Parliamentary Representation and the Normalization of Radical Right Support
56 Pages Posted: 28 Nov 2018 Last revised: 21 Apr 2020
Date Written: November 22, 2018
How do stigmatized political preferences become normalized? I argue that the parliamentary representation of the radical right normalizes radical right support. Radical right politicians breach established social norms. Hence their supporters have an incentive to conceal that support. When the radical right enters parliament, however, its voters are likely to perceive that their views have been legitimized, becoming more likely to display their private preferences. I use three studies to test this argument. Study 1 employs a regression discontinuity comparing the underreport of voting for radical right parties (RRPs) above and below thresholds of parliamentary representation. Study 2 compares how much individuals report liking RRPs in post-electoral surveys depending on interview mode. Study 3 employs a difference-in-differences that looks into the underreport of UKIP vote before and after entering parliament. The results support the argument and highlight the role of political institutions in defining the acceptability of behaviors in society.
Keywords: Radical Right Parties, Social Norms, Political Behaviour, Political Parties, Causal Inference
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