Right in Western Europe, Abingdon: Routledge ( page numbers)
• Mudde, Cas (2007), Populist Radical Right Parties in Europe, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 111-117
• Norris, Pippa (2005), Radical Right: Voters and Parties in the Electoral Market, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.

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