Europe’s Radical Right and the 2008 Crisis – a Preview

One of my New Year’s Resolutions is to write more, so I’ve decided to pick some low-hanging fruit to get 2018 and this new website out of the blocks.

This is a preview for a post I am writing on research that I did a few years ago on radical right parties and the 2008 financial crisis. Since I’ve put a hold on trying to publish it in an academic journal, I’ve decided to post the analysis here instead.

The project analyzes the effect of macroeconomic conditions on radical right party election performance in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. I noticed that there did not appear to be an obvious connection between the severity of the crisis to radical right electoral success, which casts doubt on the common perception that these parties thrive when the economy heads south. For example, countries like Ireland, Spain and Portugal were among the countries hit hardest by the crisis and yet no radical right parties succeeded in those countries during the crisis period.

The two maps below show this (lack of a) pattern in pretty stark terms. The first map displays the change in radical right vote share between the pre- and post-crisis elections. The dark red shading shows regions where radical right parties suffered large reversals in the wake of the 2008 crisis while the dark blue shows the largest improvements.

The second map shows the unemployment rate in the year prior to the various elections in the 20 countries analyzed. Brown indicates low unemployment and the dark teal shows the highest unemployment.


As it turns out, there is no real support across a wide body of research for the commonly-held notion that economic hardship alone results in radical right party success at the polls. My research, which I’ll expand upon in later posts, shows that this was the case at a regional level across Europe in the wake of the 2008 crisis. In a nutshell,  I show that economic factors like unemployment only boosted these parties’ vote shares where the parties’ featured strong national and local party organizations.

Note: I originally posted this on my pre-existing website.

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