The Left Parties’ Economic Policies and the Proletarization of the Populist Radical Right
40 Pages Posted: 24 Mar 2020
Date Written: February 27, 2020
In this article I trace the process of blue-collar respondents becoming the core support group of populist radical right parties. I argue that this process is associated with left parties’ shift on the economic policy dimension. The pro-market positions of the left parties created openings for PRR parties. The PRR subsequently incorporated a large proportion of the working class, formerly a core constituency of the left. I trace this process using data for 10 Eastern European countries from the 2004-16 European Social Survey and three case studies. I show that working-class electorates have increasingly shifted from the center left to the PRR in countries with pro-market left parties, but tended to stay with left parties in countries where left parties retained traditional economic policy stances. A survey experiment run in Hungary demonstrates that the propensity to support PRR parties is contingent on pro-market positions of the left party and more pronounced amongst blue-collar electorates as long as the PRR promises greater economic protection.
Keywords: Populism, Radical Right, Neo-liberalism, European Union, Proletarization
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