Electoral competition, the EU issue and far-right success in Western Europe

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We argue theoretically and demonstrate empirically that to understand the electoral fortunes of far-right parties in Western Europe, we need to consider the advantages and disadvantages these parties encounter in the multidimensional political issue space. We argue that salience changes among the electorate benefit far-right parties more than shifting far-right parties’ policy positions. We further posit that changes in the public salience of European integration are more important for far-right success than other issues -- including immigration. Utilizing similar survey questions from the Chapel Hill Expert Survey (CHES) about parties’ positions and the European Election Studies (EES) about voters’ policy preferences, we estimate multidimensional voting models in 12 West European countries. We then use mathematical simulations to show that the issue that matters most for far-right success is European integration. This research has important implications for the study of electoral competition, parties’ campaign strategies, and voting behavior.
Original languageEnglish
Early online date16 Dec 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 16 Dec 2022


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