Current Institutional Affiliation
Political Science, Cornell University

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2017
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Political Science, Cornell University
From the Fringes to the Frontline: The Rise of Right-Wing Populism in Western Europe

What explains variation in the emergence and popularity of populist right-wing parties both at the subnational level and cross-nationally? Prior research on electoral preferences for the populist right in advanced democracies has commonly emphasized the importance of certain key programmatic concerns, notably their hostile positions on immigration, globalization and the EU. Yet, factors that account for considerable differences, both in the salience of such factors as well as in these parties' vote share at the subnational level, remain poorly understood. This study seeks to deepen understanding of the recent rise of right-wing populism in Western Europe by investigating the conditions under which populist right-wing parties perform well in some settings while not in others. To evaluate differing patterns of support for these parties, this study will systematically analyze structural, institutional and socio-economic determinants of affinity towards the populist right by comparing their electoral performance at the local level in Finland, France and Spain – Western democracies where these parties' presence and popularity vary to a large degree. By investigating the populist right's social and political bases at the local level, this study sheds light on the thawing and transformation of the European political landscape. It will employ mixed methods that combine qualitative methodologies and quantitative analyses to answer these questions and evaluate two different, but potentially interacting, key arguments. For one, the rise and variation in popularity reflects the electorate's increasing demand to address new, cross-class cutting programmatic concerns – Europeanization, globalization, or immigration-driven societal diversification. Alternatively, these parties' electoral performance cannot solely be explained by these new programmatic issues but is rather driven by retrospective voting, i.e. electoral protest against the incumbents' past performance.