The Illusion of Radical Right Partisan Stability: How Party Positioning Affects Radical Right Voting in Germany
75 Pages Posted: 30 Jun 2019
Date Written: December 4, 2018
How stable is support for radical right parties? In one view, radical right voters are antisystem voters, beyond capture by established parties. In another, they form frustrated issue publics, gravitating towards parties that represent their preferences. We evaluate these hypotheses in Germany, where the Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) is presently the largest opposition party. Using an original panel survey, we show that AfD voters resemble stable partisans with entrenched anti-establishment views. Yet this consistency does not simply reflect antisystem voting, but is also rooted in unchanging party-issue positioning: our experimental evidence reveals that many AfD voters change allegiances when established parties accommodate their preferences. Gridlocked party positioning thus gives rise to the “illusion” of radical right partisan stability. We further demonstrate that, while mainstream parties can attract radical right voters via restrictive immigration policies, they alienate their own voters in doing so -- suggesting the status quo is an equilibrium.
Keywords: radical right, populism, political parties, elections, voting behavior, Germany, Alternative für Deutschland
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