Does Radical-Right Success Make the Political Debate More Negative? Evidence from Emotional Rhetoric in German State Parliaments

Valentim, Vicente, and Tobias Widmann (2021). Does Radical-Right Success Make the Political Debate More Negative? Evidence from Emotional Rhetoric in German State Parliaments. Political Behavior, Forthcoming.

67 Pages Posted: 30 May 2020 Last revised: 24 Mar 2021

See all articles by Vicente Valentim

Vicente Valentim

University of Oxford - Nuffield College

Tobias Widmann

Aarhus University - Department of Political Science; European University Institute - Department of Political and Social Sciences (SPS)

Date Written: May 2, 2020

Abstract

Political rhetoric has important effects on the quality of democracy, but we know very little about what causes variation in the tone of the political debate. We investigate how radical-right success affects the way the remaining politicians discuss political issues. Using an original dictionary, we measure different positive and negative emotions in a newly collected dataset of speeches in German state parliaments. Taking advantage of variation in the timing of elections when radical-right politicians enter these parliaments, we find that politicians of other parties respond to radical-right success by using more positive, instead of negative, emotions. A mix of quantitative and qualitative analyses suggest that the increase in positive emotions is used strategically for politicians to distance themselves from radical-right discourse. Our findings highlight how radical-right success can create incentives for other politicians to enforce norms that radical-right politicians breach.

Keywords: Negative Political Rhetoric, Emotions, Radical Right, Legislative Behavior, Dictionary Approaches, Germany

Suggested Citation

Valentim, Vicente and Widmann, Tobias and Widmann, Tobias, Does Radical-Right Success Make the Political Debate More Negative? Evidence from Emotional Rhetoric in German State Parliaments (May 2, 2020). Valentim, Vicente, and Tobias Widmann (2021). Does Radical-Right Success Make the Political Debate More Negative? Evidence from Emotional Rhetoric in German State Parliaments. Political Behavior, Forthcoming., Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3590343 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3590343

Vicente Valentim (Contact Author)

University of Oxford - Nuffield College ( email )

Oxford
United Kingdom

Tobias Widmann

European University Institute - Department of Political and Social Sciences (SPS) ( email )

Via dei Roccettini 9
San Domenico di Fiesole
Florence, 50014
Italy

Aarhus University - Department of Political Science ( email )

Bartholins Allé è
DK-8000 Aarhus, 8000
Denmark

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