Economic Distress and Support for Radical Right Parties – Evidence from Sweden

Authors: Sirus H. Dehdari
Issue: 2020
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Economic Distress and Support for Radical Right Parties – Evidence from Sweden

This paper investigates whether there are any links between being made unemployed and increasing support for radical right-wing political parties.

The research uses Swedish election data to show that for every layoff notice among low-skilled native-born workers, support for the country’s radical right party the Sweden Democrats increases by, on average, 0.18 to 0.46 votes.

The relationship between layoff notices and support for the Sweden Democrats was stronger in areas with a high proportion of low-skilled immigrants, and in areas with a low proportion of high-skilled immigrants.

The finding chimes with theories that suggest that voters who lose their jobs are inclined to blame immigrants for changes to the local economic environment even where those changes are unrelated to immigration.

Low-skilled voters in the study who reported that their job was ‘at risk’ were also more likely to vote for the Sweden Democrats. The opposite was the case  for high-skilled voters.

The findings provide important new insights into the role of economic factors in the growing success of radical right parties in Europe.